Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why?

About a week ago (how time flies) I asked my followers on Twitter and others I know, on and off the Internet, quite a few of them fairly aware people usually standing by their convictions, why atheists or radicals or anti-consumers and similar celebrate Christmas. I did it for obvious reasons, since it most certainly flies in the face of everything they stand for, and because I was indeed curious, and I have always seen it as an irreconcilable contradiction.

I got quite a few replies and answers, all very polite. The reasons I was given were pretty much what I expected, family and tradition and habit, and a few prejudiced questions in return. There is no need to be specific, using names or aliases here. All and any response I got was pretty similar, except one, saying it appealed to his sense of irony, which was different, at least.

At least no one brought up Scrooge from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol this time. Thank the goddess for small favors. But there were people that insisted on claiming that I had had a bad experience of Christmas as a child, even if I repeatedly told them the opposite several times. Why should there necessarily be a bad childhood experience? There are plenty of reasons to loathe Christmas without it, on its own «merit».

One important factor was that my laidback, even polite question received far more replies and called far more attention to itself than my heart-wrenching story from Copenhagen, which says a lot about even the fairly radical and independent followers I keep on Twitter and friends I have on the Internet in general, and the world at large.

Is this a grave matter, you may ask. In my opinion it is. Sorry, guys, in my opinion celebrating Christmas, in any form, anything even resembling the Christian way or the consumer insanity or as a glue for society or encouragement for nationalism and an even longer list of additional negative factors is just plain wrong, a way of appeasing all the bad forces driving the «celebration». It is far more than an innocent get-together with family and friends. Some of you were clearly embarrassed, and you should be, and more. Christmas can never be reformed, can never be anything else, can never be justifiably defended. It’s just a bad thing.

The fact that most of you hadn't even been asked the question or didn't seem to have considered it before should tell a lot.

Habits are a thousand strands of a spider’s web later to become chains. Christmas is a dangerous and oppressive tradition that should be broken. It’s justifying so many bad things, and cementing both religion and consumerism in current society, and almost more important: It’s a part of the treacherous ongoing process pulling people back into an oppressive society they want little or no part of. It is training children, ruining them, if you like, to accept and even be excited about many things in life they should shun like a plague.

Say no to Christmas, now, and for all time, and crucially: to what it represents.

11 comments:

  1. I have been an atheist since I was about 10( I am now 58) but I have no problem with Christmas. I attach no religious significance to it and just enjoy it for the traditions that have come from many different cultures ( especially here in the states) and from years of yore. My family roots are English, German and Italian and we combine our customs and honor our ancestors. We also celebrate Hannukah and Diwali with Jewish and Indian family members and friends.
    Christmas also provides jobs for many folks and extra income for a few weeks. During the winter, when folks here are struggling to afford to heat their homes, that can be important. I am a social worker and have many clients who were able to get" Christmas rush "temporary jobs that led to permanent positions later or were the first entries on what became a full resume' eventually.
    I also appreciate the fact that some people do believe in the story ( as is their prerogative) and have a special connection the the holiday. They are part of my human family and I honor their joy although I don't understand or share it.
    The holiday is also a way to break up the year and mark its passing. Tomorrow night we will feed our friends, unbelievers and believers alike, and enjoy their company and exchange small gifts and enjoy having our kids home from college . I see nothing wrong with a festival at our house at this time. If we celebrated special family time at some other point in the year not everyone would be in the area or our kids wouldn't be off from college and friends be off from work. I like the tradition. I have no problem with it at all. I also love the music. I am going to go and blast some Handel and bake some more delicious cookies now.
    I enjoy you on twitter and will be reading your blog from now on!
    Ruth ( ruthanng on twitter).

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  2. Thank you for your thoughts, Ruth.

    You obviously belong to the group I am writing about, Ruth...

    I remain puzzled, even frustrated. I don't understand you at all.

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  3. I am very aware Christmas is a sham. But its tradition. I dont have any illusions about it. But its what the family does. So I fall inline for this holiday. But the rest of the stuff we dont really participate in. And its also hard to explain to little kids 3 4 5 religous beliefs and what. Ill save that for when they are old enough to comprehend.

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  4. I would like to hear more about why you find it oppressive. I find Christianity to be oppressive but Christmas pretty much has nothing to do with that for most folks- it's just a time to celebrate each other and light up the darkest days of the year. If we got rid of Christianity and religion in general I am sure that the celebrations would continue to exist. They predate the Judeo Christian world by thousands of years- almost all cultures have some version of them, and they are fun.

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  5. One thing is to celebrate the Winter Solstice, the true New Year at December 21st, but that has nothing to do with Christmas. Some Wiccans have a celebration they call Yule, but they are unfortunately fond of emulating Christianity.

    The winter solstice, the New Year celebration is thousands of years old, not Christmas, not Yule.

    And stated, it isn't only the religious part, far from it, but a lot of other stuff, both connected and not, mentioned in my article.

    My puzzlement, frustration and lack of understanding remain, and I fear it will prevail.

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  6. This stuff is new (to me) this year, this questioning of whether or not atheists should, I dunno, ignore Christmas. I'm an atheist. I was raised with absolutely no mention of any religion, positive or negative, so effectively an atheistic upbringing. Yet, every year we hauled a tree into the house and my dad cussed his way through getting it in the stand and on the morning of the 25th, we opened gifts from friends and family members. It just seems so harmless really, an excuse to spend some time with loved ones. If others want to go to church on that day, whatever, I'm not driving anyway.
    To answer your question, and I think it is an answer you already have, it's just tradition and in line with the very American habit of turning holidays into excuses to eat, drink and take a swing at a relative.
    If anyone should be pissed off at Christmas, it's devout Christians. Look at how the rest of us have twisted it into a eggnog-fueled shopping spree. Yeah, I know about the whole Winter Solstice thing, but who was going to celebrate that anyway? It's kind of low excitement, know what I mean? Atheists and the lazy won this war a long time ago. All the religious chatter come December is just the moaning of the wounded and dying.

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  7. It isn't harmless, you should know that much. People’s «decision» to celebrate Christmas isn’t taken in a vacuum. Their «choice» has consequence for many others, making it that much harder to expose the deceit making up the oppressive society.

    I don't believe you are aware, truly aware how integrated Christianity is in the modern society. We are fed the garbage from the cradle, even from presumptive atheist parents, because they were fed it from the cradle. Christianity remains pervasive and present.

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  8. "Christianity remains pervasive and present."

    --Kind of a hard segue into Christianity from Christmas, eh? So refusing to acknowledge Christmas (or Mythmas as I like to call it) will undermine the horrible Christians and "expose the deceit making up the oppressive society." Got it. You sound a bit more than just curious about people's take on it. In any case, moving on.

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  9. The fact that there is Christmas and Christianity is an affront to humanity as a whole.

    Yes, it would be a good start if people would stop "celebrating" Christmas.

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  10. I'm not personally celebrating Christmas in any significant way. I enjoy the music, and some of the other trappings. I used to believe, but when I realized all Abrahamic religions are just myths like greek or norse pantheons were, it freed me up to see the entirety of the holiday season.

    Christmas is not just a Christian holiday. It's all encompassing. Many still call it Christmas, cuz when we don't, some Christians take that personally, and we don't want people to feel upset during the Winter Solstice, so some of us just call it Christmas to please the Christians. Otherwise they claim we're waging war or something and we're not.

    We just don't believe in your imaginary friend. That's all. That's not waging war. That's doubting you can prove your god exists, or not knowing whether or not you can prove your god exists and we don't want that to get in the way. We can still enjoy one another's company and encourage peace and share in the bounty that is this planet.

    It doesn't matter if there was a creator. Really. It's not that important. It doesn't matter where this Earth came from or where it's going. Not right this second. We are here now, together. That's what really matters. We'll figure that other stuff out in due time.

    We know enough now about science and history to deduce the Bible's just fiction, like Homer's Odyssey or Shakespeare's plays, maybe sometimes based on history but not accurate enough to be dependable. Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad are interesting heroic characters, like Odysseus, or Harry Potter, or Superman.

    So we can take what is fun about this time of year and still celebrate it. Share it. Spread peace and good will towards all.

    War on Christmas? Nope. Never was. At least not on this end. If Christians have been defending a war on Christmas, you can stop any time. We're not fighting you. We just choose reality over fantasy, but once a year it's fun to play along.

    Some parts of Abrahamics are downright scary and cruel, like Abraham with his son on an altar, or the baby Jesus growing up to get hung on a tree. Or that thing about the lake of fire for all your god's enemies and critics. That's not very friendly. It's not pleasant. It's disturbing that throughout the year this is how you imagine your friends and family will end up, just because they disagree with you. But once a year, let's put all that aside, and instead celebrate hope and joy and peace and love. We're with you on those things, even if we don't share your beliefs.

    Your dogma is dodgy, but we get the message.

    To quote John Lennon, The war is over, if you want it. Have a merry, happy, and safe Christmas.

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  11. I just shake my head in disgust, really, faced with your apologist ways and have already responded several times above.

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