Hello all, I am new to this site, but certainly not new to my atheist beliefs. I enjoy reading all the discussions on this site and find it very refreshing to see others that feel the same way I do.
At any rate, I am curious to know if anyone celebrates christmas, but not necessarily as a christian holiday. To give insight into my question, I have 2 small boys, 1 almost 4 and the other almost 8 months. Every year since my oldest was born, we have put up a tree and decorated with snowmen, my wife's favorite, but it is only because I don't them to miss out on the giving aspect and see the joy in their faces. When prompted, I explain to my oldest that we are celebrating the spirit of giving and welcoming in the new year.
Those with children, do you celebrate it in this fashion? Are there other ways that people explain it to their children? I am curious to know. Thanks in advance and I look forward to the discussion.
Awesome, I'm glad to hear this. I consider myself a strong Atheist (very proud and outspoken), but I also don't want to deprive my children of their childhood. Religious or not, children love christmas because of the toys :). Thank you for making me feel less guilty about "sorta" celebrating a religious holiday. And yes, christianity did still that as well as other holidays from the pagans.
First off, welcome to Think Atheist! Along the lines of your post, you might be interested in checking the Parenting Hellions group.
More directly on topic, I think that Christmas is barely hanging on as a religious holiday, its become more and more commercialized and somewhat secular. Besides its origins are not even Christian, they just stole it. That doesn't mean that Christians aren't fighting to make it more religious, but in general I think religion's hold on the holiday is slipping.
My wife and I don't have kids (yet), but I think some kind of gift giving with the kids prevents them from feeling left out. Growing up I recall knowing one Jewish kid and two Jehovah's Witness kids at school, all who hated the Christmas holidays because they felt left out. I don't know if they ever expressed it at home, but I remember hearing about it at school. So I think making sure your kids don't feel like the odd-one-out is important.
Personally I like your idea of "celebrating the spirit of giving and welcoming in the new year." Also using icons that are not religiously related should help imply that it is not a religious holiday.
Well, I don't have kids, but I do kind of celebrate Christmas, as a time to spend with family and friends. My family is mostly religious, so there are religious ceremonies and traditions being observed, I just don't involve myself with them for the most part. (The one exception being the Christmas Eve celebration/play at my aunt's church. The entire family goes there, and I go along to be social and to watch my younger cousins perform. And to please Grandma.)
As others have said, a celebration at or near the winter solstice is a tradition that long predates Christianity's assimilation of the holiday, and I enjoy it for what it means to me, which is spending time with family.
The Christmas push is just as bad over here, with the Christmas items and sales beginning in October, or in the rare cases, September. At least they tend not to start playing nonstop Christmas carols on the loudspeakers until November.
Japan does celebrate Christmas, kinda. Nowhere near the social push that it is over here, though.
Now, for Thanksgiving...mmm, now there's a feast. :) Thanksgiving dinner always trumps Christmas dinner, at least in my experience.
You don't need to believe in the Jesus stuff to enjoy Christmas any more than you have to believe in Santa. It's the Christians who should be more concerned about celebrating it with all the pagan rituals in it.
We celebrate Christmas because of the family closeness and the fact that we focus on the giving aspect. Most of the symbols that we incorporate are more from the pagan side with trees and such which we feel shows the the earthiness of the holiday.