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A very atheist Christmas - Comments

Follow Peter Egan's Avatar Comment 1 by Follow Peter Egan

"Christmas is only ‘Christian’ because ancient winter pagan celebrations were incorporated by the Church."

Yes, that's what I always say. Though personally I loathe xmas only a little bit less than I loathe the faux jollity of new year. Purely for emotive reasons. It's a time of year loved ones die, and I feel much more interested in reflection than ostentation.

Like Jesus, though, I love my mince pies.

Wed, 21 Dec 2011 21:47:03 UTC | #901792

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 2 by Premiseless

I'm all for Hitch quote crackers, Dennett Santas and Double Helix Candles. Anything rooted in reality absent abandoning ones sensibilities to external agency. Science up celebration since theism has gatecrashed these occasions for far far too long. Transitions underway and don't take your foot off your rights to be yourself! Our tribal roots entitle us to camaraderie! The trouble is theism is like a hunter in waiting , ready to claim your allegiance. Do as thou wilt and harm none, is always a phrase I thought made much sense. Take care.

Wed, 21 Dec 2011 21:50:58 UTC | #901793

Michael Gray's Avatar Comment 3 by Michael Gray

"Most atheists grew up in religious households"
Oh no they don't!
Is this another example parochial of the world being restricted to the USA?

Wed, 21 Dec 2011 22:16:12 UTC | #901798

Wendy Farts On Her Bible's Avatar Comment 4 by Wendy Farts On Her Bible

'...we [atheists] are not in the habit of kicking Santa in the shins, tearing down creches, or, like the Grinch, stealing the Christmas stockings from the mantle.'

We are certainly not.

I, for one, don't even begrudge Ted Haggard having fun this Christmas with his life-size inflatable Jesus doll.

Wed, 21 Dec 2011 22:26:18 UTC | #901800

Mette's Avatar Comment 5 by Mette

Personally my family celebrates Yule, we never go to church and we don't really listen to Christian christmas songs. This wasn't a Christian celebration to begin with, and I celebrate it that way.

Wed, 21 Dec 2011 22:41:12 UTC | #901803

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 6 by Alan4discussion

There's nothing wrong with a mid-winter party, even if commercialism and religios have high-jacked aspects of it!

Some Christians have accused me of being hypocritical for celebrating a Christian holiday. However – and perhaps this is from my background in anthropology – celebrations are a natural part of human culture, and Christians simply appropriated local celebrations to suit their own peculiar beliefs. Christmas is only ‘Christian’ because ancient winter pagan celebrations were incorporated by the Church.

Yuletide Greetings! - http://skandland.com/vikxmas.htm A whole load of celebrations were stolen from earlier cultures.

Wed, 21 Dec 2011 22:42:57 UTC | #901804

The Jersey Devil's Avatar Comment 7 by The Jersey Devil

I like Christmas because the bright lights and decorations and upbeat music (OK, some Xmas songs are downers, like Blue Christmas) and anticipation of the day all cheer me up during what would otherwise be a dark, dreary and cold time of year.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if the holiday was originally intended to brighten up the days which have the most darkness.

Wed, 21 Dec 2011 23:10:05 UTC | #901812

MilitantNonStampCollector's Avatar Comment 8 by MilitantNonStampCollector

Comment 6 by Alan4discussion

There's nothing wrong with a mid-winter party, even if commercialism and religios have high-jacked aspects of it!


Funny that. The first Christmas was a commercial orgy... something about outrageous gifts and wise men bleating on.

Wed, 21 Dec 2011 23:18:27 UTC | #901815

Wendy Farts On Her Bible's Avatar Comment 9 by Wendy Farts On Her Bible

Comment 4 by Wendy Farts On Her Bible

I, for one, don't even begrudge Ted Haggard having fun this Christmas with his life-size inflatable Jesus doll.

Due to the Stigmata and other such phenomena, the life-size inflatable Jesus doll possesses more orifices than is usual.

(I know that there are lots of pedants out there.)

Wed, 21 Dec 2011 23:22:00 UTC | #901816

mmurray's Avatar Comment 10 by mmurray

Comment 6 by Alan4discussion :

There's nothing wrong with a mid-winter party,

Or even a mid-summer party :-)

Michael

Wed, 21 Dec 2011 23:25:12 UTC | #901818

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 11 by Steve Zara

Nothing but good can come from a few days of self-indulgence and rest. Also, new non-religious traditions seem to have appeared in the UK, like the annual december 25th celebration of the story of the one who came to Earth to save us all (and did, many times) and who rose from the dead (again, many times). It's the Dr Who Christmas special!

My Christmas routine in recent times is to visit my mother-in-law in the North of England, and I love seeing in-laws I don't see at other times of the year, and cooking a large meal for them all.

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all here, believers, non-believers, faithful, doubters, agnostics and atheists a happy Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah, whatever you celebrate to mark the Winter/Summer Solstice time of year.

Peace and happiness.

Steve

Wed, 21 Dec 2011 23:33:40 UTC | #901821

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 12 by Alan4discussion

Comment 8 by Derek M

Funny that. The first Christmas was a commercial orgy... something about outrageous gifts and wise men bleating on.

There was a rumour, that messiahs could have been born more recently in various cities, but apparently in many of them they were unable to find three wise men or a virgin!

Wed, 21 Dec 2011 23:41:01 UTC | #901823

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 13 by Cartomancer

I have always loved Christmas. Ever since I was tiny. The festivity, the jolliness, the presents, the fun... none of that has any religious overtones. And even if there is a passing cultural reference to the myth of the holy birth (be it Jesus or Mithras or Horus or just the sun), we know it's just a bit of cultural window-dressing like the Santa thing.

Sadly I'm not feeling it this year, for personal emotional reasons. But I shall not detain this forum with those. There will be other christmases to enjoy when the anxiety and bad things have been resolved - for the better or otherwise.

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 00:09:24 UTC | #901826

Functional Atheist's Avatar Comment 14 by Functional Atheist

Comment 3 by Michael Gray :

"Most atheists grew up in religious households" Oh no they don't! Is this another example parochial of the world being restricted to the USA?

You're right. It would have been more accurate if she had written "Most American atheists grew up in religious households."

But on the other hand, give me a break. An American writer for an American newspaper whose audience is primarily American is hardly a fool or a chauvinist for writing it the way she did. In addition, the paragraph that followed the sentence you object to is full of Americanism--like a reference to Dr. Seuss' Grinch--that made it clear she was writing in reference to the United States, or to cultures that widely celebrate Xmas. She surely wasn't referring to China or similar places where the majority of atheists were NOT born in religious households.

Granted, there was a teaching opportunity implicit in qualifying her statement, but that would be a tangent to the thrust of her article, so again I return to the notion of 'give me--or more precisely, give the writer of this article--a break.'

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 01:15:20 UTC | #901831

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 15 by QuestioningKat

I'm much prefer Halloween.

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 01:15:48 UTC | #901832

Sean_W's Avatar Comment 16 by Sean_W

Absolutely, and I'd like to encourage the would be Scrooges to learn their role. They play an essential part in the Christmas story, but it's a well defined part and missing by even a little throws the whole thing off. It won't do to just complain during the holidays about things like commercialism, and missing the point of Christmas, blah, blah, blah. That's not how the role of miserable bastard is meant to be played.

Listen up Ebeneezers, it's quite simple really: "why the hell are all these idiots so fucking happy?" "christ, could they be more annoying?" --that's it, nothing else is required, just the discontent that can sometimes accompany seeing others jolly fucking alright for no good reason -bah humbug

We love that role, ah, cheer up won't ya!

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 01:26:17 UTC | #901834

mmurray's Avatar Comment 17 by mmurray

Comment 14 by Functional Atheist :

Comment 3 by Michael Gray :

"Most atheists grew up in religious households" Oh no they don't! Is this another example parochial of the world being restricted to the USA?

You're right. It would have been more accurate if she had written "Most American atheists grew up in religious households."

And even worse she is a seasonist:

Christmas is only ‘Christian’ because ancient winter pagan celebrations were incorporated by the Church.

The irony for me in the Xmas for Christians discussion is that nobody asks which Christians ? Once they stop us celebrating Xmas they will start arguing over which of them are the "real" Christians.

Michael

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 01:49:15 UTC | #901839

secularjew's Avatar Comment 18 by secularjew

I'm a Jewish atheist and I celebrate Christmas. Deal with that, Christians.

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 03:18:04 UTC | #901846

Agrajag's Avatar Comment 19 by Agrajag

Comment 13 by Cartomancer

Sadly I'm not feeling it this year, for personal emotional reasons. But I shall not detain this forum with those. There will be other christmases to enjoy when the anxiety and bad things have been resolved - for the better or otherwise.

Well, I am sorry to hear that, but hope your somewhat guarded optimism is eventually realized.
Meanwhile, let me be the first to extend best (if not exactly "merry") Christmas wishes to you, and thank you for your comments on this site. I have enjoyed them all, and probably learned a thing ot two as well.
Best,
Steve

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 04:23:39 UTC | #901850

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 20 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator - spam

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 05:04:04 UTC | #901852

The Peak Oil Poet's Avatar Comment 21 by The Peak Oil Poet

Here's what i recon

if you have a naturally cheery Christmas heart - atheist or Islamic or Buddhist flavor - whatever you like

  1. any money you would have spent on the holiday - give it away to someone who really needs it no matter what they might waste it on

  2. have a "Christmas" dinner but invite only poor people and treat them well and send them off with extra food and gifts

  3. go out the following day and give away as much as you can that's left over

Christmas by whatever name it might have anywhere anywhen, is a time when those who were lucky enough to get through the year with more than enough can share what they have with those who didn't - on the basis that otherwise they would likely disappear from the gene pool and leave the community weakened maybe to the point of eventual failure (ie extinction).

So ok, now we really don't need to be ensuring others of our species survive - in fact it sometimes seems to be the opposite.

so maybe we could drop all the pretense (making yourself feel good is just another game after all) and celebrate "Christmas" by wiping out say 80% of the worlds top consumers.

Maybe 90% is better - i'm not so good with numbers.

Or maybe, maybe, we could all just spend every day humble before the universe and recognize that each and every one of us is in the same boat - and no matter what face you might want to paint on the unknown and unknowable - and no matter what level of "truth" you think that you in all your cleverness might have - you might want to realise that all of everything you know is like everyone you will every know:

just a passing mote of dust

so you might as well be nice :-)

[Link to personal blog removed by moderator]

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 05:27:00 UTC | #901854

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 22 by prettygoodformonkeys

Have a happy holiday, everyone! Sincerely, PGFM

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 05:51:54 UTC | #901860

CdnMacAtheist's Avatar Comment 23 by CdnMacAtheist

I enjoyed this article, and the secular uses of this multi-faith holiday period. I'm a life-long non-theist, so I don't have the lingering memories & effects of religious Christmases. I much prefer celebrating the Winter Solstice and then New Year, both of which have solid foundations in nature and little controversy attached. Peace, on this the first day of Winter, from Toronto.

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 07:16:21 UTC | #901866

f1vnc's Avatar Comment 24 by f1vnc

We have a great family time at Christmas and Jesus only gets mentioned if we happen to burn the mince pies.

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 08:44:36 UTC | #901877

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 25 by rod-the-farmer

My wife makes a great pie at this time of year....Mincekin. Mincemeat on the bottom, topped with a layer of pumpkin. Sinfully good, the way the two flavours mix. Probably falls under the same proscription as the wearing of two fabrics.

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 09:34:19 UTC | #901881

Vorlund's Avatar Comment 26 by Vorlund

I love the seasons merriment but dislike its commercial aspects. I wish people a happy new year the seasons greetings etc.and strenuously avoid wishing them a Merry Christmas, though the expression probably has more to do with festivity and has little bearing on thoughts of christian ideology in most people's minds. We entertain our Sister in Law and her children who are regular bible thumpers and carry on serving dinner while ignoring their incantations.

Perhaps it has come to the time when the format for a secular festival needs to be worked out.

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 09:38:50 UTC | #901882

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 27 by Mr DArcy

Any educated person knows that Santa Claus is the real reason for the northern winter solstice. I mean how else could Santa guarantee almost complete darkness for his delivery system unless he arranged the Earth's orbit to be almost exactly in line with the darkest time of year?

Obviously any "Santas" found in the southern hemisphere are frauds and trying to cash in our light starved northern winter!

Have a good one y'all!

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 09:42:53 UTC | #901883

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 28 by AtheistEgbert

I loathe Christmas, and I actually do think atheists who celebrate it while criticizing Christianity are being hypocritical. Few people are willing to open their eyes and look at the misery Christmas creates for many poor and vulnerable people. While many are stuck in their commercialized bubble, outside of it is the reality of increased suicides, increased divorce and increased domestic violence.

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 09:44:58 UTC | #901884

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 29 by Tyler Durden

Comment 28 by AtheistEgbert :

I loathe Christmas, and I actually do think atheists who celebrate it while criticizing Christianity are being hypocritical.

Christmas has nothing to do with Christianity, don't you get it? It's a ancient cleberation of Winter solstice\Pagan rituals in order to survive the long, dark winter, and enjoy time with close family/friends.

You may as well say those from south of the equator who celebrate Christmas are being hypocritical.

Christianity is pure fiction, the axis of the Earth is quite real.

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 10:27:06 UTC | #901889

Saiph's Avatar Comment 30 by Saiph

I think xmas now reflects more the pagan Winter solstice, the festival of over drinking any eating is more bacchus than anything else.

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 11:47:17 UTC | #901899