I really like the Christmas season. I know that some may view that, because I’m an atheist, as being unusual. But, really, I enjoy the season. Yes, we decorate the house, inside and outside, as well as do things like making “Christmas cookies” – sugar cookies, cut in holiday shapes, and decorated. Some atheists I know think that’s a waste of time or even that somehow, as an atheist, I’m actually giving credence to the myth of Jesus’ birth. I’m not.
As I tell those atheists I know: It’s a holiday! Celebrate it as you will, or not, but recognize, most people do. How does placing a tree or lights on your house defer to anything Christian? It doesn’t as the first Christians, until the 18th century, mostly didn’t celebrate the holiday individually. Sure, they would go to some church service, but that was the end of it. In fact, in the US, Christmas wasn’t a Federal holiday until 1870. Even then, it wasn’t what it has become today, or even when I was a child. Yes, it’s commercial. It’s all about buying the next great thing for that loved one. So what?
I recently read a story that the Wisconsin State Legislature passed a resolution renaming their official tree for the season back from a “Holiday Tree” to a Christmas Tree. As an atheist I was outraged (nope). It had only been designated recently in the former and those representatives of the people of that state thought otherwise. So now, Wisconsin has a Christmas tree. Of course the FFRF was outraged and made a public statement (which no one paid any attention to) that it was somehow a church/state violation and of course, being who they are, it wasn’t inclusive of those that weren’t Christians. I laughed. Yes, it’s true, I’m an atheist, but I look at some of the idiocy concerning religion that comes out of some of these organizations and just shake my head. Is this really that important? Does this actually rise to a violation of the US Constitution?
I did a little research, looking into the New Testament to see if in either Matthew or Luke, which describe, differently, the birth of Jesus, whether or not there was some sort of fir tree mentioned or if either author spoke about twinkling LED lights on homes or businesses. Not a single mention of any of that. Yes, we all know that the appropriation of the tree is actually recent, in Christian history. Supposedly, it was that infamous heretic Martin Luthor that placed candles on branches of a tree. Hopefully this was not done in anyone’s home.Of course, the English Puritans were offended by anything like that and therefore, a decorated tree really didn’t become common, at least in the US until well after Congress designated December 25th as Christmas. My parents, both born in the 1920’s never had a tree in either home as they were growing up.
I do have one Christian decoration: it’s a manger scene, passed down from my mother. It was passed to her from her mother and it’s over a hundred years old. Why do I display it? It’s a beautiful hand-crafted work of art. It’s very fragile, every piece made of glass that was hand painted. I don’t think i could afford, today, to buy anything like it.
Why do we have a Federal holiday, designated by Congress as I mentioned, known as Christmas if it’s such an offense to so many? Should we also be looking at other religious traditions as well? Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, etc. Look: those that don’t wish to celebrate the holiday are not forced to do so. In fact, you get paid to sit at home that day (well, maybe not everyone) and do whatever the heck you want to do! I’m not forced to celebrate Christmas nor am I forced to even recognize it: I choose to do so. In my home, it is a time for family and (sometimes) friends and has nothing to do with any religious observance. How may I put this more succinctly? It’s a fun time.
I’m not here advocating for a “Christian Holiday”, as it clearly isn’t just that or only Christian believers would take the day off from work or celebrate, in their own way, the season. If having “Christmas” is so offensive then maybe Congress should have undesignated the day as it does, legitimately , recognize a certain religious belief. I wonder how many votes that legislation would receive, from either Democrats or Republicans? The better question would be how many want to be reelected in the next voting cycle?
Call the season what you will. It may be “Yule”, “Saturnalia” or “Christmas”. Say “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” as you like. Just enjoy the season with those you care about.
3 thoughts on “Christmas. Let it Go.”
I celebrate Christmas not because of the fictional virgin birth of a mythical self-resurrecting demi-god, but because it’s really about the time with family & friends. The early church moved the birth of Jesus to the winter solstice to counter act any celebration of the winter solstice by what they called “ Pagans” . None the less, I still enjoy Christmas for the family gatherings, the food, and the exchange of gifts & I’m all about tradition in that aspect. As you mentioned, it’s a fun time.
I remember seeing a story about some American atheists who were trying to get a public Christmas nativity scene removed because they say it makes them feel excluded and intimidated and offended and blah blah blabbity blah boo-hoo-hoo. Can’t you just feel the emotional trauma these poor people must be suffering? No me neither. Hardly however it is still enough to make you cry. This is what happens when atheism meets political correctness. I don’t know if it has a name but then it’s so ugly it doesn’t really need one. And as an atheist myself I can’t help but feel horribly tainted by association and believe me I’m as atheist as it’s possible to be. I think religion is utter nonsense and I claim the right to criticize ridicule and insult it as much as I like. But not the right to stamp out harmless aspects of it which is why I’m a secularist and not a totalitarian. I have a copy of the Bible in my house because it’s part of my cultural heritage. Not because I think the Bible is true anymore than I think that a couple of my star trek novels are true, but I wouldn’t be without them either. I like churches especially the sound of church bells and I don’t want to see them bulldozed. But I do want to see the power of the church not only bulldozed but ground into a fine dust and buried in the deepest part of the deepest ocean on the furthest planet it’s possible to find. Religion needs to be kept in check when it tries to step on people or when it tries to elbow its way into their lives uninvited. The Nativity doesn’t do this, it doesn’t even come close. It’s part and parcel of the Christmas furniture. It’s part and parcel of the culture that I and most people in the Western world were born and raised in and it only excludes people who want to be excluded. It’s not even as if it’s a permanent fixture like saying the Ten Commandments outside a courthouse it’ll be gone in a couple of weeks. And yes we all know that the story itself is ridiculous. The entire tableau is utterly crazy and worthy of open mockery and ridicule. But to claim that it sends a message of intimidation & exclusion and therefore must be banned is both infantile and sinister and it simply isn’t true. Yes some people may choose to be offended but some people are offended by anything and frankly they can go to hell. Every year though if it’s not from liberal atheist it’s from leftist academics or some other equality Nazis who hate their own culture so much they can’t wait to abolish it. This time last year I remember linking to a story which at the time I thought was the most outrageous piece of social manipulation I’d seen for a while. Where some idiots at Canadian university social psychologists or whatever they call themselves. I don’t know what it means either so I looked it up and I’m still none-the wiser. But I’ll be willing to bet that of all the social psychologists on the planet were to disappear in a puff of smoke nobody will be worse off. Anyway these clowns concluded from their “scientific research” that Christmas trees should be removed from public places because they make non-christians feel excluded and this inevitably damages their emotional well-being. Well of course it does how awful for them and doubtless. This also makes them feel terribly offended not to mention intimidated and insulted and threatened and all let’s not forget marginalized. It sounds like a fate worse than death doesn’t it? Except it’s not true because I’m a non-christian. I couldn’t be more non-christian if I was from Mars and I can tell you that I don’t feel in the least bit excluded or intimidated or threatened or marginalized by Christmas trees or carol singers or nativity scenes or any other Christian aspect of a traditional Christmas. I expect to see these things in the public square where they belong. In fact, I insist upon it and if they’re not there, if they’ve been removed because some self-righteous atheist fanatic or some finger-wagging diversity fascist has chosen to be offended and get the plug pulled, that’s when I feel excluded and marginalized and intimidated and insulted and terribly terribly offended and all this inevitably plays absolute havoc with my emotional well-being. So please atheists and cultural masochists alike please do me and everyone else a favor leave Christmas alone for Christ’s sake. And stop making fools of yourselves. Peace and a Merry Christmas to everyone.
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Yes! Yes! Yes! I could not agree with you both more. I love the art, architecture and music of Christians and Christmas.
How fortunate you are, Jim, to have that wonderful heirloom.
And, Occamsrazor, can you believe that atheists can have “hurt feelings” over Christmas Trees? We, who have lived through the “hurtfulness” of coming out and many who have stood up for their kids in schools that are often overtly Christian? I am not a victim and neither are my kids or grandkids.
Haven’t had anything to do with FFRF in decades, as they lost my support with their foolishness.
I, too, have my Bible and a couple of family Bibles, as part of my library. Nothing is a convincing that it is all bunkum as reading the Bible.
I find that I wish people “Merry Christmas” in public more than anyone else around me in public, so where are the Christians? Are they afraid to say that anymore? Phooey on them.
You know, governments in both the US and UK banned the holiday at one time, because it was too much fun and the merriment lasted too long. And…it was too pagan.
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The only reason I don’t celebrate Christmas is that I don’t enjoy it. If I did enjoy it, I’d celebrate it and wouldn’t worry about all the Jesus stuff. In that respect, my approach to Christmas is similar to my approach to country music.