How Atheists Celebrate the Holidays (Or Don’t), at HuffPost Live December 25, 2013

How Atheists Celebrate the Holidays (Or Don’t), at HuffPost Live

Are you celebrating Christmas today? Atheists’ experience of the holiday of course runs that gamut, with many going the Full Santa, complete with decorated trees and tinsel and candy canes and jolliness and all the rest, while others happily opt out of marking the day or the season in any way — and everything else in between. (My four-year-old boy got up this morning entirely disappointed that Santa was not in the living room waiting for him. Don’t worry, he came around.)

At HuffPost Live, host Josh Zepps (who is also the new co-host of Point of Inquiry, my organization’s podcast) gathered some atheist thinkers and activists to discuss the topic of the way atheists celebrate (or not) Christmas. On the panel was Raymond Arnold, who Kickstarted the “Brighter Than Today” secular solstice project; American Atheists’ Dave Muscato; and my boss, CFI president and CEO Ron Lindsay.

It’s a good, substantive discussion, touching not just what we all tend to agree on, but some of the differences in message between various secular groups and individuals.

However you’re spending today, I hope it’s safe and happy.

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  • At My house our big party is on December 21 (Yule/Winter Solstice), but we save the gift-opening for the 25th. No trees, because we have cats who like to climb ’em, but there’s a real evergreen wreath on the front door.

    Currently there’s a duck roasting in the oven, and a bottle of prosecco waiting in the fridge. Christmas is our day to kick back, put up our feet and relax, rather than entertaining a houseful of guests.

  • My daughter loves Christmas but I do as well. Here she is decked out in some of her new jewelry. She is taking a nap now.

  • Nice picture! Love the owl necklace.

  • Thank you. I gave her the Owl necklace, did not know it was going to be that big as I failed to read the description on Amazon but being she loves Owls she was pleased.

  • I’m a HuffPo contributor and the religion section editors always push my articles off to some other section. My latest article on the holidays was pushed into the Politics section. Here is it:
    The True Meaning of Christmas –

  • Mario Strada

    I buy my Christmas Tree for the cats 🙂
    They love it. I also have an excellent vacuum cleaner.

  • I gave up on having a tree somewhere between The Kittens (now 11 years old) climbing it, and discovery of the late, great Ludwig’s Christmas light addiction. I noticed that all the bulbs on the lower regions of the tree were broken, then caught him in the act of chomping one off — While it was lit! He was a wonderful cat, but two caramels short of a box of chocolates.

  • Mikko

    i celebrate Yule at 24th of December

  • glebealyth

    My wife is from Gdansk, Poland, so we have a cut-down version of Wigilia on the 24th. I say cut-down, because 13 dishes is far too much for one meal.
    We also have a traditional turkey meal, with vegan substitutes for the animal products, on the 25th.
    Basically, a good time to relax with friends and family, a little drink and very good food.

  • My church always taught that it was sinful to celebrate “Catholic holidays,” so my family always celebrated Christmas in a completely secular fashion. Christmas tree, presents, food… but no church. As a result, even though that I am now aware that the religion was all just mythology, nothing has to change about the holiday, and I don’t have to feel uncomfortable around my religious family. (I just zoned out during the long prayer before the meal.)

  • allein

    My cats surprisingly don’t really bother the Christmas tree. They like to lay under it and sometimes the boy will play with the tree skirt or skulk among the presents, but for the most part they leave it alone. Which is strange because he is the one most likely to get into stuff. (The girl is a fraidy-cat and would probably run at the first sign of falling trees or smashing ornaments.) I’m slightly disappointed at this; then again I don’t live with them. 😉

  • allein

    My Christmas is always the same: breakfast at my parents’ house, open presents, hang out for a bit, then dinner at my uncle’s house. We don’t do gifts with the extended family and “Christmas” doesn’t really factor in specifically; aside from the decorations it’s pretty much the same as any other family get-together. My aunt died a couple years ago so this is our second Christmas without her. I think my uncle likes to get all her stuff out and keep the usual holiday routine going, but most of the food gets cooked off-site since her last Christmas when she was too sick to do any of the work. My cousin cooked the turkey at his house and everyone brings side dishes and dessert so my uncle doesn’t really have to do too much.

    This year’s unusual excitement included a paramedic in a Santa hat (after one of my uncles passed out from low blood sugar; he was OK), and my one out-of-state cousin who couldn’t come up because her daughter has pneumonia (but didn’t have a fever on Christmas for the first time in a 11 days), and ending with me with a migraine but at least I was home before it got too bad. Here’s hoping for a healthier new year.

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