Thought of the day

Sure, I’m an atheist (because there is no evidence for any gods), but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the Christmas season. It’s a joyous time during a period when it keeps getting darker earlier and earlier, and I definitely enjoy the family Christmas party. (I, unfortunately, will not be attending it this year as I will be in Argentina on a hiking expedition to the highest peak in the Andes. Woe is me.) I even like Christmas music. And here’s the real good news: Christmas has become a largely secular holiday. Of course, it still has its Christian background, but I don’t think it’s a religious day for most people any longer; the day has begun to turn back to its pagan origin – an origin so many Christians seem so fond of ignoring, sometimes even denying, whether through ignorance or blatant dishonesty.

So I say, merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, happy Festivus, happy holidays, and all that. This really is a time for the secular and religious alike to come together to celebrate a season filled with holidays of both pagan and religious origins.

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2 Responses

  1. Well, you have most of it right. I just take issue with some minor things.

    1. Christmas Day does have it’s some roots in some pagan festivals, but only it’s day, not the holiday itself. Assuming Jesus did walk upon the earth, there isn’t any way to tell on which day he was born, a symbolic day serves as good a day as any other.

    2. Christmas isn’t the only “-mas” out there. There are tons of them, and usually they also live on an arbitrarily chosen day. (Michaelmas is a good example)

    3. People aren’t stupid, and religions are made of people. Knowing that Christmas Day isn’t likely Jesus’ birthday, why would the church risk alienating pagans they hope to convert? There isn’t a lot of sense in doing that. If they want to take an evergreen inside to symbolize “eternal life”, why try and stamp it out when it’s a ready made metaphor?

    4. Generally speaking many, if not most, christian denominations require or suggest attendance on Christmas and Easter if nothing else. The latest polling I can find is from 2010, but that year 62% are said to have attended a Christmas service, and among those who are not religious they show 17% attendance! I suspect the reason lay with either tradition or attending with friends or relatives.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think you are right that there are so many secular aspects to Christmas these days that it is almost universally celebrated. But that begs the question of why christmas trees, nativity scenes, and their like face lawsuits. It wouldn’t be Christmas without nativity scenes, lights, and carols. My jewish neighbor even has a giant inflatable nativity scene on his lawn.

    I just don’t buy it that only some of the popular traditions amount to 1st amendment issues, while others don’t.

  2. […] you mosey over to this post at For The Sake Of Science, there is an interesting point being made. His claim is that christmas is […]

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