When I first realized I was an atheist a couple years ago, I had a hard time with Christmas. Christianity is so ingrained with Christmas in the US that I wasn’t sure I even wanted to celebrate it at all anymore. It made me sad, because I’ve always loved Christmas- the decorations, the music, the cultural tradition aspects… This year I am reclaiming my love of this time of year, but without compromising my strong feelings about religion.
I now celebrate the Winter Solstice, also known as Midwinter. Now generally known as Christmas, this is a very ancient celebration that goes back to our earliest human ancestors who gave a name to the date when the days start to get longer again. I love learning about the Celtic traditions. It’s a beautiful thing to celebrate- the natural cycles of our world are shifting yet again, winter has hit it’s peak and spring is on it’s way. I love the terms Winter Solstice, Midwinter and Yule to describe my holiday celebrations, but for the most part I still use the term Christmas because it’s what everyone I know is familiar with. Who wants to clarify every single time someone asks “Are you having a Christmas party this year?” “Well I am having a party, but it’s a Winter Solstice celebration.” “What’s the difference?” “Well… none really. It’s just food and winter decorations and social time.” “Isn’t that what most Christmas parties are about anyways?” Why yes, that’s exactly what most Christmas parties are about!
People say that Jesus is the reason for the season. I would respectfully disagree. Christmas was originally a pagan holiday, and saying “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” belittles and ignores the many beautiful and important winter traditions and beliefs that people hold dear. There are many reasons for the season; Jesus may be your reason, but he is not mine.
What do you love most about Christmas? Spending time with loved ones? The decorations and music? The amazing food and vibrant holiday get-togethers? Charity? Snow? Giving gifts? General good cheer? We don’t need to believe in Jesus to enjoy and appreciate these wonderful parts of Christmas. 🙂
I don’t care if you tell me Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, or anything in between. If I know what you celebrate, I will likely greet you that way or by saying Happy Holidays. I respect your traditions and it makes me happy that you’d take the time to wish me a holiday greeting. 🙂 What does bother me is the insistence of many people that the rest of us celebrate Christmas with them, or that we must celebrate it the same way they do. We are a diverse and beautiful people, and it’s time that the Christian version of Christmas realizes that it’s just one of many holiday traditions, not the only one of significance or importance.
It’s not a war on Christmas to acknowledge and respect all winter holiday traditions instead of just your own- that’s simply the polite thing to do. Let’s all try to coexist this holiday season, and respect all people’s holiday celebrations. Also, it’s not a war on Christmas to point out the true origins of Christmas, the rampant consumerism that has overtaken the entire season, or to point out Christian privilege and arrogance that is sadly so prevalent this time of year.
I wish you all the happiest of holidays, no matter what or how you celebrate. 🙂