Thanksgiving is past, and, on December first, I always hang our "Advent Calendar" on the wall in the family room near the fireplace. The calendar is fringed burlap with a large, green felt tree in the middle. There are 24 red buttons sewn on the tree.
This was a handmade gift from a dear friend many years ago before I even had children, and my children are now ages 22 and 28.
Each day from December 1st through December 24th, a colorful felt ornaments is taken from a pocket on the calendar, and that ornament is hung on one of the red buttons on the felt tree. There are a snowflake, a drum, a bugle, a holly leaf, a wreath, a snowman, a candy cane, Santa, a reindeer, and so on.
Pocket number 24 always contains "baby Jesus" in half a walnut shell.
I'm fine with most of the colorful and whimsical symbols of the make-believe and romance associated with the season, but will admit that I feel somehow uncomfortable about "baby Jesus".
Upon analysis, I think my discomfort is because it seems fine for adults to enjoy "Let's pretend" with children and even with each other in connection with holidays, but Christians separate the myth of Jesus from all the rest, and deny that the "Jesus story" is as much a fable as that of he elves, the North Pole, Frosty, and Rudolph.
So...I wondered how other atheists handle the Christmas season, in big ways and in little ways.
I'm particularly curious about those of you who have young children. Do you engage in any seasonal make believe with them? Do you introduce them to any of the cultural symbols of the season? If so, do you avoid the manger and wise men and star of Bethlehem?
Tonya, do you not know how choosing to spend time in a room differs from being ordered to spend time in a room?
Are you perchance studying engineering?
Ha ha ha! ;) Very funny. :)
My daughter (age 16) and I usually go to a movie (this year it will be Smaug!) and out to eat. We sometimes have a gift if there is something special wanted or needed but since she got a new computer, desk, chair, etc in the summer-- we'll just go shopping for some new clothes next week. We will spend the evening with the Dr. Who marathon and munch on homemade onion rings!
I sleep in and catch up on much needed rest! Another paid day to relax!
HEATHENS GREETINGS, EVERYONE!
Great greeting Felaine! Thanks.
It's always felt like a secular, winter-time holiday. Something to bring people together during the cold and dark winter months. The whole Jesus thing never sat right with me, even as a kid. I stopped believing in Santa because I got most of what I wanted one year and I had not seen Santa at the mall that year! *gasp* I guess I did not truly believe in the whole magic nonsense.
We also decorate a tree and exchange gifts. Whatever the religious beliefs of my parents (they don't really talk about it. Ever.), it has always been a secular holiday for us. Tomorrow I'm going to visit my immediate family for the holiday. After that? Probably just relax and enjoy my week off work. I don't really have any plans. Until recently, I worked in retail, so I am used to working my butt off getting yelled at by customers. So I plan on enjoying peace and quiet this year. :)
My favorite seasonal songs for this time of year are usually ones that are...humorous. "The Night Santa Went Crazy" by Weird Al comes to mind. :)
I have a toy reindeer that plays "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer." Always makes me laugh.
Skating in a (Fake) Winter Wonderland
Left to Right: Debbie Williams, Margaret Fields, Frank Sawyer, Erika Kraft.
Christmas The Uaka Festival
It is time to reflect on where it came from and what it meant to people some two thousand years or more ago.
'The Real Story of Christmas' is a website that takes a close look at the customs people celebrated around the time that the Roman Senate decided to adopt it as one of their numerous birth-dates for the birth of their new mythical god. - See http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/Christmas_TheRealStory.htm
The new church found it impossible to change the ancient customs and had to go along with most of the ancient traditions especially heavy feasting and heavy drinking. Fortunately quite a few of today's Christians no longer keep to the worst rituals, such as this:
"The earliest Christmas holidays were celebrated by drinking, sexual indulgence, singing naked in the streets (a precursor of modern caroling), etc"...
"Some of the most depraved customs of the Saturnalia carnival were intentionally revived by the Catholic Church in 1466 when Pope Paul II, for the amusement of his Roman citizens, forced Jews to race naked through the streets of the city. An eyewitness account reports, “Before they were to run, the Jews were richly fed, so as to make the race more difficult for them and at the same time more amusing for spectators. They ran… amid Rome’s taunting shrieks and peals of laughter, while the Holy Father stood upon a richly ornamented balcony and laughed heartily."
"As part of the Saturnalia carnival throughout the 18th and 19th centuries CE, rabbis of the ghetto in Rome were forced to wear clownish outfits and march through the city streets to the jeers of the crowd, pelted by a variety of missiles. When the Jewish community of Rome sent a petition in1836 to Pope Gregory XVI begging him to stop the annual Saturnalia abuse of the Jewish community, he responded, “It is not opportune to make any innovation"
"On December 25, 1881, Christian leaders whipped the Polish masses into Antisemitic frenzies that led to riots across the country. In Warsaw 12 Jews were brutally murdered, huge numbers maimed, and many Jewish women were raped. Two million rubles worth of property was destroyed."
The origins of this very irreligious festival were already lost in the mists of time when the first church was founded.
Massey - "It has often been a matter of wonderment why the birthday of the Son of God on earth should be celebrated as a festival of unlimited gorging and guzzling. The explanation is that the feast of Christmas Day is a survival of the ancient Uaka festival, with which the rebirth of the Nilotic year was celebrated with uproarious revellings and rejoicings, as the festival of returning food and drink. It was at once the natal-day of the Nile, and of the Messu or Messianic child under his various names. It is called the birthday of Osiris in the Ritual (ch. 130). Osiris, or the young god Horus, came to earth as lord of wine, and is said to be “full of wine” at the fair Uaka festival. The rubric to chapter 130 states that “bread, beer, wine, and all good things” are to be offered to the manes upon the birthday of Osiris, which, in the course of time, became equivalent to our New Year’s festival, or Christmas Day. The grapes were ripe in Egypt at the time the imagery was given its starry setting. This offers a datum as determinative of time and season. The times might change in heaven’s “enormous year”; other doctrines be developed under other names; the grapes be turned to raisins. But the old Festival of Intoxication still lived on when celebrated in the name of Christ. The babe that is born on Christmas Day in the morning is Horus of the inundation still."
Whether ancient Egyptians danced naked in the streets is something we just do not know. They did sing Uaka Carols and from what we have found these were not much different from those sung by the modern faithful:
"He is Born! He is Born! O come and adore Him!
Life-giving mothers, the mothers who bore Him,
Stars of the heavens the daybreak adorning.
Ancestors, ye, of the Star of the Morning.
Women and Men, O come and adore Him,
Child who is born in the night.
He is Born! He is Born! O come and adore Him!
Dwellers in Duat, be joyful before Him,
Gods of the heavens come near and behold Him!
Bow down before Him, kneel down before Him,
King who is born in the night.
He is born! He is born! O come and adore Him!
Young like the Moon in its shining and changing,
Over the heavens His footsteps are ranging,
Stars never-resting and stars never-setting,
Worship the child of God's own begetting!
Heaven and Earth, O come and adore Him!
Bow down before Him, kneel down before Him!
Worship, adore Him, fall down before Him!
God who is born in the night."
There is one thing we must not do at Christmas and that is to wish anyone 'A Happy Christmas', since the meaning of the word Krst is Burial. None of us really want to wish a HAPPY BURIAL upon anyone, whoever they might be.
All-Occasion Generic Greeting Card (well, I wouldn't use it as a sympathy card....or maybe I would. Heh!)
BK, This year my hubby & I put up a tree (Soltice/Pagan?) and we decorated it with ornaments which depict something in nature, such as animals from around the world, fake deer antlers (small!), and pine-cone critters. I also had a collection of hearts, to depict our love for each other; lights and garlands for the glitter and glow; and a few bear ornaments my children, Mom, and I decorated eons ago to remember them.
To me, "Christmas" simply means nostalgia about earlier family get-togethers, especially Xmas ones. All of my parents generation have passed away as well as my oldest brother. The children are grown--ages 41 and 38, with their own friends, families, and homes far away from where we live. They need their own traditions of closeness and love at this time of year before we all face the bleakness of winter after the celebrations are over.
There is such a sense of loss, but deep love for those whom we have lost. There is even a sense of loss of "the Past"--not that it was better, but that we were all still here and together. I am proud of my nation that the people have rejected the "isms"--at least to the extent that many of us have. More needs to be done. This time of year, whether celebrated as Christmas (without the religion) with the binge buying & giving, the excessive food, and the great movies, will always mean one thing to me: family. And that is the greatest gift of all, if we are fortunate enough to have one as loving as mine has been. No one fights, there are no long-held grudges, no jealousies, and no rivalries. Just unconditional love. That's why I'll always love Christmas, even though I am a staunch Atheist, as is my spouse.
We are against ALL religions. We are against believing in make-believe, fairy tales, and pious lies. We view the best comedies to be those about religion and especially the "scientific" search to confirm religious myths. It is my most fervent hope that humanity will grow up and eschew religions.
My husband is a retired research scientist and I am a retired college professor (geography/anthropology). I think he's smarter than I and he thinks it's the other way around. We compliment each other and learn from each other. My greatest Christmas gift (and all the rest of the year, for 30 years) is our deep commitment and love. That is something worth celebrating!