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My DS asked me this just a couple of weeks ago. We are atheist. My answer

1/ tradition, it's a family tradition that we have a tree, santa comes, gifts are exchanged and we feast. We have been doing this for generations, and this tradition has absolutely nothing to do with the birth of Christ. Christmas is a cultural construct, built over many years with many traditions adopted into the whole thing. I have wondered how we can completely expurge Christ from Christmas but I just can't loose the carols, I love 'em.

 

2/ Before Christmas was Saturnalia, celebrated at much the same time for the winter solstice. My understanding is the Roman emporer took over Saturnalia for Christian purposes when he converted (happy to be corrected here) so there has been a celebration at this time of the year for far longer than there has been a Christian reason for one. We obviously are dealing with summer solstice, but I have been starting to ponder how we can bring the solstice more into our celebrations as we edge the Jesus stuff out.

 

Anyway, that was what I said to my son. While others are wondering about how to get the Christ back in Christmas, I'm wondering how to remove him entirely. Maybe in our family we need to call it Solstice instead of Christmas.

Edited by keptwoman
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Christmas = Christ + Mass

 

There is no "Christmas" without Christ. And, in this particular case, the Christ in question is Jesus Christ.

 

Now, there are other holidays that occur at the same time of year that can be celebrated with equal vigor:

 

Saturnalia (12-23 Dec 2010)

Winter Solstice/Yule (21 Dec 2010)

Kwanzaa (26 Dec 2010 - 1 Jan 2011)

 

I'd add Hanukkah, but it isn't the kind of holiday that people seem to think it is.

 

Personally, I've never understood why non-Christians celebrate Christmas. To me, it would be like non-Muslims celebrating Eid. People don't go around doing that now, do they?

 

JMO

 

 

a

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We're an atheist family, and like Sandra said, we celebrate Christmas as a set of secular traditions. We considered just calling it Winter Solstice too, but we didn't because of the grandparents. The grandparents know we aren't religious, but it's one of those things where everyone wants to pretend that we aren't really atheists. At any rate, my husband and I certainly don't want to be meanies about holidays. Except, we put our foot down about not perpetuating the Santa Claus myth, so grumblings about us being like the cynical parents from Miracle on 34th Street have been made.

 

We've tried to make Christmas into a time to reinforce the importance of charity, kindness, and family. Each year, we read Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. They know that some people celebrate Christmas chiefly because they believe a special baby named Christ was born who would later become a prophet (and so on), but we also educate them about Saturnalia, Yule, and other winter festivals around the world.

 

Do we as atheists sit down to ponder whether we should have objections to all the history surrounding other cultural holidays, such as Thanksgiving? Nope, not really. It isn't so much that we're being willfully ignorant, it's just that those holidays have come to mean something different for us than it might have meant originally. Since most religious holidays are already so removed from their beginnings even within their faith, I don't see the big deal. I think there's also something to be said for devout Christians not celebrating Christmas and Easter because of their pagan influences and lack of connection with Scripture. Pot, meet kettle.

Edited by Skadi
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Just because it's in the culture to do so. Simple. I grew up with an atheist dad and a non practicing mum who at the time considered herself Christian but didnt go to church...Christmas was a wonderful time of family connectedness and celebration. Christ was never discussed. We never went to church. It was all about Santa and gift giving (or, rather, as a kid, gift getting), food (and alcohol) and seeing relatives.

And STILL I would say it was meaningful because of the joy of the celebration. I have memories of plaiting my Pa Jack's few strands of hair and cutting his toenails, playing with granma's cat, the sparkling of Christmas Tree lights, being so excited I coudlnt sleep the night before. My gandmother falling asleep on the couch. All my cousins around.

I havent been able to give that to MY kids because we just dont have a close extended family around here- or anyone like my granma. But Christmas, even without Christ, was certainly meaningful and beautiful for me as a child.

As an adult...I could easily live without it but even I, who gets a bit cynical about it all....enjoy parts of it very much.

I live my spirituality every day..no day is more or less meaningful to me in that sense.

Why celebrate Christmas when we dont celebrate Christ the way Christians do? Because we can.

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Tradition, enjoying passing on events and feelings that I enjoyed as a child, not wanting my children to feel 'left out'.

 

I was brought up in an atheist/agnostic (I never asked my parents) home, but we all enjoyed the trappings of Christmas, most of which are not specifically Christian, but more connected to mid-winter celebration: the tree, the presents, the meal. I also enjoy singing carols, and find the story of Jesus' birth entrancing, as I find many other myths entrancing.

 

ETA: when I was a child, all schools in the UK celebrated Christmas; the boys' school still does. The Christian stories and traditions are culturally important, even to those of us who aren't religious.

 

Laura

Edited by Laura Corin
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Because, for me, deciding to stop baking, decorating, gifting, and connecting with family throughout December after a lifetime of doing so would be just as disconcerting as deciding to give up our annual family reunion, our birthday rituals, the Tooth Fairy, and doing the chicken dance at weddings.

 

Christmas involves family traditions that I've never been without, I've always enjoyed, and love watching my children take part in.

 

I've enjoyed making latkes with them this week, too. ;)

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Personally, I've never understood why non-Christians celebrate Christmas. To me, it would be like non-Muslims celebrating Eid. People don't go around doing that now, do they?

 

Um, yes they do. We currently live in a Muslim country, and most people here celebrate Eid even though three quarters of the population are non-Muslim.

 

Yeah, I don't get it either but I guess it is the same for Eid here as for Christmas elsewhere - any excuse for a party.

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We celebrate Christmas as a cultural celebration. We give gifts on Christmas, visit Santa (although don't suggest to the children that he is real), decorate a tree, and eat a good meal with family and friends, non of which have any foundation in Christianity, as far as I understand. We don't go to church or take part in any other religious observation. I am working slowly towards a more seasonally-based Solstice celebration. Breaking with traditions is not easy, especially if there is nothing "pre-packaged" to replace it with. At the moment we have a family picnic to celebrate the summer solstice, and the children open a small gift each day between Solstice and Christmas.

 

Would a non-Muslim celebrate Eid? Well, in a sense, yes. When living in a Muslim country we adhered to Ramadan requirements that we not eat in public during daylight hours, both as a matter of local law and as a matter of courtesy. We attended an Eid celebration as invited guests, and we enjoyed Iftar buffets which were common at local restaurants when people were breaking their daily Ramadan fast. We enjoyed (and respected) the celebratory and spiritual aspect of Ramadan without it being our traditional celebration or belief. A similar picture emerged in a recent thread on Judaism, where posters spoke of being includes in various Jewish celebration and religious traditions despite not belonging to the faith.

 

Without being inflammatory, it seems to me to be a better question to ponder is why so many Christians buy into the commercial aspects of Christmas to the degree that they do. Much of what we call "celebrating Christmas" has little to do with the religious meaning of Christmas, and from discussions I have seen online there seems to a growing group of Christians who choose not to participate in the commercial celebrations of Christmas and Easter.

 

Nikki

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Without being inflammatory, it seems to me to be a better question to ponder is why so many Christians buy into the commercial aspects of Christmas to the degree that they do. Much of what we call "celebrating Christmas" has little to do with the religious meaning of Christmas

 

Nikki

 

 

Exactly! As a catholic, the weeks leading up to Christmas are a time to prepare the hearts of my family to truly appreciate and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and the centuries of prophecies and waiting that preceded Christ's birth (and now await His Second Coming). There is an emphasis on waiting with solemn joy. I am baffled by the commonplace acceptance of celebrating the feast before the feast. Well, I am not really baffled because our entire culture is bent toward not waiting; joyful anticipation is no longer valued.

I do appreciate celebrating Christmas and Easter during Christmas and Easter because by the time the feast rolls around, the commercialism has been packed away. We can then celebrate Christmas (25 Dec - 5 Jan or 2 Feb) and Easter without the distractions - well except for the Valentine decorations that go up on the 2nd day of Christmas! ;)

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Okay, so I have a question and it has been bothering me.... a lot.

 

Why do non-Christians celebrate Christmas?

 

I am _specifically_ considering atheists, but didn't want to limit the question.

 

Thoughts?

 

Kris

 

I've been wondering the same thing. I think that most people have kind of lost the true meaning of Christmas anyway; it's become so commercialized that I think a lot of people see it as just an excuse for taking time off from work and getting/giving presents and having parties. It would certainly not hold the same meaning for non-Christians as it does for Christians, a prospect that I consider very sad. It would be kind of hollow, KWIM?

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It's cultural.

I once had a philosophy prof who was an atheist but of Jewish heritage. His son was an atheist too, but doing his Bar-mitzvah. I thought this was crazy (I was a Christian at the time). Now, remembering the explanation the father and son gave for going ahead with the Bar-mitzvah (and how the son gave a speech explaining that he didn't believe in God, but explaining to folks at the event why he was having it--sorry, too long to explain here and perhaps not very compelling being told from a third person, 15 years later ;) I can appreciate it more.

 

Religion is becoming culture, and Christmas is a great example. Look at the whole "Merry Christmas" thing. People are expected to say Merry Christmas to everyone whether they're Christian or not, and simply assume they are. Christmas is a secularized holiday. My family in Asia celebrate Christmas though they are Buddhist/atheist. That's one thing that comes with being a large evangelistic sort of religion or power, people will adopt/use/change whatever they can to be a part of it and participate in the majority (or perceived majority) or the loudest, or the most fun-seeming :), elements of society.

 

We're celebrating Christmas this year, and we'll read a couple of religious Christmas stories, including the Luke 2 passage, and have stockings and the tree, and the cookies. I keep thinking that we'll adopt more of the earth-oriented holidays, but they aren't as meaningful to us. My husband and I like to talk about our Christmases with the children. My family was non-religious, and my hubby grew up Catholic, and we both had Christmas. I assume they did because their families did before them.

 

Why wouldn't secularists adopt the secular aspects of a religious holiday? Especially if those traditions have special meanings for them.

 

I realize that, several years ago, I would have been frustrated and smacked my head at this issue, asking the same question as the OP. Now, things aren't as cut-and-dried to me.

 

T.

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Christmas = Christ + Mass

 

There is no "Christmas" without Christ. And, in this particular case, the Christ in question is Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

It is a national holiday. You get Dec. 25 off (unless you're in an essential occupation and then you get holiday pay) whether or not you believe that Jesus is the Christ. I guess you could move the party to the day of solstice, but then you'd have to take vacation and what would you do on the 25th when everything's closed?

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We attend a Unitarian church and celebrate Christmas. Our church also celebrates and acknowleges Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa. And Eid for that matter. :001_smile: It also does family community service project on Black Friday.

 

Christmas is very much a traditional, cultural holiday and it's no coincidence that it falls within days of Winter Solstice. Just because people don't specifically celebrate the birth of Christ doesn't mean they can't draw joy, wisdom, and meaning from a season giving and darkness. Our kids know the Christmas story well.

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I've heard of quite a few Christians having a sedar on Passover, or lighting a menorah on Hanukkah and so on. And they're not Jewish. Sometimes people just like to adopt other traditions or learn more about other cultures or to appreciate certain holiday gestures or to expose their children to different things or whatever the case may be. I think that's fine.

 

I think it's fine if someone who isn't Christian wants to do the same when it comes to Christmas, be that a Jewish person or an athiest. To one person, the holiday may be all about religion. But to another it's about family and friends and culture and tradition and happy memories and exchanging gifts (not to be confused with receiving gifts, it's the giving, too). And it can also be about doing nice things for other people. I'm not Christian and we DON'T celebrate Christmas per se but my daughter will still go and sing Christmas carols to the residents at a nursing home to brighten their day, with her Girl Scouts troup. We give money to the Salvation Army Santas (in fact, my 10 year old daughter had $5.00 of her own money on her- it was all she had- and she gave her whole $5.00 to one of those "Santas" just yesterday and told me "they need it more than I do"). We appreciate how pretty the twinkling lights look all over town. And sometimes we'll share a meal with a relative-in-law or friend who DOES celebrate Christmas. I know of some Jewish families who put up a decorated tree and call it a "Hanukkah bush" so their kids don't feel so excluded and because they appreciate how pretty it looks...but then again Christmas trees were never really about Jesus anyway, were they. I mean, wasn't that originally a pagan thing?

 

Anyway, I don't find any of this culture, tradition, fun and good spirit "hollow" even if it's being done in a totally secular way, but we all have our own way of seeing and thinking about things, and I'm pretty much of a "to each his own" mindset. If you're not hurting someone else, have fun and do your thing!

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I don't actually know any atheists/agnostics who DON'T celebrate Christmas. :001_huh:

 

I wasn't raised as a Christian (became one as an adult). My parents were atheists - yet we always had Christmas. Did we go to church? No. We had Santa, presents, parties, chocolate, turkey dinner, house filled with cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. That's what I knew as "Christmas" as a kid.

 

I think I was around 11 before I really made the connection between the "bible stuff" and Christmas ;)

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Christmas = Christ + Mass

 

There is no "Christmas" without Christ. And, in this particular case, the Christ in question is Jesus Christ.

 

 

When my kids were little, I went through a lot of effort to emphasize the birth of Christ during the holiday season. But it didn't take my husband I long to decide to downplay that aspect the closer it came to Christmas. Seriously--once when my kids were very small they were poised to rip into the gifts and my husband started in with the "Why we celebrate...". I told him not to bother because 1) they weren't exactly teachable at that moment and 2) I can't stretch my imagination far enough to make a spiritual connection between the gift-giving that the holiday has come to be centered around and the birth of the Christ Child.

 

As the years go on and I see all the other aspects--secular, commercial, traditional, cultural, family--of the holiday I'm pretty convinced that we Christians should be asking why we still celebrate Christmas instead of asking why non-Christians celebrate it. Unlike Passover, it is a remembrance invented by man who merged into an existing pagan celbration, incorporating pagan traditions. Add on all that cultures have added. Most of us wouldn't be willing/able to strip away every single thing that doesn't pertain to remembering, reflecting, and worshiping.

 

A few years ago a friend sent me an email forward suggesting people boycot a department store chain for substituting "Holiday" sales for "Christmas". I told her I thought that it was good news because I really can't believe that God is any too pleased about how Christmas has evolved here in the US.

 

Holidays aren't stagnant--they adapt and change just as cultures do. Don't get me wrong--there are aspects of the Christmas season that I enjoy and appreciate and that we do celebrate. But I'm not sure that as Christians we really want to lay sole claim to all that this holiday has become.

 

Just my 2 cents.

Edited by Pippen
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We're an atheist family, and like Sandra said, we celebrate Christmas as a set of secular traditions. We considered just calling it Winter Solstice too, but we didn't because of the grandparents. The grandparents know we aren't religious, but it's one of those things where everyone wants to pretend that we aren't really atheists. At any rate, my husband and I certainly don't want to be meanies about holidays. Except, we put our foot down about not perpetuating the Santa Claus myth, so grumblings about us being like the cynical parents from Miracle on 34th Street have been made.

 

We've tried to make Christmas into a time to reinforce the importance of charity, kindness, and family. Each year, we read Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. They know that some people celebrate Christmas chiefly because they believe a special baby named Christ was born who would later become a prophet (and so on), but we also educate them about Saturnalia, Yule, and other winter festivals around the world.

 

Do we as atheists sit down to ponder whether we should have objections to all the history surrounding other cultural holidays, such as Thanksgiving? Nope, not really. It isn't so much that we're being willfully ignorant, it's just that those holidays have come to mean something different for us than it might have meant originally. Since most religious holidays are already so removed from their beginnings even within their faith, I don't see the big deal. I think there's also something to be said for devout Christians not celebrating Christmas and Easter because of their pagan influences and lack of connection with Scripture. Pot, meet kettle.

 

:iagree:

 

Were Christmas celebrated like Eid or Hanukkah (as a religious celebration rather than a marketing event that lasts 5 months...local stores started decorating in August) I would feel differently about celebrating it.

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my husband started in with the "Why we celebrate...". I told him not to bother because 1) they weren't exactly teachable at that moment and 2) I can't stretch my imagination far enough to make a spiritual connection between the gift-giving that the holiday has come to be centered around and the birth of the Christ Child.

 

 

 

 

Addressing the bolded part specifically: I remind my dc that on their birthdays, people who love them give them presents. We talk about Christmas being the celebration of Jesus's birthday. We discuss how Jesus said, "Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me." And we then discuss how we can show our love for Jesus by giving presents to other people at Christmas.

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Well I grew up going to church on christmas. I remember thinking what a funny coincidence it was that the birth of Jesus was celebrated on the same day as Christmas. I also knew Dec. 25 was a day that was picked for Jesus birth and that wasn't really the day he was born, but the day he celebrated it.

 

But Christmas and the Jesus part have always been two totally different things that just happen to fall on the same day. There has never been any sort of connect between Jesus and trees, Santa, stocking, lights, presents, reindeer and all that.

 

Christmas is about spending time with friends and family, doing things for people, beautiful trees and lights, special meals with people, and being grateful for what you have. And being the recipient of other people doing things for you (yes getting presents as well as giving).

 

It's tradition and part of our culture. Like fireworks on July 4th, turkey on thanksgiving, bbqs on Memorial and Labor Day, dressing up on Halloween and eggs and rabbits on Easter.

 

Easter's another good one. Again, growing up I could never, ever find a connection between the death/resurrection of Jesus and a large happy rabbit going house to house leaving chocolate and hiding eggs. But again, it was two things death/res. of Jesus, and Easter the holiday (eggs/rabbit) both celebrated on the same day.

 

Lots or religions celebrate christmas here in the US as well as other countries. But to many it's the celebration of Christmas, not the celebration of Jesus.

 

Lots of church going christians celebrate both. Or they say they celebrate both. I actually saw this when I moved to the south and heard the tradition of a birthday cake for Jesus. To me that made sense. You are celebrating Jesus on the same day you are celebrating christmas. But you are still celebrating christmas if you are doing a tree, presents and all. But you aren't celebrating Jesus with a tree and candy canes, and espeically with Santa and reindeer.

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Addressing the bolded part specifically: I remind my dc that on their birthdays, people who love them give them presents. We talk about Christmas being the celebration of Jesus's birthday. We discuss how Jesus said, "Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me." And we then discuss how we can show our love for Jesus by giving presents to other people at Christmas.

 

I know that argument, plus one year MIL tossed in that we give gifts because the wise men brought gifts to the infant Christ. Likewise we give gifts because God gave us the greatest gift of all.

 

Still I have problems with it. I get the gift giving connection to the those groups--the poor, widowed, orphan--in His name. But personally I struggle with saying "I'm giving you this video game in celebration of Christ's birth." It just doesn't work for me.

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Why do non-Christians celebrate Christmas?

 

 

 

My family celebrates the secular version of Christmas, with the tree, presents, Santa, food, family, and so forth all around solstice time because it is a family tradition and because it's fun.

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We celebrate because DH has always celebrated, since he is Hindu and they don't have a gift giving holiday around this time of year most of the time and his parents didn't want him to feel left out. My mother in law is Christian so it is a bit of holdover from her childhood/early adulthood too. It also works out wonderfully for us, since my family doesn't celebrate it means we do Thanksgiving every year with my parents and siblings and Christmas with my in-laws, which really is just another big Thanksgiving meal with a tree and gifts.

 

Sure we could do winter solstice, but since almost everyone has the 25th off anyways since it is considered a federal holiday it is easiest to celebrate our winter holiday with gifts, a huge meal and a decorated tree then, rather then having DH have to take off work to celebrate some other day.

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I get the gift giving connection to the those groups--the poor, widowed, orphan--in His name. But personally I struggle with saying "I'm giving you this video game in celebration of Christ's birth." It just doesn't work for me.

 

Right--giving to the least would to me mean focusing on giving to the poor rather than the whole commercial nature of the holiday.

 

But, I'm not Christian, and I don't celebrate Christmas. We celebrate the solstice.

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We celebrate both the Solstice and Christmas, but in very different ways. We even decorate two (small) trees--one for Solstice and one for Christmas.

 

Solstice is our religious holiday. We have our Solstice tree decorated with nature-themed and solar-themed ornaments. If it falls during the week, my husband tries to take off from work, and we talk about the significance of the Solstice, have a special meal and open our presents. We also have our traditional (for our family;)) movies to watch--"The Hogfather" with my daughter, then "Hebrew Hammer" (while eating Chinese takeout) after she goes to bed.:). Our Unitarian Universalist church usually has a Winter Solstice service on the Sunday closest to the date.

 

Christmas is primarily about the specifically American cultural festival and getting together with extended family. We do Santa stockings at home, have a tree decorated with family-related ornaments, we do a chocolate Advent calendar (decorated with Santa). We will either attend a party at a friend's house for Christmas Eve or go to the service at our UU church. On Christmas Day, we travel to brunch with my family (an odd mix of very religiously focused and playing "Dirty Santa"---I have a hard time reconciling the two and don't play). Then we go to my in-laws for dinner and presents, not religiously focused at all.

 

As part of both we enjoy riding around and looking at the lights, displays of gingerbread houses, participating in holiday parties and plays. We have a similar separation of religious/cultural holidays for Samhain/Halloween, Summer Solstice/July 4th and Vernal Equinox/Easter.

 

If we were living in and had been raised in Israel or a Muslim country, yes, we probably would celebrate the cultural aspects of Jewish or Muslim holidays, because they would be as pervasive as Christmas and Easter are here.

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Right--giving to the least would to me mean focusing on giving to the poor rather than the whole commercial nature of the holiday.

 

This is what has bothered me about the choice by my very conservative evangelical Christian family to celebrate Christmas by playing "Dirty Santa" for the adults' presents at the family brunch. To me, it is celebrating the very worst aspects of the greed and commercialism, particularly because many of them get very mean and angry if someone is perceived as getting a "better" gift or one that they didn't "deserve." This is even though the dollar limit is $5 and everyone has the opportunity to bring a "good" gift that they would want to receive. I've suggested giving to charity instead, or just focusing on being together, but that was not popular. My husband and I have declined to participate in that the last few years and wash dishes or clean up instead. My sister and her husband, who are also Christian, but much more moderate and not evangelical at all, have recently joined me. I imagine it has more to do with family dynamics (it's the step side of my family who do this) than their religious affiliation, though.

 

We are Neopagan Unitarian Universalists, see my other post for how we celebrate the holidays.

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My family celebrates the secular version of Christmas, with the tree, presents, Santa, food, family, and so forth all around solstice time because it is a family tradition and because it's fun.

 

This. I'm also well aware of the historical context of the holiday, and it isn't remotely only about the birth of Christ even though we call it Christmas.

Edited by Mejane
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Still I have problems with it. I get the gift giving connection to the those groups--the poor, widowed, orphan--in His name. But personally I struggle with saying "I'm giving you this video game in celebration of Christ's birth." It just doesn't work for me.

 

That's why we don't do it. We can give up the hoopla without giving up Christmas. :001_smile:

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This. I'm also well aware of the historical context of the holiday, and it isn't remotely only about the birth of Christ even though we call it Christmas.

 

Yes, there's a whole lot of not Christian stuff wrapped-up in the celebration of Christmas. Like most traditions over time, Christmas absorbed the traditions that came before. I have a number of Jewish friends who celebrate most all the Jewish holidays, even go to Temple, and don't believe in God. It's tradition they say... it's our culture. Some of them even celebrate Christmas too. :D

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I know that argument, plus one year MIL tossed in that we give gifts because the wise men brought gifts to the infant Christ. Likewise we give gifts because God gave us the greatest gift of all.

 

Still I have problems with it. I get the gift giving connection to the those groups--the poor, widowed, orphan--in His name. But personally I struggle with saying "I'm giving you this video game in celebration of Christ's birth." It just doesn't work for me.

 

 

:iagree:It's always felt like I was trying to put a spiritual glaze over a perfectly good, rustic pot. I couldn't just let the the tradition be beautiful on it's own. For some reason it had to "Christianized" or it was bad.

 

Now, we just enjoy being together. Yes we talk about the nativity story and other traditional tales. It's a beautiful time together!!!

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My family celebrates the secular version of Christmas, with the tree, presents, Santa, food, family, and so forth all around solstice time because it is a family tradition and because it's fun.

 

This. And, we also celebrate the whole solstice season (from Solstice to New Year's)

 

We celebrate because DH has always celebrated, .....

Sure we could do winter solstice, but since almost everyone has the 25th off anyways since it is considered a federal holiday it is easiest to celebrate our winter holiday with gifts, a huge meal and a decorated tree then, rather then having DH have to take off work to celebrate some other day.

 

Also this. It was tradition for both me and dh growing up. For both of us, it was always a fun, family thing. Except his evening was ruined by having to stay up to go to midnight mass (so he says), and mine was just ruined by a grumpy atheist dad.

 

This. I'm also well aware of the historical context of the holiday, and it isn't remotely only about the birth of Christ even though we call it Christmas.

 

And, finally this. I don't get why christians get their panties in a wad about anyone (besides themselves) celebrating Christmas when the day isn't even remotely close to the actual birth date of Christ. It's a made-up holiday, ganked by a Roman emperor to conveniently coincide with an already established holiday. Christians decided to attach certain meanings to it for themselves, so why can't anyone else? As a non-christian, it is just more culturally relevant to call it Christmas, since that's the dominant paradigm's popular name for this time of year and that particular day. What meaning I choose to attach to it is up to me, just as it is up to everyone else to decide how much significance it is to them.

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Christmas is no longer just about Christianity. You can see that everywhere around you. I highly doubt Santa Claus visited baby Jesus or that snowmen and elves were used as decorations for the manger. I don't mean to be flippant, but Christmas is a fun, gift-giving, family-gathering holiday that even non-Christians can enjoy.

 

I rarely see Christian references to Christmas and I live in the Bible belt. I noticed it last Christmas in a similar thread. I didn't see one nativity scene and houses decorate with Santa in his sled, reindeer, snowflakes, snowmen, and lots of lights (sometimes gaudy).

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Cultural celebration. Christmas itself is a co-opting of a long line of other holidays, anyway -- almost every culture has a winter celebration involving gifts and feasting. Many of the traditions of Christmas aren't Christian in origin, either.

 

Santa in his current incarnation isn't particularly Christian.

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When I was younger, and probably until I was about 6 or 7, we celebrated Advent and Christmas. Advent was the time to recognize Christ birth and all the religious things. Christmas was simply a secular holiday that we celebrated for the food, family, and presents, not Jesus.

My mother kinda stopped practicing her beliefs and we no longer do Advent. We just do Christmas, but we do it for secular reasons, not religious.

When I have kids, I plan to do Advent and the 12 days of Christmas for religious reasons, but Christmas will be the secular, commercialized holiday that it really is.

I never understood why *we* got presents when it was supposed to represent the presents Jesus got from the wise men. I understand now that Christmas is about giving as well, but still, it just doesn't really seem like a Christian holiday when so many people of different religions or no religion at all are fighting for the best price or getting up at 3am for Black Friday shopping. It's ridiculous and I don't want to show my children Christmas is for Christ, because really, it isn't anymore.

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I can see why athiests would celebrate Christmas. It's fun, and it's pretty easy to keep it secular.

 

I'm Christian though, and I recently spent some time learning about the disturbing history of some of the Christmas traditions, and am feeling this year horribly betrayed by what was once my favorite holiday! So this year, as Christians, we're keeping the Christmas huff to an absolute minimum, because it's becoming a bit of a conscience issue for me!

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don't you mean resurrection day? :tongue_smilie:

 

Does the easter bunny ressurect? Is that why he is so happy that he shares eggs and candy? :D

 

Although another meaning for that holiday when it's called Ishtar is celebrating the resurrection of a god, or gods, not sure which one. I actually think this version is way more interesting than the Christian version.

 

But we don't celebrate it as religious at all. We aren't pagan either. We aren't atheists because we can't say God doesn't exist. We aren't agnostics because we don't question any of it. We're totally indifferent and don't believe any of it matters at all. Maybe we should be called Hallmarkers, because we celebrate most of the Hallmark holidays. :)

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Although another meaning for that holiday when it's called Ishtar is celebrating the resurrection of a god, or gods, not sure which one. I actually think this version is way more interesting than the Christian version.

 

The typical name I've seen for the vernal equinox in Western Neopaganism is Ostara. I've not seen it referred to as Ishtar--interesting. Easter (and Ostara) comes from Eostre (perhaps a Germanic goddess--bunnies are thanks to this connection), not Ishtar or Astarte. Different language family altogether. The Christian holiday is also not "Easter" in countries with languages not influenced by German, which I find interesting. It's usually called some variant of Paschal (as in Paschal Lamb). In France, bells, not a bunny, fly in from Rome with the candy and eggs.

 

http://www.ceisiwrserith.com/paganfamily/chapter7.htm is a great article on seasonal celebrations in Neopaganism (though long). On Ostara:

Ostara" is one of a number of similar names that are used for this day. "Eoster" and "Eostre" are also popular, and, especially among Norse Pagans, "Easter." It is ironic that the English word for the holiest day in the Christian year should have a Pagan origin. Bede relates it to Eostre, the Germanic spring Goddess. There is some doubt that a such a Goddess actually existed. However, it definitely comes from the Indo-European "*Ausro," from the root "*aus-", meaning "to rise." Johann Knobloch has theorized that the Germanic word therefore originally meant "dawn" (Robbins, 1978, p. 202). Ostara is the dawn of the year, then.

 

The choice among the different names is up to you. "Easter", while defensible, is confusing. "Ostara" is Old High German, but it fits Modern English better than the Old English "Eoster" and is probably the best choice. Some Pagans call it "Lady Day." This is one of the names of the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25), and is probably of Christian origin.

 

One point that must be made here is that "Easter" is not related to "Ishtar" or "Astarte." The names of these Goddesses are Semitic, not Indo-European. It is true, however, that their myths and rituals are sympathetic to Ostara, and may be incorporated into its celebration (subject to the removal of harvest associations).

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:D And now for my annual posting of the following:

 

 

 

For So the Children Come

 

by Sophia Lyon Fahs

 

For so the children come

And so they have been coming.

Always in the same way they come

born of the seed of man and woman.

 

No angels herald their beginnings.

No prophets predict their future courses.

No wisemen see a star to show where to find the babe

that will save humankind.

 

Yet each night a child is born is a holy night,

Fathers and mothers--

sitting beside their children's cribs

feel glory in the sight of a new life beginning.

 

They ask, "Where and how will this new life end?

Or will it ever end?"

 

Each night a child is born is a holy night--

A time for singing,

A time for wondering,

A time for worshipping.

 

Copyright by Unitarian-Universalist Association

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:D And now for my annual posting of the following:

 

 

 

For So the Children Come

 

by Sophia Lyon Fahs

 

For so the children come

And so they have been coming.

Always in the same way they come

born of the seed of man and woman.

 

No angels herald their beginnings.

No prophets predict their future courses.

No wisemen see a star to show where to find the babe

that will save humankind.

 

Yet each night a child is born is a holy night,

Fathers and mothers--

sitting beside their children's cribs

feel glory in the sight of a new life beginning.

 

They ask, "Where and how will this new life end?

Or will it ever end?"

 

Each night a child is born is a holy night--

A time for singing,

A time for wondering,

A time for worshipping.

 

Copyright by Unitarian-Universalist Association

 

Every year, without fail, that song makes me cry. I'm tearing up right now, but put me in a darkened church surrounded by little ones, and I'm hopeless. Thank you for sharing it here.

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Because, for me, deciding to stop baking, decorating, gifting, and connecting with family throughout December after a lifetime of doing so would be just as disconcerting as deciding to give up our annual family reunion, our birthday rituals, the Tooth Fairy, and doing the chicken dance at weddings.

 

Christmas involves family traditions that I've never been without, I've always enjoyed, and love watching my children take part in.

 

I've enjoyed making latkes with them this week, too. ;)

 

I don't know Carrie, Christmas versus the Chicken Dance? :lol: Enjoy!

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Every year, without fail, that song makes me cry. I'm tearing up right now, but put me in a darkened church surrounded by little ones, and I'm hopeless. Thank you for sharing it here.

 

 

I did not know it was a song! lol I've been reading it from my UU hymnal for about 25 years now. lol

 

Must get it on my iPod. Artist?

 

ETA: Or do the children at your church sing it?

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Okay, so I have a question and it has been bothering me.... a lot.

 

Why do non-Christians celebrate Christmas?

 

I am _specifically_ considering atheists, but didn't want to limit the question.

 

Thoughts?

 

Kris

Because they want to. Because Christians don't own the day or the season. Because axial tilt is the reason for the season. Because it was a special time of year long before Jesus or Christians existed. Because it has little to do with Christ. Because there's no reason not to. Because each day is what you make of it and everyone has a right to celebrate what they want to and none of us need permission from anyone else. Because our children are just as deserving of presents and fun as Christian children. Because we exist.

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I did not know it was a song! lol I've been reading it from my UU hymnal for about 25 years now. lol

 

Must get it on my iPod. Artist?

 

ETA: Or do the children at your church sing it?

 

Sorry, sorry, sorry--you're right, it's a reading! I think I just said song because of it being in the hymnal.

 

I've heard it read on the Sunday before Christmas, but I like it best on Christmas Eve, when the lights have been turned down and all the children's eyes seem to be glowing with the magic of the winter holidays.

 

So, hey, I guess I do celebrate Christmas to a degree, because, although we celebrate the solstice as a family, we do enjoy the Christmas Eve service at our UU church. And this year my daughter is Mary in the children's pageant. Okay, so we're not Christian and my daughter is acting the part of the mother of Christ. If you're Christian, that probably sounds really wrong. If you're UU, you probably understand.

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