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An Atheist on Christmas

Updated on December 2, 2017
Kylyssa profile image

Kylyssa is an American atheist with high-functioning autism trying to navigate a mostly religious world with no well-beaten path to follow

Atheism at Christmas

I'm an atheist and I have nothing against Christmas as a religious holiday. Feel free to wish me a Merry Christmas and I'll probably return the sentiment. Many folks think there's a war on Christmas but if there is, I'm certainly not a part of it! If you'd like to know how I, as an American atheist, feel about Christmas, read on.

Image constructed using various public domain clip art and images created for the Out Campaign.

Look, it's silver and gold!
Look, it's silver and gold! | Source

My Objections to Consumerist Christmas

I approve of the more traditional Christmas; people visiting family, even feasting and yes, celebrating their religion. But Christmas as generally practiced in America is a bit sickening to me.

My few objections to Christmas as a holiday are probably similar to those many Christians have; mostly that it has become a knock-down, drag-out orgy of uncontrolled consumerism. The average American family spends hundreds of dollars for Christmas, often on made in China junk that ends up in landfills sooner rather than later.

People are made to feel guilty if they don't spend as much as others on Christmas gifts and the advertisements directed at children seem vastly inappropriate to me at times. I object to the consumerization of Christmas, actually I object to the consumerization of Christianity in general.

Is It OK to Be Inclusive in Your Greetings?

Is it OK for people and businesses to be more inclusive (of Jews, African Americans, Pagans, and other non-Christians) and say "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" instead of "Merry Christmas" or is that to be considered persecution of Christians? Some people believe that the suggestion that employees greet customers with "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" starting around Thanksgiving is anti-Christian and anti-Christmas.

Personally, I prefer "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" because they are more inclusive (and it seems weird to ask a person's religion before greeting him or her), I can start using them at Thanksgiving and they cover New Year as well. After all, Pagans and Jews had their December holidays even before Christ was born!

What do you think, is being inclusive of Jews, African Americans, Pagans, and others with holidays at the same time a persecution of Christians?

Is it OK to say "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" instead of "Merry Christmas" as a greeting?

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays, or Season's Greetings - Which Do You Use?

Which of the following greetings do you prefer to use during the December holidays?

See results

Is Christmas Just for Christians?

Given the Pagan origins of most of the things people do to celebrate Christmas and the secular, consumerist way in which most people now celebrate Christmas, do you think that the celebration of Christmas should be reserved for Christians alone?

Is Christmas just for Christians or can anyone celebrate it?

A Very Atheist Christmas - 666 Words on How Atheists Can Celebrate the Winter Holidays; a Satire - A Satire Directed at the Perceived "Atheist War on Christmas"

image constructed by Kylyssa Shay from clip art released to the public domain plus images created for use by the Out Campaign
image constructed by Kylyssa Shay from clip art released to the public domain plus images created for use by the Out Campaign

Just as Christians have adopted many pagan traditions of the winter festivals such as decorating trees, giving gifts, feasting, and singing door-to-door some atheists also choose to adopt those pagan traditions and celebrate Christmas, much like many Christians do.

Since many Christians are upset when Atheists celebrate Christmas (or use American currency with "In God We Trust" on it) I propose that Atheists create their own version of the Christmas celebration. Christian Christmas uses such icons as reindeer, mistletoe, Santa Claus, snowmen and pine trees. The traditional Christian Christmas also lays specific claim to December 25th as the day Santa comes down the chimney. Since these are all respected religious tenets of Christianity I propose that we, as atheists, should avoid co-opting them for our own Christmas celebrations.

Few would deny that the most commonly celebrated American Christmas includes giving gifts, reconnecting with family, expressing brotherly love to all mankind and putting up decorations to offset the mid-winter gloom. As none of these things are the exclusive privilege of the Christian church it looks like we Atheists are allowed to participate in activities of that sort.

Oh, dear, I've forgotten one more thing - Christmas contains the word 'Christ' which I do believe Christians own the copyright to. They also lay claim to the word 'mass' as well. Since almost no one pronounces the 't' at all anyway and few say the word with an 'a' sound at the end, I suggest we then spell the word as it sounds, leaving out the Christian copyrighted words.

Now, on to how to celebrate a very Atheist Crissmiss!

Our first priority should be to choose a day of note. I would suggest choosing the winter solstice. After all, seasons are caused by the axial tilt of the earth, including the Crissmiss season. Now, this gets a bit tricky. The winter solstice lands on different days in different

years, between December 20 and December 23 in the Northern hemisphere and between June 20 and June 23 in the Southern hemisphere. Don't despair, it just means Atheists get two Crissmisses! We can use winter solstice as it doesn't land on the 25th of December in either hemisphere.

In celebration of this event, we can put up lovely pictures of earth which depict its axial tilt. Other decorations which may be meaningful to Atheists might include representations of the Darwin fish or (for you trail blazers out there) even displays of the Flying Spaghetti Monster done up in sparkly lights. Traditional Christian fertility displays such as mistletoe kissing balls should be avoided. Atheists may use a candy dish full of condoms or simply a cozy loveseat with a warm winter throw atop it as their own invitation to lustful displays.

For traditionalist Atheists I would suggest a sumptuous platter of spaghetti with plenty of meatballs as the centerpiece for their Crissmiss feast. Exclusively Christian foods such as turkey, ham, and sweet potatoes should be avoided. Green bean casserole made with French's onions, however, is completely acceptable, as we all know the French are a bunch of godless heathens.

Children should be encouraged to make Atheist Crissmiss cookies. Since the Flying Spaghetti Monster is far too ornate for most children to carve from dough, children can be encouraged to make His meatballs instead. Coincidentally, the same shape can be used to represent the tilted earth. Other lovely Atheist Crissmiss cookie shapes could include pink triangles, blue donkeys, and rainbow flags which represent other groups many on the Christian Right consider godless. Babies are also great, as Atheists are known to enjoy eating babies.

When it comes to giving gifts, Atheist Crissmiss gifts should either be handmade or purchased with a credit card or check so as to avoid offending Christians by spending their money with ‘In God We Trust’ on it. Charity donations should also be made via check or credit card.

In short, Atheists can also celebrate the diluted pagan tradition many call ‘Christmas’ without disrespecting the religious traditions of others.

The Atheist's Guide to Christmas

Written by the cream of the atheist crop of writers, this book presents a practical and funny guide to surviving the winter holidays with grace and humor. You can feel good about your purchase because all royalties go to a marvelous HIV and sexual health charity, the Terrence Higgins Trust.

Leave Your Season's Greetings Here, Please!

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    • TheGutterMonkey profile image

      The Gutter Monkey 

      9 years ago

      @anonymous: How do you chose which god, precisely, you're placing your bets on? Most gods of various religions say it's a sin to worship "false gods" yet to an atheist they're all false gods -- one has no more importance than another.So the whole Pascals Wager thing is bologna because you can't believe in god to play it safe; because if you're doing that then you're believing what many think to be a false god; which according to most religions is just as bad as believing in no god at all (and some think it's even worse!).It makes no difference either way though because, as Kylyssa mentioned, atheists don't see "god" as a serious thing to fear. Nor do they see a soul as a realistic thing that they're in danger of losing. You telling an atheist to "Think about what if god IS real! Then what?!" is like someone saying to you, "What if the tiny unicorn that decides all of mankind's fate is real? What are you going to do then? You better believe in him just in case!"If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: Pascal can stick his wager up his holy anus.Happy holidays.

    • Kylyssa profile imageAUTHOR

      Kylyssa Shay 

      9 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      @anonymous: Your wager presupposes that atheists think God is real. People who think God is real are already theists or deists of some kind. People who think God is real are not atheists. If something occurred to make me think God were real, I would, in that instant, not be an atheist. And don't you think that if God were real, He could tell if someone were only pretending to believe? Because that is what an atheist would be doing if she took Pascal's Wager.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      According to Pascal, there are two propositions: God exists, and God does not exist. Pascal proposed that before placing your bet, you should consider the four possibilities:1. If you choose to believe in God, and if God exists, you go to heaven: your gain is infinite.2. If you choose to believe in God, and if God doesn't exist, your loss is finite and therefore negligible.3. If you choose not to believe in God, and if God doesn't exist, your gain is finite and therefore negligible.4. If you choose not to believe in God, and if God exists, you will go to hell: your loss is infinite.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Best wishes and have a happy day 'everyday'. :)

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      10 years ago from Canada

      I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. Best wishes in the New Year.

    • MsSnow4 profile image

      Carol Goss 

      10 years ago

      Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas :)

    • profile image

      daoine lm 

      10 years ago

      We celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another. Plus, just because we can, we raise a glass on the Bacchanalia, i.e., 25 December: the official recorded date of the birth of Bacchus/Dionysus. He had the date first, and the trick of turning water into wine.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      10 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Happy Flying Spaghetti Monster Day!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      10 years ago from UK

      Well I was looking forward to Christmas... but I don't think I can resist Crismiss with the Flying Spaghetti Monster in sparkly lights. How about I just wish you an early Season's Greetings? :)


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