I'm just curious, as an theist parent, do you celebrate Christmas? And, if so, what do you tell your kids about Christmas?
I've always told my kids (in short summary) the religious tradition of Christmas, but that we celebrate it because of tradition, not religion.
Glad I could help, Lesa --
Emily you know that the tree decoration, gift giving, singing, the yule log and even feasting all has Pagan roots right? It's the celebration of the last shortest day of the year and on that certain day in December ( in the Northern Hemisphere) the days start getting longer. This is an actual event nothing mythical about it.... This is what I celebrate, the Winter Solstice, I also throw in a bit of family tradition in , like baking cookies, but trust me I keep all the religous dogma away from my life. There is nothing religous in my house, my holiday cards will always picture a winter theme and my Christmas tree oh yes I have a tree that has lights and winter related decorations. It's all about our ancesters (the pagans) and nature. Tell your kids about the season, keep track on a clock on how the days start getting longer. Emily there are books on the subject of the Winter Solstice that you might want to read to your childern. Now back to the question, what do you tell your kids about Christmas? That's easy... just tell them the truth. :)
You nailed it: tradition, not religion. After all, the pagans began the solstice celebrations and the date and idea was hijacked by religion. I did exactly the same as you, and Christmas is now about food, family time together, decorations and lights, more food, time off, fun activities like ice skating, sledding. I have always loved that time of year because of all those things, and nothing more.
I've posted this before, but it looks like it's time to trot it out again, but that's OK, 'cause it cracks me up everytime I watch it!
I like to call it a celebration of giving... many traditions / holidays come from different backgrounds.. some that we don't even know the origin before. No need to remove ourselves from a celebration just because we no longer believe in what started the tradition.
Yes we do, because of tradition. We told our kids "what it means" to other people, but we're not passing up a fun holiday just because some associate it with something we don't believe in. Same with Easter, we're not going to let religion stop us from enjoying the Easter Bunny and fun stuff like that. When I was a kid, Jesus wasn't in my Easter basket, chocolate was.
It's just fun traditions we don't take seriously at all. We're like that with all the fun holidays. Enjoying.
I teach my kids the history of Christmas every single year, and we celebrate it like you: tradition rather than a religious celebration. We celebrate family, love, and togetherness in general.
I didn't grow up in a religious family, per se. I do remember, once, being chided for titling my list to santa as 'xmas' list.. but i think thats just residual effects of a thorough brain washing that my father received when he was young. That strange instance notwithstanding, we enjoyed a family christmas with little or no 'god' presence. Santa was the reason for the season.. and the beautiful understanding that, no matter the faith or the commercialism involved, people were just.. a little nicer to their fellow man at christmas time.. and that there was (and is) and genuinely tangible sense of peace on earth at this time of year.. santa and rudolph were given pretzels and old milwaulkee.. tradition is tradition.. despite the origins.. i love christmas.. and i always will..
Christmas, in our house, is called "Yule", and it's a "day for all our family to show that we love each other".
Since my son is four, it works. I've asked him "Where do your presents come from?" just to test the waters. He says, "Uhm.... that... Christmas guy?" and I tell him Santa's just a fun story people like to tell each other. Damned Dora the Explorer feeding my kid folklore like it's the truth.
RE: "Damned Dora the Explorer feeding my kid folklore like it's the truth."
I know what you mean, I've got a whole Biblefull of that stuff --
I'd make my kids watch Dora + Commentary:
In the UK we don't have an equivalent of Thanksgiving, so we tend to utilize Christmas for the purpose of bringing family together - and our traditional 'feast' is the turkey. We really aren't a religious people - in fact if someone announces they ARE Christian, we tend to think of it as their little club that they like to talk about that makes them feel special.
Same with any religion really. Terrorism isn't restricted to Muslims either - most of us lived through the "Irish troubles" where the IRA did a lot of bombing, so it's not really a religious issue for most of us. Judaism is primarily like Vegetarianism - a dietary issue. Its only impact on us is when we are all eating together and we have to remember not to wrap anything in bacon, and that they can't have a cheeseburger.
I am learning so much about the oppressive side of religion from this site. In the UK, that just doesn't seem to be an issue in the general scheme of things. I feel a huge sympathy for those Atheists who have had to 'break free' from their upbringings. I am a second generation atheist, and my niece and nephew are third generation. It gets easier when you start with agnosticism and then choose for yourself how much you want to be comforted by believing in a conceptual entity. I'm pretty much OK with just being glad to be alive.