Holy Shit, It’s Christmas!

Christmas Aisle 1
No religious decorations here…

Yes, this is the day that evangelical Christians claim wars are fought over, of course, they can’t demonstrate that anyone is actually fighting these wars, but it makes a good conspiracy theory, doesn’t it?  Yet no matter how many times I point out the facts, Christians can’t seem to get it through their tiny pin heads that Christmas just isn’t a religious holiday anymore.  In fact, you’d have to go back a number of decades before you could find a Christmas that was celebrated by the majority of Americans in a religious fashion.  It’s just not done anymore, not just because the majority of Americans really don’t buy into Christian beliefs these days, but because the whole holiday has become entirely secularized.  There just isn’t any room for Baby Jesus in most people’s Christmas celebrations.

How do we know this?  It’s quite simple, people just have to open their eyes.  Go into any big box retail store and look up and down their aisles.  See anything religious?  No?  Go check out their Christmas decorations.  See anything religious?  Probably not, although you might find a couple of small things stuffed on the bottom shelf, but the overwhelming majority of it is entirely secular.  Go out to the main drag of any major U.S. city, what do you see?  Religious decorations?  No, you see Christmas trees and flashing lights and other accouterments of the modern secular holiday.  The White House doesn’t have an annual Nativity scene either.  So where do these theists get the idea that Christmas is a religious holiday?

Christmas Aisle 2
Nor here, where could they be hiding?

Well, they’re delusional and that certainly helps.  They live in a magical fantasy land and they think everyone else ought to as well.  They point to the name and say “see!  It’s clearly dedicated to Jesus!” Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.  The name is a remnant of a time now long past when it was a religious celebration, but today it’s a sad reminder of how the once mighty have fallen.  Most Christians are not aware of how the holiday really came to be and what the pagan origins of Christianity (and most other so-called religious holidays as well) actually are.  In fact, I suspect many Christians would be shocked to know what evils their religious holiday has wrought  Maybe we should take a quick look at them, for the edification and entertainment of all.  Sherman, get that Way-Back Machine working, will you?

Christmas Aisle 3
Maybe Baby Jesus is hiding behind the ornaments?

The reality is that if Jesus ever existed in the first place, he wasn’t born on December 25.  The Bible makes it pretty clear that he was born in late spring but there’s been a lot of disagreement through the years.  The DePascha Computus, an anonymous document written in Northern Africa around 243 CE states that Jesus was born on March 28.  Bishop Clement of Alexandria thought Jesus was born on November 18.  Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at the Catholic University of America, member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and former president of the Catholic Biblical Association argues that Jesus was born on September 11, 3 BCE.  None of this had anything to do with Christmas, which started as the Roman celebration of Saturnalia, a week-long party of debauchery and lawlessness, during which no Roman citizen could be punished or held accountable for property damage or personal injury.  In the 4th century, the Catholic Church adopted Saturnalia in the hopes that by promising that Romans could continue to celebrate this popular holiday if they converted to Christianity, they could attract a large audience of new Christians.  Unfortunately for the early church, there was nothing particularly Christian about the Saturnalia celebration, in deed it could be said that it was about as anti-Christian as one could get.  To remedy this, the Church declared the final day of Saturnalia, December 25, to be the birthday of Jesus.  This was far from a boon, Stephen Nissenbaum, professor of history at the University of Massachussetts, Amherst, writes, “In return for ensuring massive observance of the anniversary of the Savior’s birth by assigning it to this resonant date, the Church for its part tacitly agreed to allow the holiday to be celebrated more or less the way it had always been.”  The earliest Christmas holidays were celebrated by drinking, sexual indulgence, singing naked in the streets (a precursor of modern caroling), etc.

Maybe they put the Nativity scene in the back yard?
Maybe they put the Nativity scene in the back yard?

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 Christmas celebration throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Jewish Rabbis in Rome were forced to wear clown-like outfits and march through the city streets to the jeers of the crowd, pelted by rotten fruits and other projectiles. When the Jewish community of Rome petitioned Pope Gregory XVI in 1836, begging him to stop the annual Christmas 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 such Antisemitic frenzies that it 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. Yeah, sounds a lot like modern Christianity, doesn’t it?

It’s not just Christmas though, I don’t think you can find a single major holiday during the year that is fundamentally religious these day.  Let’s look at the facts, shall we?  Easter?  It’s a pagan holiday that the Christians stole, currently epitomized by colored eggs and the Easter Bunny.  No Christianity there.  Halloween? It’s another pagan holiday that Christians stole, now associated with kids in costumes getting candy.  No Christianity there.  So where is the idea that there are *ANY* Christian holidays out there at all?  Name one!

So there’s no problem with atheists celebrating completely secular holidays and for anyone who says there is, put up or shut up.

To all my readers, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and hope you get a good chuckle at the theists who can’t figure out that not only have they lost, they never had victory to begin with.

2 thoughts on “Holy Shit, It’s Christmas!

    1. You ought to check out the newest episode of the podcast then, we talk extensively about Christmas and why it's perfectly fine for atheists to celebrate what has become essentially a secular holiday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Optionally add an image (JPG only)