Is It Hypocritical for Atheists to Celebrate Christmas? December 28, 2013

Is It Hypocritical for Atheists to Celebrate Christmas?

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, answers the question (albeit a little belatedly): Is it hypocritical for atheists to celebrate Christmas?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

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  • pierre

    When it comes to Christmas, you can do pretty much most of what’s considered Christmas in the American culture-lights, tree, Santa Claus, presents, egg nog- without ever approaching anything remotely religious, other than the name.

    Saying that celebrating Christmas without any of the religious significance isn’t really Christmas makes about as much sense to me as saying people in the South celebrating Christmas without snow isn’t really Christmas.

  • CryoFly

    “albeit a little belatedly”?!!!

    You listened to the pope to join forces with the catholics and then you went to the midnight service, didn’t ya? :))

  • brianmacker

    So if an xmas tree and Santa is secular then would it be hypocritical to argue that goverment can’t put up xmas displays (with Santa, Tree, Rudolph)? i can see how a nativity is different, but I don’t know of atheists who put up nativity scenes.

  • brianmacker

    Hmm… I’m wondering why the atheist groups that go out of their way to put up inclusionary displays don’t just call them Christmas displays, and have a Santa, Rudolph, Tree with star, and the whole nine yards, except perhaps the nativity scene.
    Actually, I’m sort of thinking that might be a good thing. I’ve never actually sued or paid for such a thing, so I’m not trying to be critical of those who have taken action. However, if it was something I planned to do then I would make it a secular Christmas display.

  • Wheezer

    Christians are nothing like their Christ, so it’s fine if we Celebrate a Christmas that has nothing to do with Christianity. Midwinter celebrations were part and parcel of many cultures long before the Christians usurped them for their own.

  • i don’t “celebrate” christmas for entirely different reasons than my atheism. to me, christmas has become (in this country, at least) a disgusting orgy of consumption and consumerism. i always donate to charity this time of year; those are the gifts i give to my nieces and nephews, donations in their names. they are in wealthy families and i’m often disappointed in how their parents seem to think that unless there are dozens of presents under the tree for them, they are “bad parents.” i really don’t like the message they are reinforcing in the minds of the kids. and don’t get me started on the working conditions of millions of workers around the globe who produce all manner of gifts and foodstuffs for rich americans to consume during the holidays, but who themselves can never afford anything similar.

    i don’t think it’s hypocritical of atheists when they participate in midwinter celebrations of any kind. if that’s your thing, go for it. as Hemant points out, there is nothing inherently “christian” about santa, rudolph, holiday lighting displays, etc. winter can be depressing and there is a reason why cultures all around the world and thru all of history have had them.

  • If there’s any hypocrisy to be found in the celebration of Christmas, I’d suggest it’s almost exclusively amongst Christians.

  • Marie Alexander

    Organizations like the ACLU and FFRF only have problems with the gov putting up nativity scenes and other religious displays. I haven’t yet heard of a case where they challenged displays that where completely secular.

  • skeptical_inquirer

    Nobody owns mid-winter festivities so I think it’s only hypocritical if you invoke a deity or a religious celebration of some kind. New Year’s is the big celebration in my house and not Christmas so I manage to avoid that.

  • skeptical_inquirer

    I don’t mind small gifts but I’m not into the cycle of obligation and really not into the kind of horrible Black Friday behavior where people get beaten up, shot and run down.

  • Castilliano

    Because somebody had to post it:
    Minchin’s lovely take on Christmas.

  • Malcolm Mclean

    An atheist could quite logically take the position that Jesus was born in a stable with the ox and the ass, whilst rejecting the supernatural elements of angels and virgin birth. (We’ve just had a discussion on the star of Bethlehem and whether that was inherently supernatural or not).

  • Dave

    Not if you are an atheist retailer.

  • brianmacker

    Yeah, but I don’t put up displays of everyone who ever was born in a stable, a farm, a hospital, etc. There is certainly a religious connotation to picking some random baby to display. What would motivate a atheist like me to be so concerned about this particular baby, and why is his birth so important? Generally atheists tend to give accolades to a persons ideas, and generally on the day of their death. Celebrating a persons birth has a kind of fatalism to it, like they were destined to come up with an idea.

  • Noelle

    I have 2 nativity scenes in my living room right now. One was my mother’s. It’s kinda cute-ugly, but it’s a product of it’s time. I keep it for nostalgia. I don’t have much left of hers. The other is a play one my mother-in-law made for my kids to play with. She knows we don’t go to church, but doesn’t know we’re atheists. The kids like it, so it comes out every Christmas.

  • Dave

    There is no legal basis challenge a secular display, which is what all government displays should be.

  • Daniel

    It’s interesting to think on the topic of “Christmas is named for Christ, so it is a Christian holiday”. And you have to be Christian to celebrate it.

    I wonder if that means, you can’t be christian and celebrate Easter? Easter is named for the goddess Astarte, also called Ishtar. via various web sources. The sources I read, stated the pronunciation today is identical to the ancient pronunciation for Ishtar. That goddess was known by other names, including, for the ancient Greeks, Artemis or Aphrodite. There is a nice wiki discussion on her. She’s about the polar opposite of Mary – Astarte is a goddess of fertility, sexuality, and war. The Hebrew bible calls her an abomination. The connection to rabbits and eggs is controversial, but both are associated with fecundity.

    My rambling point is, if you have to be Christian to celebrate Christmas, what do you have to be to celebrate Easter? I think the answer is, a devotee of Ishtar. There is also discussion of the Ēostre festival, a bit foggy to me but the cognate would be oestrous cycle, which gets to pagan meanings. And decidedly not christian. So much for Easter sunrise services.

    I don’t know what you have to be to celebrate Arbor Day. I like that holiday and plant a tree in honor of the Roman sylvestris deus, who had a thing for forests and trees. Not really, but I like trees and have planted a lot of them.

  • brianmacker

    Me neither. I don’t know of every case though. I vaguely remember someone objecting to a Christmas tree display but maybe I am mistaken. Recently there is a case where someone in the Army said they could not refer to something as the “Christmas Football Tournament’. If xmas is secular then I don’t see why that needs to be changed to “Holiday Football Tournament”. Hemant opens a can of worms here that needs to be explored.

    I always thought of my celebration of Xmas as a kind of participatory anthropology. If I lived in Africa I’d probably celebrate their traditions along with them. I’ve been to a Diwali party, and if I was in India I might start celebrating that “secularly” since I like lights, candles, fireworks, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, husband and wife relationships, and the like.

  • brianmacker

    Obviously, you have to be a tree to celebrate Arbor Day.

  • allein

    I don’t know what you have to be to celebrate Arbor Day.

    An Ent?

  • allein

    My Christmas list is generally things that I actually need. This year I asked for new bath towels and a small saucepan, both of which I would have bought for myself either way. I really only buy for my parents and my brother, and we don’t go crazy. I don’t shop on Black Friday and if I haven’t gotten everything before Christmas Eve, then I’m not getting it.

  • brianmacker

    Your comment is so loaded with bad assumptions I’m not sure if that you were being intentionally fallacious, don’t know any better, or just are extremely careless with words.

    Why can’t you, for instance, buy carefully to make sure that no actual slave labor went into your gifts.

    You may not understand this, but “rich” people buying from poor people, as long as no slavery or other coercement is involve is actually good for both parties. I can gorge on turkey and at the same time help a poor farmer.

  • brianmacker

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that you or her celebrate xmas by beating people up, shooting them, or running them down. Seems wrong to characterize holidays by the behavior of the worst people, or the worst myths about the holiday. No one celebrates Halloween because they want razor blades in apples, or costumes that set on fire.

  • BM

    That’s the rub. Is “Christ”mas secular or not? is it incusionary of Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc. or is it only Christians, atheists from Christian families, and pagans who belive in Odin. i don’t have a problem with other atheists putting a big “A” on display during the winter solstice but do they do this at home? I’ve heard of putting a question mark or “A” on the top of a tree but not just a big “A”. Seems contrived.

  • brianmacker
  • Malcolm McLean

    Very few people get a dating system named after them, Christmas split our calendar. So it’s not just some random baby.

  • Guest

    Here’s a Christmas Tree that was taken down because it is not secular in it’s representation:

  • brianmacker

    Here is a Christmas Tree that was taken down because it is not secular in it’s representation:

  • allein

    So? If Christianity hadn’t become the dominant religion it would be irrelevant. We would just be counting our years by some other system.

  • paulalovescats

    Nobody did suggest that. Lots of people seem to think that’s an obligatory part of Xmas.

  • Malcolm McLean

    Eostre was an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. Nothing to do with Ishtar, despite a certain similarity of name, at least as far as we know. All we really know about Eostre is Bede’s account that she gave her name to Easter, and even that may be a false etymology.

  • paulalovescats

    I don’t know why this comment got an “up” and the one below by Brian got a “down”. It wouldn’t make sense to BE a tree to celebrate Arbor Day. A tree hugger, maybe.

  • *eyes rolling* I’ll do as I please. So long as no one else is hurt by my actions, it’s not really any of their business and no wrong in my opinion. I’ll celebrate what I want. Am I no more a hypocrite for celebrating Christmas while not believing in the supernatural elements of the story any more than I am a hypocrite for celebrating Cinco de Mayo without having any Mexican American ancestry. No one is hurt by my participation in either celebration (and some vendors are helped). It’s a ridiculous question. Am I a hypocrite? Sorry, not playing that game. I left that kind of nonsense behind when I deconverted.

  • CraftLass

    I’m an atheist who celebrates Christmas both for the fun and because, good or bad, my heritage is Italian/Irish Catholic and some elements of those cultures are worth celebrating and continuing, regardless of belief. To me, even religious carols are good, they speak of values I do believe in, unlike most Christian doctrine, like peace between people and caring for the poor. They are the folk songs that connect us to the people who came before us, just as some of the greatest visual art ever produced was commissioned by the Church. Just because I would like a future where reason takes over and religion becomes a part of history, it doesn’t mean we should throw away traditions that are positive. Family is good (whether born into or chosen), gifts are nice, and frankly, in the U.S. Christmas is one of the only days that businesses actually close and everyone can have some time for fun.

    Funny how the “War on Christmas” types never recognize that Christmas is one of 2 national holidays left in the American calendar.

  • Etymologically, the word christ comes from Proto-IndoEuropean *ghrei meaning “to rub” .

    Rub one out to Christmas!

  • moose

    It’s interesting to note (especially to evangelicals) that Christmas was banned in Puritan Massachusetts at least partially because it was seen as Catholic, and therefore pagan or, at the very least, not Christian. Christmas means “Christ’s Mass,” and that second word was anathema to Puritans. So, really, evangelicals shouldn’t be celebrating it, either.

  • Daniel

    Thanks for the added info. I have a lot to learn. Im glad we dont have to be ovulating to celebrate Easter!

  • moose

    Now that I’m no longer a believer, I find I enjoy the season much more. I enjoy the lights, getting together with loved ones, baking, decorating the tree, and watching Christmas movies. I don’t feel nearly as much pressure to find the perfect gifts. I do get presents for my kids, but we don’t go overboard. I find it easier to focus on the original purpose behind winter celebrations–bringing in light at the darkest time of year.

    When I was a believer, I was always disappointed in Christmas. Christmas day was a huge letdown because I felt something was missing. It was like a miracle was supposed to have occurred and it never arrived (I considered myself a believer, but in retrospect, I don’t think it ever really “took”). All of the fun stuff was just going through the motions to cover up the fact that no savior was born 2,000 years ago and it’s still just us here on earth, with this one life. Now that I’m comfortable with that fact, I can enjoy the fun stuff more because it’s just that–fun stuff.

  • allein

    Ha, I didn’t even see his until just now when I reloaded the page (auto-load for comments is being spotty, and when I saw a post by “Malcolm McLean” that started out with “Now that I’m no longer a believer,” I knew something was screwy.)
    I think someone is just downvoting him; almost all of his comments have one downvote and I see no real reason for it on most of them.

  • Taz

    The vast majority of what Christians do to celebrate Christmas has nothing to do with religion.

    “I’m decorating a tree for Christ.”
    “I’m putting up lights for Christ.”
    “I’m wrapping presents in the name of the Lord.”

    Yeah, sure.

  • Malcolm McLean

    That’s a bit like saying that Washington should be renamed because, if the tea had been of better quality so the Bostonians would have thought twice about pitching it in the harbour, George would be just a footnote in history.

  • KMR

    If I could give this 1,000 upvotes I would.

  • allein

    Who said anything about “we should” do anything? I’m simply pointing out that if things had played out differently in history (whether the Jesus myth or the American Revolution or a million other possibilities), our world today would be different than it is. And we wouldn’t know the difference because we would be living in that world and not this one.

  • LesterBallard

    Nah, it’s hypocritical for Christians to celebrate it, since almost everything about Christmas is stolen from pagan myths/cultures.

  • brianmacker

    There is someone who seems to be down voting all my comments. I think I pissed some coward off. I even get one down vote when all I do is agree with someone else’s comment, or even when I say I was wrong about something. Someone seems obsessed.

  • brianmacker

    Yeah, we cross posted. I didn’t see your’s till later either.

  • brianmacker

    Do they think that or does it happen because of bad planning on the part of the stores for the larger crowds. If Bill Gates take to throwing thousands of hundred dollar bills on the floor at crowded areas during xmas, does that mean people think the ensuing trampling is part of xmas? Hopefully the stores will learn better crowd control around their discount items in the future. Some are adding a system of tickets so that people don’t feel obliged to rush for an item.

  • Sandra Craft

    I realize this is unnecessarily picky of me, but I don’t think of it as celebrating Xmas, but as participating in a limited fashion. The Pagan stuff (which admittedly is most of it), I’m fine with and I can meet up with Xtian family and friends when they finish with their worship portion of it.

  • allein

    How long before someone downvotes this one?

  • allein

    I celebrate “Christmas” because that’s what it’s called. My family celebrates it; my parents make breakfast and we exchange gifts and then my uncle has a big family dinner. If it was just me I wouldn’t do much (I hung a Santa thing on my door, partly because I was the only one in my little section of my complex that didn’t have anything and I thought it looked weird..last year I didn’t decorate at all). I don’t think of it as a religious holiday at all; we don’t even say grace at dinner. When I was a kid we went to church on Christmas Eve but that didn’t really have anything to do with the festivities the next day.

  • L.Long

    Short and to the point…these are all ancient pagan holidays that are basically secular, its the xtains that should not be celebrating them.

  • Blacksheep

    Hey if it makes you feel better, I get down voted at least 3 times even when I wholeheartedly agree with a point being made by an atheist.

  • Blacksheep

    I look at it this way: how much would I pay to NOT have to shop on black Friday? It pretty much equals the amount that I would save, and it’s worth every penny.

  • Erik Wiseman

    Off the top of my head, the only things Christian about the celebration of Christmas in the western world are the word “Christ” and a church service. I think Christmas has the thinnest Christian overlay of any of the co-opted holidays and festivals, barring perhaps Halloween/Samhain (All Saints Day) and that one seems to have not really worked. As far as I’m concerned, it’s still a Winter Solstice festival.

    I suppose Dia de Muertos is even more pagan; but, it’s exclusive to Latin American culture, so far.

  • duke_of_omnium

    It’s like St. Patrick’s Day: you don’t need to be Irish, just drunk (which is not quite the same thing)

  • I’m tiring of bloggers posting nothing but videos. Even on an interesting topic, I’m not going through my reader to watch videos.

    On the topic of celebrating or having a party; no excuse is bad. 🙂 As for christmas, well, I haven’t seen the video and I’m not going to.

  • Georgina

    I celebrate Buddha’s birthday in May, but I am not a buddhist.
    Who say I cannot celebrate whatever I want?

  • guest

    I am more into christmas since I became an atheist. I am all out on glitter and dinner and the tree and seeing friends/family.

  • ginalex

    If it is going to be secular then we need to change the name and take the Christ out of Christmas. It’s funny to me how some Christians want it to be secular to justify their need to make everyone say Merry Christmas, but then they put up signs that say “Keep Christ in Christmas” with a big ol’ pic of blonde haired, blue-eyed, ripped abs white boy Jesus.

  • Thanks Hemant !! I neededThis !!

  • ginalex

    That’s the primary reason why I celebrate. Because we celebrated it every year as a kid, it was the best time of year, it was magical and I love the memories. It’s nostalgic too. I still have many of the decorations. I even went to church because it helps me feel close to my mother. She sang in the choir and she was always the one to sing the high parts of the hymns (descants) and when I go to church on Christmas Eve and I hear someone singing those descants of Angels We Have Heard on High or Hark The Herald Angels Sing, I become very overcome with emotion because it feels as if my mother is alive again. I usually have to bring tissues.

  • M.

    Fellow atheist here. If your not christian, and you don’t honestly believe that you are celebrating the birth of your savior, then my question is this: what the hell are you celebrating? And yes, you can be christian and celebrate easter because it is just like christmas. It has been christianized.

    I know some people like to remind us that these holidays were just pagan celebrations once too, but I don’t celebrate the solstice any more than christmas. Because I am not pagan. I don’t practice hanukah, and I don’t observe ramadan.

    My family is christian, and they sure celebrate it but I don’t. I haven’t since I became an atheist. It doesn’t matter to me if it has been traditionally regarded by my kin or not. It seems like there are only two reasons an atheist practices religious holidays… because they are chained down by some arbitrary sense of tradition, or because they are stuck in the psycho/social clutches of a system that makes them feel like an outsider for not participating in some way. I think the practice of atheist-christmas is almost compulsory for those who do it.

    And of course, as an atheist, I don’t need a special day to be nice. I give gifts randomly and when I feel like it. I gather for merry making often, and without regard for what particular day of the year it is. That said though, if my very christian family happens to buy me a gift, or invite me over, I will not be rude… but I have made it apparent to them that they don’t need to, and I am happy to come to dinner without needing to participate in the religious aspects.

  • M.

    Also, arbor day is not a religious holidays started by trees for trees. There are many secular holidays… labor day, veterans day. I don’t have to be a laborer to enjoy the late summer weather, or camping. I don’t need to be in the army to remember those who served, etc.

  • Bill

    Do you celebrate hanukah too? kwanza? ramadan? Yom kippur? What about the many chinese festivals that mark the seasons? How about hindu holidays?

    If not mexican, why cinco de mayo?

  • kathtastik

    I think your entire point is hypocritical.

  • kathtastik

    I love your answer CraftLass. It’s everything I wanted to say and more. There is nothing wrong with celebrating Christmas strictly for tradition sake; doesn’t make a person tied down in any way as one poster above stated.

  • kathtastik

    Hemant, no it is not hypocritical to celebrate Christmas if you are an atheist. The answer you give in the video is excellent. So is the answer of another poster on here named CraftLass whom I’m going to quote here because she says it all (I only add that I was born and raised Catholic but I’m not into the lies of Catholic doctrine. I know indeed we all go on to the next dimension but there is no throne there nor king sitting upon it): CraftLass says “I’m an atheist who celebrates Christmas both for the fun and because, good or bad, my heritage is Italian/Irish Catholic and some elements of those cultures are worth celebrating and continuing, regardless of belief. To me, even religious carols are good, they speak of values I do believe in, unlike most Christian doctrine, like peace between people and caring for the poor. They are the folk songs that connect us to the people who came before us, just as some of the greatest visual art ever produced was commissioned by the Church. Just because I would like a future where reason takes over and religion becomes a part of history, it doesn’t mean we should throw away traditions that are positive. Family is good (whether born into or chosen), gifts are nice, and frankly, in the U.S. Christmas is one of the only days that businesses actually close and everyone can have some time for fun.

    Funny how the “War on Christmas” types never recognize that Christmas is one of 2 national holidays left in the American calendar.”

  • islandbrewer

    We (my wife and kids and I) celebrate Christmas, Chinese New Years, have a Secular Seder on Passover, and occasionally celebrate Eid al-Fitr with my sons’ friends from school. We also turn out for the Cinco de Mayo celebration at school, but it’s not a high priority for us (given the high percentage of Mexican Americans in our city, CdM is a big deal around here).

    We celebrate things that are meaningful to us and don’t celebrate things that don’t hold a lot of meaning for us. Meaning can derive from lots of places for lots of reasons. Why is that so hard for you to figure out?

  • islandbrewer

    “I’m elbowing that lady in the face on Black Friday for Jesus! Hands off that, I saw it first!”

  • I was in charge of the menorah at an office job one year. Other than that, no. Kwanzaa? No. Ramadan? Why. I like lunch, thanks. Yom Kippur, well I’ve sung at High Holy Days services at different temples many times but I didn’t fast and can’t think of any reason why I should. I don’t know much about Hindu holidays? Do any of them involve presents, food and best of all paying gigs? Most of my Christmasing involves people paying me to sing. Ka-CHING. It’s also a holiday my family celebrates. And one I was raised with. I am happy to jettison the boring traditions of the religion in which I was raised, but why should I avoid the ones I still find enjoyable.

    Cinco de Mayo? Mexican food and corona beer. It’s tasty. What more reason do you need to celebrate than food and booze?

  • If I lived in an area with more Hindus I might join in some of their traditions. It would probably be annoying for them to have to explain everything to me and honestly I’m not that interested in the religious parts. But I do enjoy Indian food and love a good Bollywood movie so who knows. (I love when action heroes break out into song and dance. Why don’t they do that in our movies???)

  • I worked in a department store in college and still have PTSD flashbacks from that so I avoid Black Friday shopping. Fortunately I was not raised with such a consumerist Christmas holiday. Everyone gives and received presents but no one feels the need to go overboard. A cycle of spending money you don’t have is a bad practice. I’d rather have a small thoughtful gift anyway.

  • Or you could make your own. Several of my relatives give hand-made gifts of various sorts. They are always a big hit.

  • M.

    How so? I don’t put up a tree, or wreath, or sing, or any of it. More than the religious aspects, I hate participating in the consumerism of it all. I haven’t even been to the family’s house in three years. You could rationalize that it’s tradition, and the symbols don’t have to be pagan or christian… If people are doing these things for no other reason than they just enjoy it, fine. I’m not a fascist. I just don’t see the point… whatever christmas is about, shouldn’t we be doing that all the time? I try to at least. If you aren’t, than you are the hypocrite.

  • Noelle

    Video? You don’t have to watch the video to comment

  • Noelle

    I, for one, am glad we have these discussions. I wouldn’t want to do atheism wrong. 😉

  • It wouldn’t be much fun for others if I just repeat what’s already in the video.

  • Anna

    Maybe a religious person who holds this belief can explain it because I’ve never understood this question. It seems so nonsensical to me. The only possible way it could be hypocritical for an atheist to enjoy Christmas would be if people were required to believe the supernatural mythology surrounding every holiday they celebrate.

    But they clearly are not held to that standard. Christians celebrate Halloween without believing in witches and goblins. They celebrate Valentine’s Day without believing in Cupid. They make noise on New Year’s Eve without believing that they’re scaring away evil spirits by doing so.

    So what makes Christmas any different? We don’t believe the Jesus mythology just like we (and they) don’t believe in Frosty the Snow Man or Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. It’s the rare Christian who would demand that people believe in the actual existence of Rudolph or Frosty or Santa before singing songs about them or putting up decorations that feature them.

    Christmas can be (and often is) entirely secular. However, even if Christmas were only a religious celebration, I can’t for the life of me figure out why atheists would need to believe that Jesus was real or important to enjoy the holiday. As myths go, the story is rather sweet (as long as you forget about Easter, LOL). I’ve never for a minute thought that the baby Jesus was anything more than a story. It’s just a cultural meme.

  • Anna

    Just because I would like a future where reason takes over and religion becomes a part of history, it doesn’t mean we should throw away traditions that are positive.

    Exactly! I think a lot of people are under the impression that atheists are grinches who want to rid the world of any trace that religion ever existed. But that’s not how I see it at all. I love the idea of preserving different cultural heritages. There’s nothing wrong with harmless traditions and holidays, just as long as people realize they are based on myths. You can admire religious art and music without believing that the religion of the people who created them is true. I mean, just think of Ancient Greece and Rome. We still incorporate elements of their mythology in our society even though we clearly recognize it for what it is.

  • Anna

    It’s just a secular winter celebration to me. I’ve never been Christian, so I observe it as a cultural holiday. What specifically am I celebrating? Family, friends, good cheer, well wishes, the spirit of giving, etc. No savior needed.

    The only reason I celebrate Christmas is because it’s the most popular holiday in the country where I was born. If I’d been born and raised in Japan, I’d have an emotional attachment to a completely different set of cultural holidays.

  • I think there’s something to be said for midwinter celebrations. It’s cold, it’s dark, winter seems to be going on forever at this point. A break for feasting, lights, family, gifts, etc can help a lot with people’s general emotional well-being. Christmas can serve that purpose, though it’s not the only holiday that can.

  • brianmacker

    Yeah, but I’m not a fan of the idea of self-sufficiency. It actually is not in line with human biology. We are economically social animals. Ants are social and gain efficiency via genetic caste specialization. We are genetic generalists that can specialilze. We gain vast amounts of efficiency by this specialization. There are thousands of people who are vastly more skilled in the tasks needed to create a gift, and even when I make it myself I am depending on trade to get the materials to make it. True self sufficiency in this regard would require me to gather every material from scratch, including all the tools use in the gathering. Look up the story, “I pencil” online to get a feel for this. Even if my kid wants something simple like a bow and arrow, I’m not in the position to give him a decent one. Even the native american’s specialized in various tasks, there were bow makers, and they did use wampum as money. It is our biological nature to trade.

  • brianmacker

    I hit nothing but contradictions going with the idea that “Christmas is secular.” It’s hard not to be a hypocrite in this area if you want to ban government displays and yet claim it as a secular holiday. It’s not really a secular holiday, although it can be celebrated that way, but then it is still tied to religious ethnicity to a certain extent. I just noticed the “can of worms” and ran with it. I’m really not suggesting a “solution”.

  • brianmacker

    If that happens then I think that is stupid.

  • brianmacker

    You, in fact make my point. I couldn’t care less about splitting the calendar on some random babies birthday either. Using a equinox or apogee makes more sense. He is a random baby to those who are not in the religion. A religion made him non-random. It is the fatalism of the religion (he was prophesied) that makes his birth “special”. The calendar issue is also a religious issue, and Jesus wasn’t born on that day in the first place. That was fictionalize to make it align with what was the solstice.

  • brianmacker

    Sounds like you are putting up a religious display to appease your mother. Not displaying the nativity scene a secular display.

  • brianmacker

    I guess so but that seems weird. Why bother?

  • brianmacker

    Downvoter … BM was me on a different machine and I didn’t bother logging in. You missed a downvote opportunity. I’m here to satisfy your obsession.

  • Noelle

    I can’t appease her. She died when I was young. It’s sentimental I know, but I just really like it.

    Of course, my house is not a public space, so that’s not what you meant.

  • $84687101

    Short answer: No.

  • CraftLass

    Right? As an American, my favorite thing about my country is the melting pot aspect. I love celebrating various holidays, even ones that have no place in my own heritage (Sukkot is a particular favorite, the closest thing to Christmas in Judaism, with decorations and a “play house” and a requirement to stare at the stars and ponder the big questions, nothing wrong with that!). I love eating various traditional foods. I love talking to people about where their family came from and how they celebrate. I especially love a big singalong of Christmas music, because pretty much everyone knows every song and it’s the only time everyone joins in all year. Heck, 95% of American Christmas songs were written by Jews and have *nothing* to do with the Jesus myth. If that’s cool, then what could be wrong with an atheist fully enjoying whatever traditions appeal?

    I have yet to hear anyone say “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” is hypocritical. lol

    So many elements of Christmas, especially the date itself, were stolen anyway. We’re just taking it that next step! 🙂 The issue of that particular wrong date is what started my deconversion, so I guess you could say I celebrate my “born again” atheism for Christmas, too. 😉

  • CraftLass

    Thank you!! 😀

  • CraftLass

    I lost my mother young as well, and I completely understand what you mean. My mother was very religious and I have a few things that aren’t exactly me that I keep around because they were something we shared or they had deep meaning to her, and therefore they make me smile.

    I was thrilled to see my father still puts up her Nativity set, and I will do the same when it passes to me, too. Nothing to do with the Nativity, but that set itself matters to two people in this world and I’m one of them.

    There is *nothing* wrong with being sentimental, and it’s impossible to avoid at the holidays.

  • enuma

    I almost always give my family tickets to local theater productions or the symphony. It’s pretty good insurance against buying items made by slave labor since it’s kinda difficult to outsource an intangible good like acting in a play. I get to know that my money was spent on a local small business or nonprofit, and my relatives don’t have to deal with additional clutter in their houses. Most of my family are at or near retirement age. They don’t need anymore stuff, but they do welcome any excuse to get out of the house.

    Bonus: I don’t have to wrap anything.

  • Noelle

    My step-dad was not good at keeping stuff after she died. He was irresponsible and stopped paying for a storage unit, so we lost everything in there. (We all wished he would’ve told somebody. There were plenty of relatives who would’ve held onto items until we kids got older. But he had his undiagnosed and untreated bipolar disorder and was impossible to reason with at the time. He’s dead now too, so being pissed at him doesn’t do any good.) I hope her other stuff found good homes, but I’ll never know for sure. I’m lucky this survived, even though it has no real value other than sentiment, and that someone thought to make sure I got it.

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