- Holidays and Celebrations
An Atheist on Christmas
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.
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?
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"
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.