During the holiday season (and yes, it’s a season of several holidays) I sometimes come across friends, believers, that do not understand why I, an atheist, actually celebrate Christmas. It is after all a celebration of their saviors birth and since I don’t believe he even existed, why would I celebrate a day that is meaningless to me?
I read a post recently, basically tongue-in-cheek titled 10 Tips For Waging War On Christmas. Before anyone gets too bent out of shape, go and read it. We’re always accused, as secularists of waging a war on a day that is sacred to Christians. But who is actually waging the war? If they mean that sometimes I say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas to some, so what? To me, the season begins at Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and ends New Years. That’s at least 3 holidays involved if I don’’t count any others by other religious beliefs and so is it so bad to use the former?
I actually sent the link to the above post to a friend, a Christian, and was a little surprised by the response. The gist was that by atheists celebrating Christmas, we are nothing more than hypocrites. Really? How so? so here’s how I celebrate Christmas and I just want to check with everyone here to make sure I’m not being hypocritical:
The day after Thanksgiving, I install twinkly, multicolored lights outdoors. I can see why that may be something a Christian should worry about an atheist doing because of course, it’s a Christian tradition that goes back to the birth of Jesus.
I also begin the indoor decoration with various items collected over the years, some passed down from my parents. We all know that the manger that Jesus was born in was elaborately decorated – the bible tells us that, doesn’t it?
I don’t immediately put up the tree, I usually wait until around the middle of December for that, but it’s another Christian tradition, right? Well, not so much as it’s a Scandinavian winter tradition , but I’m sure that Mary and Joseph somehow acquired a fir tree for the manger as well.
Of course there’s the gift giving which we know from the bible because of the 3 Wise Men that brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the newborn King. I think he’d probably have preferred a Playstation and a flatscreen television, but hey, that’ just me.
Finally there’s the traditional Christmas dinner, which in my home is either Turkey or a nice glazed ham. Of course, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph wouldn’t have had either since the Turkey is indigenous to North America, which no one in that time even knew about and having ham? Well, not something practising Jews would ever place on a table.
I guess the only thing we don’t do in my home is go to Christmas services, because we don’t believe. Of course, having this holiday on December 25th is a little sketchy as well since no one actually knows when Jesus was born. The best we can determine actually does come from the bible (Luke 2:8) where it states that shepards were out watching their sheep. In the winter? I don’t know how many have been to the Middle East, but it gets rather chilly there in the winter and it’s doubtful anyone would be out grazing sheep, especially after dark, as they may find they have less when the sun comes up (frozen to death).
Who’s the hypocrite here? What is the purpose of all of the decoration, the food, the gifts in celebrating the birth of Jesus? How can one person describe another that way when they do the exact same thing?
So, I’m wondering what this “War on Christmas” is all about? Is it just that some may hear “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” on the street on in a retail establishment instead of “Merry Christmas”? This is the “war” we keep hearing about? Of course it’s all atheists fault: all you have to do is watch Fox News to determine that.
It’s really too bad that every year we have to endure the same accusations from the usual suspects.
8 thoughts on “Are Atheists Hypocrites?”
I feel sure that you know you left much out. As a former Catholic, the liturgical calendar I followed had some holy or feast of something day all the time.
For me, the holiday season begins with Halloween, followed by All Souls/Saints Day (or Day of the Dead), Vets Day, then Turkey/football/day of grateful reflection (since about 1940-ish), then Black Friday and Cyber Monday, then Happy Hanukkah (The Festival of Lights, Dec 2-10 this year) [is there a war on Hanukkah?], I prefer Yule to Christmas and give people stuff for cultural reasons (not usually gold, frank-whatever, etc.), but I would not like to see all the Christmas stuff go away, so no war, New Year’s Day (which I am writing a blog about now), and then suicidal depressing January as I wait for MLK Day.
I also acknowledge Imbolic (Feb 2-ish) and the Wiccans and Pagans do not seem to mind that I share it with them. Same for Saint Bridget.
In order to end my hypocrisy: I will stop celebrating public holidays when the religious stop shoving them down my throat. Fair enough? For the record, some Christian sects do not acknowledge or celebrate 25 December, nor does 2/3rds of the Abrahamic Religious Empire.
I was focused on Christmas in particular and how it’s celebrated and that atheists cannot be hypocritical by celebrating it the same way Christians do.
I often wonder why Christians celebrate so many pagan holy days. Not really. I know why they do, I just wonder if they know why they do.
It has been some time since I have heard another refer to Yule. We celebrate Yule, but Santa Claus has creeped in with the grandchildren. Other than lack of Jesus, our Yule is much like everyone else’s Christmas. Although we do say “Merry Christmas” to friends and neighbors and people in stores and sales clerks and little children and old people, much as those of other beliefs will say the same to everyone, because Christmas is a national holiday. “Happy Yule” just doesn’t seem the same and it is not a national holiday.
Okay, an aside to fellow former Christians; I do miss caroling and the Christmas church service and sometimes just the physical beauty of my old church of granite stone, with its stained glass and dark wood, vaulted ceilings, gigantic pipe organ and bell tower sounding out across the town. Heavy sigh…
Churches are beautiful architectural monuments to a period in history.
You know what else, Jim. It is a holiday. I collect angels, because I like them. I don’t believe in them. I collect dragons, as well, and I don’t believe in them, well…maybe we just haven’t looked in the right places, sort of like faeries; you know they are there somewhere. Anyway, I have them in my house because I like them and for no other religious reasons.
We would only be hypocrites if we professed to believe in Jesus just to celebrate a national holiday. It is a Holy Day to those who believe, but for the rest of us it is just a fun holiday.
It has gotten way out of control, but then what other human activity has not been taken to excess?
We have always tried to keep it under control and our kids are doing the same with the little ones. The thing is that nowadays most children have more than what they need (as do adults) and the presents under the tree aren’t as special as they used to be, ages and ages ago. The notion of always wanting/needing more, because what is had is not enough to satisfy is a true sickness in our society.
It would do us all good in the US to experience some tight times, but that situation rarely happens in a shared manner like it used to.
Well, the point of the post was to show that atheists celebrate Christmas the same way that Christians do, except for the whole going to church thing. I can’t be a hypocrite when I decorate as they do, exchange gifts, have dinner – none of which is biblical. It’s a secular tradition so why. call someone a hypocrite for celebrating a holiday the exact same way?
Who calls you a Christmas hypocrite? I will punch them in the nose! Got some atheist anger in me right now… LOL
Oh, I already went over to their house and burned it down with them in it. Yes, of course I am joking. I just found it interesting someone would call me a hypocrite for doing the exact secular things they do at Christmas. And yes, I still call it Christmas. It doesn’t offend me as an atheist and never will. I have no problem with the word.
In a way, it is a “magical time” of year. I’ll explain what I mean by that another time.
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