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.

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Comment by Rev Hellbound Alleee on March 29, 2009 at 6:57pm
Spot-on, Aaron. The Christmas tree was always anti, well, Jewish, considering it was in the OT. And Santa...you must have read some of the same stuff as I. The santa character, saint nicholas, and even satan as mythologies all come from the same sources.
Comment by zeeman barzell on December 18, 2008 at 4:53pm
I can pick out the bits of Xmas I want to practice, like the christians pick out the parts of the bible they want to practice.

pick and choose, pick and choose.....
Comment by Jennifer W on December 18, 2008 at 4:35pm
My friend from Russia says that New Years Day is actually celebrated like Xmas over there.They give gifts, have big meals, and have other festivities. I gave his mother a Xmas gift last year and she saved it for New Years.
Comment by Father Nature on December 18, 2008 at 4:10pm
The guy you heard bloviating about atheists celebrating Christmas is an idiot. Ignore him or ridicule him - you can't argue with an idiot. If all the Christians and their holiday symbols suddenly disappeared, the winter solstice celebration would be pretty much the same - except without nativity displays. We'd still have colored lights, Santa Claus, decorated trees, yule logs, holly, mistletoe, gifts, too much food and liquor, incessant seasonal muzak, and semi-sincere good cheer from store clerks. Happy Holidays.
Comment by Jennifer on December 18, 2008 at 3:09pm
I agree that there is nothing holy about how we celebrate Christmas/Xmas. Actually, now that I have no money and can't buy presents the "holi"-day has lost all meaning to me. (Damned economy.)

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