I'm an atheist who loves me some holidays

So I'm the kind of person who gets excited by things like yarn and ribbon and hot glue guns, embossing tools, ink and stamps and all of that. I craft. I'm crafty. Craftasaurus Rex. It kind of makes sense that I would really enjoy holidays - all kinds of holidays - because holidays are a great reason to get busy making things. I love Xmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, Fourth of July, all the big ones. I even like to celebrate lesser known holidays - Earth Day (though this one hardly counts as I was born on Earth Day), Guy Fawkes Day, Talk Like A Pirate Day, the list goes on and on. Crafting isn't the only reason I love holidays, it's just one reason why I love them so much.

I've been asked before why I celebrate holidays seeing as though I'm an atheist. I've been asked this by both religious and non religious people alike. The simple answer is that I celebrate holidays because of familial tradition. My parents were holiday people and I followed suit. I grew up really poor. Think of someone in America who is poor and make them about twice as destitute - that's about how poor I was. Holidays were a big deal growing up because the rest of the year we could hardly afford luxuries like gifts and candy. Holidays were a reason to let loose, to indulge. I never knew Christmas had to do with someone named Christ until I was old enough to be curious about the nativity scenes my mom collected. When I asked, my mom told me that some people who were religious thought Christmas was different than just a day everyone was supposed to love each other and be decent to one another. She said she was religious once but wasn't anymore, she just thought the nativity scenes were pretty.

I had trouble understanding the whole Easter thing until I was a teenager. I had assumed that the whole Jesus was a zombie thing was something Christians tried to hide, seeing as it was obviously a ridiculous aspect of their religion. Evidently not so. To me, Easter is about a bunny and eggs and chocolate and a good dinner. Again, it's a day where people just decide to be decent to one another because we all deserve that once in a while.

I know some atheists don't like holidays because of the religious overtones, but if you consider a lot of holidays in regard to their origins - as celebrations of the equinoxes and solstices - the religious implications of those holidays are reduced to a recent coat of paint applied to a well established foundation. You can paint a car to look like a cow, but that doesn't make the car a cow.

Personally, I don't care to even reduce the issue to that level. I like holidays. The holidays I celebrate are all celebrated in a secular way, regardless of the religious implications of the holiday. Christmas is about the mythology of Santa and the social importance of good will and Easter is about an egg obsessed bunny and exploding peeps in the microwave. I don't think atheists are any less likely to enjoy haolidays, I just think some people like holidays and some people don't. Being an atheist doesn't mean you have to dislike anything having to do with religion in any way. At least it doesn't mean that for me.

Views: 22

Comment by ladymoonage on February 8, 2010 at 10:23pm
yeah a friend of mine loves holidays for pretty much the same reason. mainly just for the family gathering, food &friends. she especially loves christmas because of the decorations & baking cookies. i don't celebrate holidays but i don't think you have to be religious to celebrate them. i'm sure alot of atheists have family that are still religious who celebrate holidays.
Comment by Mike Donohoe on February 8, 2010 at 10:47pm
That's really awesome that you don't let your feelings about religion dampen your connection to celebration and to other people! =) I am first and foremost an individual but I admit that I feel comfortable with earth based religions. I recall having this weird awakening a few years ago where I suddenly saw Christmas as this druid tree that is often topped with a pentacle. (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit and ho ho ho! lol!) Then there are elves and flying reindeer. What could be more Christian than that?! =)

I do like the idea that Santa Claus might just be a representation of a spirit of love and giving, the Easter (Estrogen) Bunny of spring and renewal and fertility, and so forth.
Comment by Lindsey on February 9, 2010 at 1:15am
I can picture myself not celebrating much once I finish college and move away from my family (there's absolutely no way I'm spending the rest of my life in Utah), but for the most part I do love celebrating with my family. It never seemed like a religious thing to me because I was never actually a believer, its just family tradition. My neighbors would always throw a huge party on the last day of Hannukah too, that was awesome.
Comment by Thaddeus Dombrowski on February 9, 2010 at 10:12am
I like holidays. But, I have mixed feelings about the holidays. This year was great because we hosted a big family reunion for Thanksgiving. Overall, though, I hate what Christmas has become.

I am not complaining about the religious overtones. I am complaining about the marketing. The day has been ruined by turning it into a vehicle to drive sales.

In our family, we have moved away from the gift giving thing unless the gift is something you make for another person. It allows us to make it through the holidays feeling like we haven't been wallowing in mud.

I don't mind the religious aspect of the holiday as long as the christians don't act as though Christmas is their holiday. Celebrate Christ all you want. Just realize that before Christ people celebrated for other reasons. Just realize that some people want to celebrate without bringing Jesus into it.

I even like the holiday for the religious aspects. My wife is Chinese and is unfamiliar with Christian motivations for the holidays. A few years ago she wanted to know more. Leading up to Christmas we discussed the holiday and Christianity quite a bit. On Christmas eve, I took her to midnight mass so she could experience a Catholic celebration of Christmas. I wanted her to experience maximal pomp and pageantry. We were not disappointed. We had a lot to talk about afterwards. I enjoyed that. But, we haven't gone back since then.

I like Christmas for remembering my Catholic roots. One thing I appreciate about my Catholic upbringing is that it made me feel connected through the institution in a historical context. Say what you will about the church. It has been around for a couple thousand years. That's nothing to sneeze at. I wonder what the world will look like in two thousand more years.

I also happen to like July fourth.
Comment by Lindsey on February 9, 2010 at 12:47pm
I remember we used to have big neigborhood fireworks parties on the fourth when I was younger, but we haven't been allowed to light fireworks in our area for years becasue its been too much of a fire-hazard. That took some of the fun out of the Fourth for me, but its still one of my favorite holidays.
Comment by Mike Donohoe on February 9, 2010 at 3:08pm
I so hear you, Thaddeus. Christmas reduced to a marketing gimmick is downright depressing, like it didn't hold enough depression potential already. I understand your appreciation for the ritual and history and pageantry of Catholicism, too. Mike.


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