Should Atheists Celebrate Christmas?

This seems to be a perennial question that I honestly don’t get.  There are some atheists out there who are convinced that no atheist ought to be celebrating Christmas.  Why the heck not?  Christmas hasn’t been a religious holiday for a very long time. It is entirely secular.  Christmas trees, Santa Claus, mistletoe, presents and hanging out with family and friends, none of that is religious in the slightest.  In fact, even among the religious who might add a couple of religious elements to their celebration, the overwhelming majority are doing it much more for secular reasons than for religious.

So what motivates these people to demand that people shouldn’t celebrate?  I suspect that some of it has to do with a general distaste of all things even quasi-religious or having been tainted by the stink of religion, but that’s really a ridiculous reason. Lots of things in modern society have their origins in religion.  You can’t just stop living in the modern world because once upon a time, it had religious connotations.  And, well, there are some people who are just dicks, who don’t like seeing people having a good time so they make excuses for why nobody should.  These are often the same people who make the same arguments about all manner of other holidays, like Easter and the 4th of July.  Professional killjoys do not impress, sorry. But beyond being jerks or not having the slightest clue what Christmas has become, what other excuses could they have?

I say go for it.  There is nothing at all religious about Christmas.  It’s a time to have fun, to be with family and friends and to exchange presents.  That’s it.  It really doesn’t matter what anyone else does on that day, make the celebration your own and enjoy it.  Aren’t atheists supposed to be freethinkers?  Why would you allow anyone to ruin your fun?  I know I certainly won’t.

2 thoughts on “Should Atheists Celebrate Christmas?

  1. "Christmas hasn’t been a religious holiday for a very long time. It is entirely secular. Christmas trees, Santa Claus, mistletoe, presents and hanging out with family and friends, none of that is religious in the slightest."

    While this is certainly true for many people – atheists in particular – it certainly is not true for everyone. This statement is not an objective nor universally accepted truth. There are many, many people for whom Christmas most definitely is a religious holiday. They celebrate it as such. I just got back from visiting my wife's brother and his family, all of whom are evangelical Christians. Christmas at their house most definitely was not the secular affair of which you speak.

  2. "You can’t just stop living in the modern world because once upon a time, it had religious connotations."

    None of the atheists who say that atheists should not celebrate Christmas argue that atheists should "stop living in the modern world." because of the presence and continued influence of religion. Rather the argument is that our particiption in such religious holidays helps to perpetuate the oversized influence of religion in our culture. Now, like you, I don't find this a particularly persuasive argument. But I also don't think it particularly intellectually honest of you to misrepresent the arguments made by such atheists. You should, for example, read this essay by Tom Flynn, executive director of The Council for Secular Humanism and editor of Free Inquiry magazine <a href="http://(http://www.centerforinquiry.net/images/blog_images/AntiClaus_the_beginning.pdf),” target=”_blank”>(http://www.centerforinquiry.net/images/blog_images/AntiClaus_the_beginning.pdf), or listen to this podcast about the Trouble with Christmas, also by Tom Flynn, <a href="http://(http://www.pointofinquiry.org/tom_flynn_the_trouble_with_christmas/)” target=”_blank”>(http://www.pointofinquiry.org/tom_flynn_the_trouble_with_christmas/). Or read this essay by Austin Cline <a href="http://(http://atheism.about.com/od/christmasholidayseason/p/AtheistsIgnore.htm)” target=”_blank”>(http://atheism.about.com/od/christmasholidayseason/p/AtheistsIgnore.htm). In fact this essay does a much better job than does your posting in laying out the reasons why some atheists argue that athiests should not celebrate Christmas. Should you chose not to examine these sources, that is your right. But please stop deluding yourself that you have anything beyond ignorance on the topc of arguments about why atheists should not celebrate Christmas.

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