Sunday, November 20, 2011

An Atheist's Holiday Rant

I am an Atheist, as many of you already know, but I celebrate Christmas.  I celebrate it because it has become a sacred tradition of family to me and I cherish my family above all else.  I do get irritated at the complete insensitivity that people feel they are entitled to at this time of the year.  I just don't get it.

Jesus isn't the original reason for this season - although for modern Christians it certainly is now.  Just for some general history of the holiday, though, read on: Jesus' birth has actually been estimated by Christian scholars to be anywhere between September to March.  December 25th was chosen as "Christ's Mass" in the 4th century when the Roman Catholics were trying to convert the Roman Pagans.  They used the Pagans popular celebrations incorporated with Mass to help transition them to Catholicism.  December 25th is the end of the Pagan celebration of Saturnalia.  If you think about it it really makes sense but that doesn't make it Christ's birthday anymore than it is mine.  To this day many of the Saturnalia customs are still upheld as Christmas customs.  For example, The Christmas Tree is a symbol of paganism and it's ties to nature.  Pagans brought trees in to their homes long to decorate them long before Christmas.  Gift giving also has ties to Saturnalia because the Roman Empire used to force the people to "gift" them during this holiday.

What I ask of you this holiday season is to remember that this time of year means different things to different people so while you are celebrating your traditions and your beliefs take time to consider those around you and that they probably don't believe/feel the same as you.  Be considerate when your coworker says "Happy Holidays" to you instead of "Merry Christmas."  Most people aren't doing it to be personally insulting but to hold to their own personal beliefs.  I am not asking that you sterilize your own celebrations/traditions to be more PC but that you consider the feelings of those around you.


Sierra said...

I was aware of the history that you stated in your post and it makes me smile. As a Christian who does celebrate Christmas I still find it special to remember the birth of Christ regardless of WHEN it actually took place. Historians believe he was actually born during the late spring or summer.

Christmas is a time of family and friends and traditions, but to me it is also important to take time to acknowledge the religious side to the holiday as well even if it isn't the ACTUAL date of the occurance. (That's why I always put up my nativity scene in the house and we read Luke 2 before opening presents.)

I know other people celebrate differently and that's fine with me. I also know that people do not celebrate at all. I still generally say Merry Christmas because it is part of American culture and a majority of people celebrate it in some form. If I know somebody's Jewish I wish them a Happy Hannukkah. The few friends I have who do not celebrate Christmas I just say Happy Holidays. I do try to be polite because I know not everybody believes as I do.

Megan Dub-Yuh said...

I agree with you that traditions, religious or otherwise, are important. It sounds like you are definitely not like the persons I was referring to in my post. Thank you for sharing.

Whitney said...

Thank you for sharing that! It's good to be reminded that the holidays mean different things to different people.