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Some atheists debate whether they should celebrate Christmas in any fashion or not. Some celebrate Christmas because they aren't out as atheists. Some want to avoid rocking the boat among religious family members. Some do something during Christmas because they always have and don't want to change - or simply enjoy the holiday. Some atheists argue that Christmas should be replaced by a more rational holiday, and still others argue that all such holidays should be ignored by atheists. Is there a case to be made for this?

Read Article: Should Atheists Ignore Christmas or Celebrate It?

Comments
November 20, 2006 at 5:14 pm
(1) Triphesas says:

I thik you mean “there is a debate among atheists,” not “debate among Christians.”

November 20, 2006 at 5:35 pm
(2) Austin Cline says:

That’s really strange… the article is correct, and text for this post is taken from the article. How did it change? Thanks for pointing that out…

December 13, 2007 at 3:22 pm
(3) randomguy says:

imho
let each celebrate in his own way. Let a Christian celebrate Christmas and say their Christmas sayings and be happy doing what the want. (my parents never told me Santa was real)
let atheist celebrate Christmas (or by any other name they want to celebrate the holidays) in their own way and be happy doing what they do.
Let each one celebrate according to their faith/ or lack of faith.

December 13, 2007 at 3:39 pm
(4) Blunderov says:

I’m glad to have opted out of the whole frenzy. The stress used to be unbelievable. Every year the contre temps of severely mismatched presents occurs. Add to this the inevitable sleep deprivation of Christmas day itself, closely followed by a complete surfeit of food and alcohol spiced, often, with some long simmering family angst and you have the perfect storm of a holiday. Not to mention the hideous expense of it all. No wonder its considered suicide season.

Actually I’m just being Grynchy for the fun of it – I have had lots of wonderful Christmasses in my life. But I don’t do that any more and it really is less stressful.

Still, to each their own.

December 13, 2007 at 5:02 pm
(5) tracieh says:

I totally agree with Random that everyone should feel free to celebrate in their own way without someone shoving something down their throats…literally:

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/12/12/subway.attack/index.html

>A Muslim man jumped to the aid of three Jewish subway riders after they were attacked by a group of young people who objected to one of the Jews saying “Happy Hanukkah,” a spokeswoman for the three said Wednesday.

>The New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating Friday’s incident on the Q train.

>Friday’s altercation on the Q train began when somebody yelled out “Merry Christmas,” to which rider Walter Adler responded, “Happy Hanukkah,” said Toba Hellerstein.

***

Yeah, “Merry F***ing Christmas, you nonXian piece of crap!”

That’s what passes as Christmas spirit for some, I suppose.

December 13, 2007 at 10:45 pm
(6) randomguy says:

http://www.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnoughNews/idUSN1041014220071210

that article shows how we can all celebrate our own ways happily. even tho there are others who rather force beliefs on eachother. i have wished people merry christmas before some have not cared, others have objected and i sincerely apologized if i have offended them. just enjoy your time with your family. let us not let our beliefs get in the way of having a good break. with that said. Merry christmas to those who celebrate it. happy hanukkah to those who celebrate it. and a happy holidays to all those who celebrate other things.
and of course have a happy new year.

December 14, 2007 at 10:40 am
(7) vjack says:

I ignore it, but I certainly don’t begrudge any atheist the right to celebrate whatever parts of it he or she may want.

December 14, 2007 at 10:45 am
(8) SusanT says:

I’m mostly with Blunderov on the relief of NOT having to endure all the CRAP that comes with what was originally a religious holiday (and a made-up one, since nobody knows WHEN, what day, Jesus was born)…piggy-backed by the Romans onto ancient Pagan holy days.

Since so much of Xmas DOES come from an ancient veneration of the Earth, I now celebrate the winter solstice (there are several groups near me that hold gatherings–sometimes I just go out into the yard alone & dance around!), and we have a tree (again, ,a NON-Christian thing) with presents only for our kid, and if we’re not too lazy, a special dinner.

For us, it’s about bringing light and fun into the darkest time of the year, as it was for the ancients, about family and the look on my son’s face when he gets his new acoustic-electric guitar…then listening to a few tunes. That’s enough for me!

December 14, 2007 at 12:26 pm
(9) Kafir says:

My wife tells me that in her native East Germany they knew as children that the presents given on christmas were not carried in by a jolly fat man who decides to be generous one day out of the year. She was never raised to believe it in any systematic fashion and all the same she relishes in the holiday. So I think our secular celebration of xmas will not be compromised in any when we have children and throw the santa myth by the wayside.

As for decorating, would it be distasteful if I set up a manger scene on my lawn where instead of baby jesus, I lay a steaming plate of noodles with a couple meatballs on top?

December 14, 2007 at 3:40 pm
(10) CrypticLife says:

If anything, the Santa story fostered my doubts in a deity. C’mon, a fat man in a red suit flies around in a sleigh pulled by reindeer and visits every house at something approaching the speed of light, with some type of moral calculus to determine presents which can all be picked up at the local mall?

And these are the people who say evolution is unbelievable?

“would it be distasteful if I set up a manger scene on my lawn where instead of baby jesus, I lay a steaming plate of noodles with a couple meatballs on top? ”

To the contrary, that sounds like it’s full of taste.

December 14, 2007 at 4:50 pm
(11) Pujjuut says:

I was raised into the christianity belief but now an atheist and have been for a couple of decades now, I only go along with this holiday season because of family members who are religious, mainly for their children, also there are soooo many people who celebrate it here, I don’t want to get singled out by the religious lot.

I also know some other atheists who go along with the holiday.

December 14, 2007 at 11:47 pm
(12) ChuckA says:

Oh…Kafir?…
RE: “As for decorating, would it be distasteful if I set up a manger scene on my lawn where instead of baby jesus, I lay a steaming plate of noodles with a couple meatballs on top?”…Erm…
may I suggest (with all due respect, of course)…
a theft resistant (chained?) Parmeson cheese dispenser? You know; just to complete the “wholly season(ed)” FSM ‘flavor’.

What’s that, Kafir?…Paper plates?…
Let’s not get ‘carried away’, now! ;)

January 12, 2008 at 10:37 am
(13) Tom T says:

My $0.02 – for what that is worth after taxes …

I personally celebrate ‘christmas’ but in no kind of religious way. I treat the holiday as a family thing – a time for families to get together and bond and express their feelings for each other (good or bad).

I don’t yet have children – but if/when I do I don’t intend on encouraging the santa myth. Sadly I have a mother in law who is somewhat rabidly catholic and anything involving grandma and christmas is likely to get difficult – haven’t come up with solutions about how to deal with that yet.

December 12, 2008 at 6:17 pm
(14) deegee says:

My little problem with the title of the article is that it assumes that all atheists were Xian before they were atheists. I was born jewish and did not abandon that religion until I was a teenager. Neither my family nor myself, of course, ever observed Xmas in any meaningful way (other than hanging out with Xian friends on Xmas day sometimes), so the question itself is moot.

The only things about Xmas which actually meant something to me are: day off from school or work (I am retired now so even that is irrelevant), most businesses and government agencies are closed, TV schedule is all screwed up, no print newspaper, and no U.S. mail delivery!

December 12, 2008 at 6:55 pm
(15) Austin Cline says:

My little problem with the title of the article is that it assumes that all atheists were Xian before they were atheists.  

How so?

Neither my family nor myself, of course, ever observed Xmas in any meaningful way (other than hanging out with Xian friends on Xmas day sometimes), so the question itself is moot.

Hardly. The option of “ignore” is what you used to do and what you may feel more comfortable doing in the future.

The question is only “moot” in a culture/context where no one is inundated with Christmas all the time and therefore forced to think about it at some point.

December 13, 2008 at 12:56 pm
(16) BEX says:

My family is from Ontario, which has recently established a statutory holiday on the third Monday in February called Family Day…I’m considering proposing to my family that we do all our usual “Christmas” stuff then instead of with everyone else…It will help all of us avoid the hassle that goes with the holiday shopping pressures.

December 14, 2008 at 12:25 pm
(17) deegee says:

>(Me:) My little problem with the title of the article is that it assumes that all atheists were Xian before they were atheists.

>(You:)How so?

(Me:) Those who are not Xian and not atheists already had no reason to celebrate the holiday for the same reason – it is not our holiday. Imagine if your article had the title, “Atheists and Hannukah, should Atheists ignore Hannukah or celebrate it?” or “Jews and Christmas, should Jews ignore Christmas or celebrate it?”. In either case, the indicated group would have no reason to celebrate the indicated holiday. A better and more complete title to your article would have been, “Atheists and ALL Religious holidays, should Atheists celebrate them or ignore them?” That’s my main point.

>(Me:)Neither my family nor myself, of course, ever observed Xmas in any meaningful way (other than hanging out with Xian friends on Xmas day sometimes), so the question itself is moot.

>(You:) Hardly. The option of “ignore” is what you used to do and what you may feel more comfortable doing in the future.

(Me:) I should have added “for me and others who are not Xian” to the end of the sentence. I thought that was understood.

>(You:) The question is only “moot” in a culture/context where no one is inundated with Christmas all the time and therefore forced to think about it at some point.

(Me:) I agree there are many things relating to Xmas this time of year, from displays to advertising to songs on the radio to charitable donation solicitation. However, I don’t give it a second thought. It is not difficult to simply block it all out and go about my daily business. I have never felt “forced” to think about it.

December 14, 2008 at 12:34 pm
(18) Austin Cline says:

Those who are not Xian and not atheists already had no reason to celebrate the holiday for the same reason – it is not our holiday.  

Then the “ignore” option in the title applies. It’s what you currently do. Ergo, the question definitely isn’t “moot”.

A better and more complete title to your article would have been, “Atheists and ALL Religious holidays, should Atheists celebrate them or ignore them?”  That’s my main point.

Except there is only one dominant cultural holiday occurring at this time of year which large numbers of atheists may be forced to choose between celebrating or ignoring – and that has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not they have ever been Christian. There are other holidays, but few if any atheists will be faced with any decisions about what to do with regards to them.

Ergo, there are large number of atheists for whom the question is relevant to varying degrees.

December 13, 2011 at 4:10 pm
(19) Rod Chlebek says:

I celebrate by seeing family, by eating and cooking, by sharing gifts, by decorationg, by lighting scented candles. Outside of praying before dinner and putting up a nativity scene, I don’t see or hear much of Jesus except from those who insist that baby Jesus should be displayed in a manger in front of the courthouse. Every now and then I hear some ignorant person say “the real reason for the season” implying that this whole winter celebration is because of Christ. What good is it going to do to correct them? If they felt the need to say that to be heard then presenting a counter claim would prove fruitless.

December 14, 2011 at 12:29 am
(20) Thedude456 says:

It’s kind of sad how there is atheism in our world. I mean how can people think that we are were just randomly created by “the big bang” and the universe was pre existing. Something would have had to create it and that is god. Also when jesus comes again all those non believers out there will be sorry. Or when we all die and are standing at the gates of heaven, and god opens his book and your name is not in it, theyl all be sorry

December 14, 2011 at 6:49 am
(21) Austin Cline says:

It’s kind of sad how there is atheism in our world.

It’s very sad how there is distrust of reason and logic in our world.

I mean how can people think that we are were just randomly created by “the big bang” and the universe was pre existing.

No one; fortunately, that doesn’t describe atheism.

Maybe you should learn what something is before lamenting that it exists?

December 14, 2011 at 8:34 am
(22) vjack says:

I ignore it, but I don’t have any strong feelings about what other atheists should do. It is up to them. If they enjoy this or any other holiday, I say more power to them in celebrating it. All I ask is that they knock off the fireworks at a reasonable hour. And yes, here in the South fireworks are a part of every holiday, even Christmas.

December 14, 2011 at 11:01 am
(23) ministerpumbaa says:

Like so many “xian” holidays, xmas is stolen from the pagans. Being non-believers in a xian world, I celebrate “present day”. We still do the whole tree thing. but we quit lying to ourselves a long time ago. We give gifts and the whole shabang. Now its a season to celebrate family and friends. Which should be done all year long. It is really quite a shame that they dont even know why they celebrate the holiday. Or any of “thier” holidays. But that is religion for you. I think the whole “Happy Holidays” thing is a crock. If you are a xian saying happy holidays and not merry christmas, then you just acknowledged that yours is not the only “god”. But dont tell that to them. Why cant people see through thier own bullsh*t? I always get the evil eye when I tell any xian that if they were born in iraq they would probably be muslim. Oh no, my god would not do that to me. Bull. Most people, not just christians, dont realize that they are so full of crap that they can not see it themselves. And if you go by definitions of any religion. probably 60-70 % are Satanist. But again dont tell that to anyone of any faith. How can you just change and update a religion for the times? You can’t. It becomes something else entirely. But back to xmas. They call it a religious tradition. But shouldnt a tradition be more than 100 years old, especially regarding a religious holiday? XMAS IS A CROCK!!!

December 14, 2011 at 4:15 pm
(24) ORAXX says:

I, for one, would be perfectly happy to ignore Christmas, were that possible. Aside from locking ones self away from the world for about six weeks there’s no reasonable way to do it that I know of. While I would never tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t celebrate, I do get powerfully tired of having all that “joy” forced on me every time I go into a store. So, bah humbug to the Christers.

To my fellow non believers, here’s what I do. On the winter solstice, I seek out a high lonely place and, as the horizon bisects the setting sun, I drink a toast to everyone who ever sought and suffered for…..the truth.

December 16, 2011 at 10:33 am
(25) Grandpa_In_The_East says:

What ORAXX says. What a wonderful and noble idea!

Grandpa

December 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm
(26) Scott says:

As far as I’m concerned, Christmas isn’t really a christian holiday. How could Jesus be “the reason for the season” when most Christmas traditions existed long before christianity? Yes, the (current) name of the holiday has religious origins. And yes, many people ALSO celebrate the birth of Jesus on this same day. But the “religious origins” of the holiday end there.

December 27, 2011 at 12:30 pm
(27) Ricardo says:

I was raised in a Catholic family, and we always celebrated Christmas but, strangely, in a very secular way. It was all about decorating the Christmas tree, gifts and Santa Claus. No Mass, no praying, not a single mention about Jesus.
Today my wife, my children and I enjoy Christmas a lot, although we are all atheists.

December 27, 2011 at 1:06 pm
(28) Terri Lynn Merritts says:

We celebrate the Winter solstice and the changing of the season (we do so for all 4 seasons). We have a solstice tree, lights, and exchange gifts. We make merry but we also do this for all of the seasons because we just enjoy get-togethers and happy times. Christmas was simply a Christian rip-off of much older pagan traditions just as the entire Jesus myth was borrowed in its entirety from much older pagan mythology.

December 12, 2012 at 6:02 pm
(29) Cousin Ricky says:

“Atheist parents who celebrate Christmas will probably include the Santa Claus myth, but this requires them to lie to their kids.”

Not necessarily. Is it lying to tell your kids about Mickey Mouse or Hansel and Gretel? Indeed, I was taught in Catholic school that Jonah was a fable; yet, even as an atheist, I consider that story one of the rare highlights of the Buybull. Why can’t we approach Santa Claus the same way?

December 12, 2012 at 9:07 pm
(30) Austin Cline says:

Not necessarily. Is it lying to tell your kids about Mickey Mouse or Hansel and Gretel?

It is if you treat those characters as real. That would be clear if you included the full context of my quote instead of taking a small bit out of context:

Atheist parents who celebrate Christmas will probably include the Santa Claus myth, but this requires them to lie to their kids. There’s no nicer way of describing what one does when telling small children that Santa Claus really exists and delivers presents to children all over the world. There doesn’t appear to be anything which justifies this deception, especially since there are many ways in which it might prepare kids for belief in Christian doctrines. Is this worth the risk?

December 18, 2012 at 6:24 pm
(31) Deucalion says:

Hmmm, well, my thinking on this is, if a holliday isnt specifically religious (as Christmas is not, historically) and I LIKE said holliday, then I’ll celebrate is. Heck, even if it IS religious, I might still celebrate. I tend to celebrate Celtic and Norse hollidays because my ancient ancestors did so. For example, one day long ago we (my friends and I) had an impromtu Festival of Odin, in which we drank huge ammounts of beer, as well as slaughtering and cooking a whole pig over a fire. Do I BELIEVE in Odin? Of course not! But it was a great excuse to stuff myself with meat and beer, so I’ll continue to celebrate it whenever possible.

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