Why do atheists celebrate xmas?

I just had a guy ask if atheists celebrate xmas on twitter.. I replied that I do indeed celebrate the holidays in the context of having the opportunity to have time off work, spend time with family, give/receive gifts, eat and drink loads and generally have a nice time.. he was pretty annoyed by my response and stated that this was hypocrisy.. he also had an issue with the fact I would receive gifts from friends/family as this time of year was to celebrate Jesus birthday only.... for me to inform him I would be partaking in the holiday season, yet stating in no way religious, I was dismissed as having double standards.

Do you celebrate xmas, this holiday period? what are your thoughts? Is it hypocritical to receive gifts and partake in family dinners? Personally I take full advantage of a lovely time of year.. CHRIST does not come into it!

  • kris feenstra

    Some people take this stuff too seriously. You know, the Arms of Canada has a unicorn in the design. Do I believe in unicorns? No. Am I going to fight against the Royal Coat of Arms just because I don't believe? No. Unicorns (conceptually) are rad, the tradition is almost a century old, and ultimately, it doesn't have a tangible negative impact. I don't need to believe the mythology to grasp its symbolic and cultural value.

    Christmas is kind of the same for me. It is part of my history, even including the aspects of the traditions cobbled together from various religions. I enjoy those traditions -- some of them, connect me to the vestiges of my familial heritage --, and can celebrate them without having to actually believe in the supporting mythology. It's not much different from reading a fantasy novel imo; I can indulge in the story and let my imagination slip into that realm without ever, for a second, deluding myself into thinking it is real.
  • david garcia

    Ha! A lot of people ask this .. but to me I don’t see anything wrong with Christmas . it can bring a family together for one.. but as a kid I think I would have felt pretty left out if everyone in school were getting cool presents and I didn’t .. that would suck.. second.. it stimulates the economy .. even if you just are stuck at work on a secret Santa ..you have to buy a present you wouldn’t have otherwise you spend money…lots of people spend a lot of money   during the holidays and it just great for the economy .. I don’t  have an issue ,if I ever have kids or even my nieces and nephews , I don’t have an issue buying them presents and celebrating Xmas.. just as long as they realize that when they get older that   Santa is not  real ….(duh right!) no but also realize that neither is baby Jesus ..

  • John Phillips

    I get together with friends and family and fortunately they're all casual-enough christians that nobody prays before we eat. I am considering celebrating in a new way, by hosting my own blasphemous "piss-mas" party. There will be cake, and everyone will be given a bible that they can piss on if they wish before tossing into a bonfire. 

  • emma bailie

    Personally I love xmas, its a fab time of year.. whats not to love about being off and get stuffed full of food and drink and getting/receiving presents while spending quality time with family.. I do like the idea of a blasphemous piss-mas party! I reckon that could go viral John.. haha :)

    I think its Xtians who have the double standards, judging others while they pretend to have morals though won't stand for homophobia and kill in the name of God! God is not great!

     

  • Tiffany Willoughby

    first of all, christians stole christmas from the pagans. the pagans started it not the christians. if christians have the right to steal and twist holidays and stuff. so do we. they celebrate christmas. christmas wasnt about jesus to begin with. christians made it about him, as they have everything else in life.

  • Emperor Milos

    I celebrate the holiday.

    Like it has been mentioned already, the holiday comes from the pagans, and the gift giving from the Roman holiday Saturnalia. So, nothing hypocritical there. Just because we don't have imaginary friends, doesn't mean we cant spend a day off with our real ones.

  • Dale Headley

    I don't celebrate Christmas.  No tree, no lights, no big dinner, nothing.  Even the two or three Xmas cards I send out say, "Happy Holidays."  I even avoid TV movies on the "Lifetime" and "Hallmark" channels. Of course, I must admit that it's mostly because they all end the same way: with snow starting to fall in the final scene.  Where I live, that's what you call "carrying coals to Newcastle." It's all part of the War on Christmas I conduct in order to get Bill O"Reilly and Sean Hannity pissed off.

       That being said, I do exchange gifts with my brother and his family.  He and I have shared Xmas Eves EVERY year since 1938.; but there is no hint of it being  religious observance of any kind.  

  • Cody Kirchner

        Yes, we steal the one day a year they go to church, act like they actually like their drunk brother who just got out of jail, put up with his fat girlfriend with the tramp stamp and her six kids from different fathers. The one day they eat a lot of food, pretend they're actually good people and that they genuinely love their families, and the one day they even think about doing something that might come close to being able to see the definition of christian if it stood on its toes and used a spyglass. Damn us atheists for being genuinely good people who just want to take time out to be with our families. Guys, we're such assholes, how do we live with ourselves? I think I'll go convert, right now, just so I can be a hippocritical slave who doesn't have the responsibility of using their own mind, or making up their own holidays. Whose with me?

  • Maya Komrik

    I don't. But my school lets out during that time. I'm not going to hang out in the parking lot during the Christmas break. I'd rather be a hypocrite. :-)

  • Heather Spoonheim

    I do not celebrate Christmas in any way shape or form and actually detest the whole affair - but not because I'm an Atheist.  Aside from being an Atheist, I'm a minimalist, partially because I have ecological concerns but also because I feel that 'simple living' is better.  Anyway, just some personal values that I have that really do not stem from whether or not I believe in invisible sky-fairies.

    This year I will be violating my own principles, though, at least in principle.  I am taking some home-made wine to work to give to my colleagues and they will perceive this as Christmas gifting, to be sure.  I am doing this mostly to encourage the servers to be more diligent in sourcing me good bottles for my wine making hobby (we work in a 'bring your own wine' restaurant), however, and not in celebration of Gluttonfest, as I've come to call it.  The bottles are recycled and the wine is a home craft prepared from a sustainable product so I still feel I am keeping to my minimalist values. :D

  • Strega

    Sure I celebrate Christmas.  My Christmas tree with its pretty lights is exactly like the ones that were in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.  I think its far more bizarre that Christians celebrate Easter, calling Crucifixion Day "Good Friday", and having some giant Easter bunny hiding chocolate eggs makes perfect sense for a memorial service.   I don't go to work on Sundays either, although I'm not usually knackered from creating a world.

  • kris feenstra

    Aside from being an Atheist, I'm a minimalist, partially because I have ecological concerns but also because I feel that 'simple living' is better.

    The two things aren't really incompatible. The idea that Christmas has to be some blown out food orgy coupled with a competitive, exorbitant giftstravaganza largely seems to be the product of consumerist mentalities. I mean, if you're not into Christmas, it's not like you're not really missing out on all that much, but I never understood why people buy into the notion that holidays should be so complicated and crazy.

  • kris feenstra

     I don't go to work on Sundays either, although I'm not usually knackered from creating a world.

    You should give it a shot some time. I already have more confidence in you than the last guy who tried his hand at it.

  • Sagacious Hawk

    Since this is the first Christian holiday I will be spending as openly an atheist, I've realized that I've lost most of the connection to the holiday. I still love Christmas trees, but more for the fact that they represent winter to me than the birth of some nobody who may or may not have been born 2,012 years ago (which they really don't represent at all). I was never big on the giving and receiving of gifts, and rather looked forward to spending time with family especially since I don't get to see them anymore. I really am not seeing it as Christmas time anymore, but as more of a Winter Week. I think we should make a holiday week for every season!

    Personally, my best friend's birthday is on the 25th of December and when it comes down to it, that's the birthday that's always mattered most to me on that day.

  • Heather Spoonheim

    @Kris

         I do agree - the holiday season need not be a complicated blow-out...but it typically is so I avoid it.

       My grandfather once told me that Christmas dinner was really special in his childhood because it was about the only meal where the entire family could count on eating meat, potato, bread, vegetable and also getting some sort of dessert.  After saying that he reflected that we seemed to have come to a point where we ate Christmas dinner every single day.  I suggested that perhaps a day of fasting during the holidays would make more sense, to remind us just how much we really have.

         What I hate most about the 'holiday season' is the ridiculous traffic that makes life less pleasurable for me, even using public transit.  Then after the holidays I get irritated with all the people who whine that they can't do anything because their cards are all max'ed out.  It really is a Gluttonfest these days.

  • Reg The Fronkey Farmer

    What really bugs me is that xmas starts in the middle of September. I can hardly get through the fruit and veg store to buy some bananas (opposable thumbs rock) without hearing jingles f**king bells even on Halloween night. It is so blatantly commercial that I am amazed that the Theists are not complaining more than us. Then the virtuous talk about making it special for the children. WTF is that. Make them feel special all year long instead rather than making them compete in a festival of commercial greed bribing them to “be good or Santa won’t come”. It gets even worse for those kids that Santa seems to have no time for.

    Oh Reg, you are such a killjoy, we do celebrate the real “birthday boy” too you know.

    Yeah right, before or after you stuff your faces and get drunk? Did he not consider drunkenness and gluttony and greed to be sinful? I suppose you will all soon be celebrating him dying in a few months’ time so those sins can be forgiven? Any chance I won’t see chocolate eggs in January? Nope, didn’t think so.

    Celebrate xmas? C-e-l-e-b-r-a-t-e ? No, sorry I don’t know what ye faithful are talking about.

  • Reg The Fronkey Farmer

  • kris feenstra

    @Heather

    On my maternal grandmother's side, they lost everything in the war, including their homeland. We still have the handmade ornaments they crafted out of fairly simple items during that time. Much like your grandfather's recollection, the perks of Christmas represented a welcome exception in the year. I find it strange how things that at one time had some sense of occasion and reward have become harsh obligations for so many.

    All the people freaking out on Black Friday and Boxing Day have just become incentive for me to wind down and chill the fuck out for a while. While I don't think it will ever be the way it was when I was a kid, lately I've been enjoying the season more and more. The Christmas extremists are a stark reminder of how I don't want to live. It's a bit like how watching a violent thunderstorm from inside can make you substantially more grateful for having shelter. Then again, I'm situated where I can avoid the mobs almost entirely. 

  • Strega

    It's a bit like how watching a violent thunderstorm from inside can make you substantially more grateful for having shelter.

    That is so true, Kris - what a nice way to put it.

  • RobertPiano

    I must stop this *whole* thing! Why, for fifty-three years I've put up with it now. I must stop Christmas from coming... but how?

  • James

    Nothing hypocritical about celebrating Christmas in a secular manner. If anything, they are the ones with an issue since Christmas is a conglomeration of stolen pagan traditions. The trees, wreaths, the gift giving, the feast, and even the date are all stolen from pagan and Roman holidays (and the Winter Solstice). And if he has a problem with celebrating that time of year under the banner of Christmas, then surely he doesn't recognize Thursday since it is named for Thor's day... Or any of the days of the week, and most months for that matter.

  • Heather Spoonheim

    When I milked the interwebz from my home office, I used to pride myself on not spending more than 6 to 8 hours in public in the month of December (cross country skiing didn't count as 'public').  Now that I work hospitality, I can't believe what assholes people turn into for the 'holiday season'.  I've already had 2 people get very gruff with me about turning down their reservations (both for over 20 people) on Christmas day because we'll be closed.  Somehow I'M the scroodge for working for a company that actually gives me Christmas day off.

    I should also mention that 'very gruff' is much more serious in French than in English.  It's really the equivalent of barking obscenities, especially when phoning for reservations.

  • Skye Draper

    My family doesn't celebrate Christmas, we have a New Year Gift Exchange.

  • Ron V

    I don't celebrate Christmas.  I have a festivus pole, and "celebrate" winter.

  • Matt Coulthurst

    This video says it all for me.

    http://youtu.be/fCNvZqpa-7Q

  • Ed

    Much to the chagrin of my wife I prefer to not participate in the perpetuation of myths. It's also a relief to not feel obligated to find that perfect obligatory gift. The winter solstice is a much more valid opportunity for wine and merriment.

  • Stutz

    I don't feel like Christmas was ever really about Jesus, even for religious people. Seriously, a lot of us grew up as believers: beyond maybe being dragged to a worship service, how many of you actually discussed or focused on the religious aspect of the holidays in any meaningful way? Didn't we all pretty much just do the traditional Christmas thing, with the family, the food, the tree, and the presents?

    There's nothing hypocritical about celebrating the holiday as a non-believer. For me, at least, it's exactly the same as it always was.

  • Charles Corey Stewart

    This is nonsense, pagans celebrated the winter season and christians moved the supposed birth of Yeshua to coincide to try to take control of it, and most people still think that. The did the same with Easter. As an Atheist we celebrate the four seasons, or at least I do, in our own way. I just call it celebrating the solstice. The dates, themes are seriously taken from astrological stories and the sun/stars.
  • archaeopteryx

    This is the best answer I can give you --

  • Gallup's Mirror

    Tell the nutbag that Christmas is a Christian bastardization of traditional winter solstice festivals like Yule or Sol Invictus. The celebrants were acknowledging that the sun stops getting lower in the sky each day, and that daylight, warmth, and life conquer night, cold, and death. To them it was the birthday of the sun itself and the new year that followed.

    The Christ Mass is held on December 25 because the Winter Solstice and the accompanying festivals happen on December 21 or 22.

    You eat "Christmas" ham because Yule involved sacrificing a wild boar.

    You use "Christmas" holly, fir trees, and mistletoe because pagans observed they stay green all winter (evergreens) and were symbols of fertility and life.

    You have the "12 Days of Christmas" because the Yule was 12 days long (the Yuletide). 

    You have a cozy "Christmas" fire because pagans burned Yule logs: fire festivals that were symbols of the sun's long-lasting fire.

    You sing "Christmas Carols" because of pagan Yulesinging rituals for health and fertility.

    Before he became Santa Claus (Father Christmas) on a sleigh with 8 reindeer who gave out plastic gift cards, he was the god Odin who led a Yule hunt through the night sky on an 8-legged horse named Sleipnir and gave gifts of food.

    If this guy participates in any of these things then he's a hypocrite of staggering proportions for claiming to be a Christian while engaging in pagan fertility rituals and sun worship.

    These are the traditions I'm acknowledging at Christmas: the pending end of winter, the start of a new year, and my relationships with family and friends. I'm proud to say his nutbag Christian religion has nothing to do with that, outside of his delusions.

  • RobertPiano

    Thanks GM. I have heard about this before but in bits and pieces
  • archaeopteryx

    @G.M. - RE: "You sing "Christmas Carols" because of pagan Yulesinging rituals for health and fertility."

    True, but at the same time, naked, drunken Romans went door to door singing to anyone who would listen, during Saturnalia, also held at that time of year.

    I like to get an early start - I do myh naked drunken caroling on Halloween, when it's not so cold. I have an entire wall in my house, I've papered with restraining orders!

    I remember Sleipnir - he almost picked up the Triple Crown, but he tripped over his own feet! I lost a bundle on that nag --

  • emma bailie

    Cody Kirchner, that made me laugh very hard!  However, I agree with you.. Its very much a one day to church affair for many of the hyprocritcal xtians out there pointing fingers at others... as they say.. don't throw stones at glass houses :)

  • emma bailie

    Thanks for that explanation GM! I'll be sure to inform him as I didn't know as much detail as you've now explained.. I find them all to be hypocrites where xmas is concerned. Xmas to me was always about family time and having lots of food and drink, never anything to do with jesus, his so called birthday.. my mum made me go to church as a kid every xmas.. child abuse :) until I became a teenager and more outspoken about my non belief.. then I was free from the bollocks the minister preached! I'm sick of xtians hav

  • emma bailie

    I'm sick of xtians having a go when it suits them!!

  • James Cox

    The christians DO NOT OWN XMAS!

    The christians DO NOT OWN AMERICA!

    The christians DO NOT OWN HONESTY!

    The christians DO NOT OWN HISTORY!

    Was that too loud?

  • kris feenstra

    "The christians DO NOT OWN..."

    This represents a huge chunk of my grievance with Christianity. I can accept that our views differ, and the way we want to live our may lives differ as well. I can accept that they may or may not approve of my values and that they are free to argue their positions publicly, privately and politically to the extent that democracy allows. The thing that gets my hackles up is the idea that they own words, concepts, ideas or traditions as one might own copyright or trademark.

  • Rocky Oliver (LotusGeek)

    @Cody - the start of your post ("...the one day a year they go to church...") reminded me of a great term for those types of churchgoers. I actually learned this from my UU minister (yes, I'm an out-of-the-closet atheist who is also a Unitarian Universalist). He called those type of congregants "CEO members", with CEO standing for Christmas (and) Easter Only.

    As for me and my family, we definitely celebrate the Winter Holidays (and yes, we often refer to it as "Christmas", since it is such a part of our lexicon). We all tend to say "Happy Holidays" to others rather than Merry Xmas, and the cards we send out all say something to the affect of Happy Holidays - no religious connotation whatsoever. My kids were raised to understand the respective histories of the holidays around this time of year (all of the big ones, not just Xmas) - the ones we've mainly covered are Xmas (both protestant and Catholic versions), Hannukah, and Kwanzaa. It was much easier for us to cover these because of our UU fellowship - we cover these during RE (Religious Education, or what is commonly referred to as "Sunday School"). They are taught the history, customs, meanings, etc. of the holidays.

    Overall, we mainly focus on the fact that we "celebrate" this time of year to give to others ("charity"), reconnect with loved ones, and spend quality time with those we love. They fully understand that, outside of the name, there's really nothing particularly "religious" about Xmas at all unless you make the effort to infuse it into your celebrations.

    --Rocky

  • Umbra

    Christmas is at its root a set time where people share with each other. Symbolism is very important to us all and we like to and need to be reminded of things past. For Christians it is the birth of Jesus, for pagans it was winter solstice. Btw. we have the pagans to thank for the pine tree tradition.

    So, even atheists celebrate and because everyone is celebrating around the same time we may as well join in. Any excuse to party, dude. Albeit that you will not see a crib under my tree.

  • emma bailie

    The CHRISTIANS do not own...... IRELAND! They do try however but atheism is on the rise and slowly but surely, we will beat their outdated values and thinking as people are starting to wake up and realise there's more to life than pie in the sky!

  • emma bailie

    Here here @Kris however values?? Like being a decent person? Morals? I learnt all of those from my mother, not from some dissected and ongoing badly interpreted fable.. Xtians tend to think that they received these morals from their badly interpreted teachings from godly people.. they are blind! Deaf! and dare I say stupid!

  • matt.clerke

    I still maintain late december is a celebration of the solstice. Christmas is so commercialised it is really just a secular holiday in the west anyway.

  • James Cox

    On our family Thanksgiving, this last Sunday, our son, with a free coupon, gave us an xmas tree!

    My wife and I live on 30 acres of meadow and timber, that the family has placed under a conservation easement/protected habitat.

    For us, generally, putting a dead tree in our living room, to 'celebrate' life seems to be very odd, and in conflict with the family's long term values. We would never dream of cutting down a tree from the property, just to mount it in the house like a dead deer trophy, then injury to insult put lights and decorations on it. It helps to have a few memorial trees on the property for dead family and friends, to keep somethings in perspective, some of which are +30 ft tall.

    I know our son was just being nice, but the poor tree still sits on our front porch, in the rain and cold, having been cut off at the roots, with hardly much future except to be reduced to fire wood in a few weeks. I looked around and found that we don't have a tree stand, but a few lights.

    Today my wife asked about the tree. I quess I'll make a stand, mount it in the living room like 'normal' folks, and introduce our puppies and cats to it, while reading the riot act! I know our youngest puppy 'Cricket' will add 'tree' to her list of prime chewing targets, along with lights, tinzel, and electrical cord. I do hope another memorial tree is not in the offing.....;p( 

  • Tiffany Willoughby

    haha i read your comment about the pissmas party john. id join you! 

    i dont even celebrate christmas anymore really.

  • Profound_Raincloud

    My favorite reasoning for celebrating Christmas!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QSOso1i...

  • James Cox

    I mentioned some of this history during my stint with the Unitarians. They rounded told me to be quiet! 

    Oh well!

  • archaeopteryx

    EXCELLENT video, PR, but rather than offering a link, why not share it with everyone?

  • emma bailie

    That video is amazing, thanks so much for sharing. I'm very excited now to share on FB and Twitter to all my non christian friends and to educate my christian friends! Awesome.. :)