Is Christmas for Atheists?

by LittleToe 42 Replies latest jw friends

  • LittleToe

    Given that so many practises associated with Christmas are blatantly Christian in origin, is Christmas truly for Atheists?

    I know that often there are few Christian connotations attributed to it nowadays, in such a secularised society, but history is on record in showing that the whole baby Jesus thing and angels singing with their "peace and goodwill" stuff is definitely a Christian element. Would any true Atheist today want to drink such a mixed cup?


    Reference to the following thread may give further food for thought:

  • Mysterious

    We'll take the Christ out of Christmas yet.

  • Abaddon

    I'll drink from a mixed cup, I'll drink from a loving cup, but most of all I love to drink from the furry cup...

    On a more serious note some atheists might consider taking part in the secularised remnant of a pseudo-christian festival adapted from older pagan festivals an uneccesary compromise of their not believing in god. I somehow think the majority ding-dong merrily on high, and if there's a party in the prospect will happily celebrate Ide, Devali, the birth of Zorastor and so forth.


    LT, are you writing a book on who should celebrate Christmas??? IMO, it's for anyone who wants to celebrate it! People are attracted to Christmas because it looks like a fun thing to do. And of course because Americans make such a big deal out of it. In all honesty, I think the lights attract people...just like they do deer.


  • lonelysheep

    Sure it is! We know nativity scenes aren't necessary!

    The marketing holiday of christmas is fun.

  • LittleToe

    I'll grant you that Atheists are probably happy to drink from any cup, if someone else is buying, but given that this is a subject of much viciferosity I can't help but wonder.

    I mean, if an Atheist truly is convinced that it's all twaddle, why get into the Christmas spirit. It's not like you can avoid the happy-happy carol singing and Jesus-stuff if you indulge. Is Christmas really for true Atheists?

  • googlemagoogle

    wasn't there a thread about Xing out the X in Xmas or something along that line?


    Here is one person's viewpoint on it:


    Christmas presents a complex issue for atheists because there is currently so much more to Christmas than religion. People will justifiably decry the American consumer culture which appears to overemphasize spending and superficiality, but but which has also managed to diversify Christmas far beyond a Christians-only celebration.

    This may be one case where the ability of our consumer culture to tear down traditional meanings has actually done us a service.

    Christians quite literally stole a great deal of the outward aspects of traditional Christmas celebration from older pagan celebrations, and now secular consumer culture is stealing them, too.

    So, is Christmas religious or secular? Christians will naturally argue that it is religious - I can't tell you how often I see signs telling me "Jesus is the Reason for the Season." Well, they're wrong - and on a number of levels. The "season" itself is originally due to ancient Roman Saturnalia and pagan solstice celebrations, not Jesus.

    Today, Christmas may be wholly religious to many Christians, but it need not be religious in any way to anyone else. There's nothing inherently religious, much less Christian, about a whole host of Christmas activities: decorations, lights, Christmas trees, giving gifts, family gatherings, holiday meals and foods, etc. Even incredibly sappy holiday movies offer Christmas messages of human love and kindness which carry no inherent religious basis.


  • rebel8
  • Scully

    Here's one atheist's point of view:

    I was asked by a bloke at work whether I (as an atheist) celebrated Christmas. When I said I did he asked me whether there was anything hypocritical about that (actually he might have used shorter words). My response was that I don't see Christmas as being a Christian celebration, it is a secular festival built on a Christian adaptation of pagan traditions, there is little distinctively Christian about it and I feel no problems about joining in public and family celebrations of secular humanist values: peace, goodwill to all men is not a monopoly Christian sentiment.

    I am open minded about whether or not there ever was a man named Yehoshua ben Yosef, preacher and travelling miracle worker, self-proclaimed Son of Man, saviour of the Jews and only begotten son of Yahweh the Hebrew god. His existence or non-existence is not in any way an article of faith to me. Some atheist scholars are quite happy to consider him as a historical figure, albeit one about whom a lot of myths have been written. What is not in doubt, however, is that both the gospel accounts of the nativity of this figure are fabricated myths from start to finish. It stands to reason that if there was supposed to be a real messiah, son of God literally walking the Earth as an apparently normal man then he needs a story to account for his birth. An ordinary story would not do. It needs to be of a suitably mythic scale, full of symbolism, allegory and the fulfilment of Scriptural prophesies. That was what was needed, so that is exactly what was written.

    The Scriptures that the Christians wanted to appeal to say the messiah would be born of David's line, so Matthew and Luke faked the evidence to show that this was the case. Matthew 1:1-16, and Luke 3:23-38 show totally different genealogies, Luke's shows 41 generations from David's son Nathan to Joseph while Matthew lists twenty six generations from David's son Solomon. Biblical apologists try to square this circle and deny the contradictions but it it is quite clear to the impartial observer that by far the simplest explanation is that at least one, probably both of these genealogies are works of pious fiction. Think about it, you have a dead friend, how many generations of father-son genealogy do you think you will be able to trace back? I know the name of my paternal great-grandfather and I will tell my son, which may make five generations. Tracing back as far as Alex Haley did in Roots is a major achievement, a pure male line lineage of 41 generations of a dead carpenter? Pull the other one.

    Nothing in any of the gospels fixes the date of Jesus' birth. The early church simply did what it was very good at, stealing and neutralizing the traditions of other religions and cults. Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus as either December 25th, the birthdate and festival of the resurrecting God-man Indo-Iranian Mithras (originally Mithra, the name changes to Mithras for numerological reasons, just as Yehoshua is Joshua in the old testament and Jesus in the new, so the Greek name has numerological significance), or January 6th, the birthdate and festival of the resurrecting Egyptian God-man Osiris-Aion, born of the virgin Isis (the Black Madonna of so many “Christian” statues).

    There were festivals and celebrations at the time of the winter solstice long before there was a Christian church, for a couple of centuries at least before Jesus may have lived. The early Roman Church simply commandeered all shrines and festivals to itself. Places where pagan goddesses gave oracles became shrines of the blessed virgin Mary. Temples to Mithra or Apollo became churches, worship and festivals continued as before only the names and a little of the theology changed. What happened in the Greek and Latin worlds also happened in the Celtic, Germanic and Nordic lands. Old gods had their myths and festivals stolen and dressed up as Christian festivals. Celtic heroes became rewritten as Christian Saints. For the most part the people as a whole didn't seem to mind too much. There were still bonfires, feasts, gift-giving and excuses to get drunk. The change from pagan to Christian simply meant business as usual, slightly fewer orgies but just as much tax and as many idle priests as ever. Many old traditions and superstitions lived on and were Christianized. The people were still as irrational and superstitious as ever.

    The Christmas that we celebrate today is a mix of old pagan traditions such as evergreen decorations and feasting coupled with an often neglected Christian gloss and overlaid with more modern secular humanist and consumerist traditions.

    I am not unduly worried by the myth of the Baby Jesus in the stable. He doesn't really kill the Xmas atmos that much. Christmas is mostly a time of hope for peace, harmony and friendship. Two thousand odd years ago nothing significant happened on December 25th, it was an ordinary day. That is no reason not celebrate the festival of hope for the future. We don't need a non-existent God to send a son to be killed as a blood sacrifice for us. We just need to understand our shared humanity. That is the true message of this season of hope. We could do it at any time, but December 25th is traditional. The festival is called Christmas, it contains the name of a mythic religious entity that I do not regard as a god, but then so do the words Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. No big deal. As an atheist I have no more problems with Christmas than I do with Wednesdays. (Thursdays, of course, are a totally different matter, I never could get the hang of Thursdays .)

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