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.
I've always celebrated christmas in the traditional British secular way. When Christian groups have their annual moan about us "losing the meaning of christmas" they're right;for most people it isn't a religious festival at all, but a general celebration and an opportunity to spend time with family and friends and, if you have kids, to bask in their joy.
We do have some of the trappings - tree, etc - but as we all know this has nothing to do with Christianity but older Pagan celebrations. I'm not saying I'm any more Pagan than I am Christian, but this reinforces how much christmas is a cultural artifact as much as - indeed, if not more than - a religious festival.
We do pretty much exactly as you describe, there is good food, family, presents, and much joy. I have no problem with Xmas as its origins predate Christianity, and it has been so secularized by the commercial aspect (which I have no problem with, I'm a consumer, I like stuff).
The only thing that annoys me is when the Christians start up with the wailing and gnashing of teeth about how people who disagree with them should not be seen or heard. Let's just all celebrate our own version and leave one another alone. I'm not offended by displays with religious content, if I don't like it I don't have to look at it, but I am offended if equal space is not granted to all who celebrate a holiday this time of year.
We're all in this 'living on planet earth' thing together, let's put up with each other, especially during the holidays. No reason why we can't, and yet so many times, we don't.
My family isn't particularly religious. My mom is agnostic at best in my estimation, though we've never actually discussed it. My siblings claim belief (one is gay, one is living with his ex-wife, and the other refuses to acknowledge my mother's existence because he's a douchebag) which really makes the holidays hilarious. That being said, I do not have children, but I do own a small daycare with my mother. I always decorate (last year my tree had a tropical theme...hat tip to Jimmy Buffett...this year I went more traditional). I make sure my daycare kids have presents under the tree even though my family doesn't and hasn't exchanged gifts in years for financial reasons. They exchange gifts within their own households, but we as a group, do not do so. To me, Christmas is for the kids anyway (and those of us perpetual children). I find it quite easy to celebrate Christmas without being all religious about it. Though this is really my first real Christmas as an atheist, we never really celebrated in a religious fashion as a family.
I don't have any children, but I have gotten my Mormon family to the point of viewing it as a time to help others out (donating items or time to charity, volunteering wherever possible, etc.) and the stepping stone between Autumn and Winter. They hardly even mention anything religious, which is good cause I decorate the house in as secular way as I possibly can. The day of, nothing special except seeing what others have gotten us, then going and spending time with other family as well.
So, to shorten that paragraph, no mentioned of invisible friends, we feel good and have a couple of dinners.
I always laugh when people say that we need to "put christ back in christmas." He wasn't even in there to begin with! They stuck christianity in a pagan holiday, and now are so arrogant as to think that the secular parts of christmas are being stuck into a religious holiday, and not the other way around. In fact, the only christian aspect of christmas is the story of Christ's birth, and using their own bible, he wouldn't have been born in the winter anyway.
That being said, I celebrate christmas (although sometimes I just say I'm celebrating the solstice, it's more fun that way), but to me it is a holiday of giving and spending time with family.
That's our plan. Our son will be 1 on Dec. 30 (so he doesn't really notice things yet), but we'll explain it as a holiday to celebrate family & enjoy each other.
In addition to the tree & snowmen, I also decorate with a Willow Tree figurine nativity scene. I grew up in a Catholic house hold, so the nativity was always part of the Christmas decor - I'll keep putting it up because it makes me think of family, and it's beautiful. My dad likes to say that means I'm not really atheist, but I point out that I also don't believe in the Santa Claus / easter bunny /ghost decor that I use for other holidays.
Christmas for me just tends to be a time where my sister, mum and I just spend some time together. It's just a convenient throwback for me, really. Yeah, the overt displays of religion piss me off, but at the end of the day, I just treat it as something to enjoy.
I don't really see the problem with celebrating it, i don't really see it as any different to all of the solstice stuff that alot of Atheists seem to be latching onto at the moment, just another culturally traditional holiday with some vague link to a modern day mythology.
I don't see why we should feel guilty about it, it's a fun time, and i guess one of the few positives of living in an (ostensibly) christian society.
A strange synthesis of Mithrianism, Babylonian mysteries and Germanic winter festivals. Which is totally apropos
and fitting in the setting of the steeple houses in which they meet. Steeples fashions after the obelisk, which according to the text they purportedly believe cause the house of israel to go into captivity. And Jerusalem is a veritable circus of obelisk inundated from the sea of Christian pagan falsehood. The very text describes Jerusalem as Sodom-Egypt. Indeed, a prophecy come true. Every Church building should be obliviated from the face of the earth