I was listening to a guy talk about how we, as atheists, shouldn't celebrate Christmas. His big issue was that we are still revering the symbols of Christianity when we put up trees and Santas, exchange gifts, etc. He did acknowledge the pre-Christian roots to these rituals, but, as they have been assimilated into Christianity, we are unwittingly worshipping Christ. At least, that is what I remember was his main thrust.
I would have to disagree entirely with that premise. Let's take Santa, for instance. A lot of us have heard how Santa is based on Saint Nicholas. He was exactly what his title infers, an early christian bishop who was highly revered and a reputed gift giver who miracles have been atributed to. The Santa Clause we know bears little resemblence to the original. He is something much more fun and entertaining than some crusty old guy giving gifts to the poor. The Santa in my house is something a lot closer to the Odin figure of my Germanic ancestors. Even that has changed into something more colorful in our time. The North Pole, reindeer, Rudolph, elves, and Mrs. Claus are all things we've added to make Xmas more fun. I'm not worshipping Odin anymore than Christ when I use the Santa wrap for the kids presents.
The Xmas tree and lights all over the place are about as pre-Christian Germanic ritual as you can get. You find a whole lot of stuff about fertility and persistence of life in the iconography hidden in our Xmas decorating traditions. The lights harken to sun worship. Sure, Christianity can be tied to sun worship too, but, they just took the icons and rituals and twisted their meaning. The lights have been tied directly to calls to the sun or symbolization of stars. Again, just because I have a tree, decorations, and lights around my house does not mean I've given in to a supernatural belief of the motivations of astronomical phenomina. Even less I'm worshipping Jesus by throwing up icicle lights along my eaves.
When it comes down to it, I celebrate Xmas, not Christmas. It's an entirely secular and commercial holiday, almost completely devoid of any supernatural influence. When the girls have given up on Santa belief it will be completely devoid. If you stripped Xmas day of the non-Christian icons and rituals you would have just another religious day of reverence that I could care less about. I might as well go to work. So, whoever that guy was can sit in the dark and try not to have fun while he avoids any religious ties. I choose to adapt the enjoyable parts of our religious past into something secular and, most importantly, fun.