The Holidays Without Faith

There are grumblings every year.

Talk of a so-called “War on Faith” or “War on Christmas” pops up every year, be it on blogs, news websites or social media. I am bombarded by it from every angle — images fly by on time lines, friends have opinions they absolutely need to share, marketers fill up every ad space they can get their hands on. Despite the fact that I’m an Atheist, most of the time I just keep my opinion to myself, but today is a new day.

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People ask, “how can you celebrate Christmas when you don’t believe in Christ? His name is right there in the holiday’s name!”

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Images boldly proclaim that this holiday must belong to that religious group, and if you don’t believe in this particular version of life as we know it, then you shouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the holiday. I do like this retort to that sentiment though:

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Now I know that all I’m doing at the moment is poking fun and stoking the fire by posting memes, but honestly, do a little bit of research for yourself. Here’s a link that will give you some insight into just how much this isn’t a Christian holiday. To paraphrase, the Winter Solstice is the root of the Christmas holiday, and the holiday as we know it is steeped in Pagan ritual and takes influences from many different cultures, all of which celebrated a holiday at a similar time of year, in many different ways. Before Jesus existed (and before you ask, no I don’t think Jesus was a real person at all, but that’s a story for another day), people still celebrated the passing of the worst part of winter, and looked forward to longer and warmer days ahead. See, there were times when people didn’t have the luxury of heaters, well made clothing and grocery stores. They had to worry about keeping warm and having enough food to last through the winter. It was serious shit back then, so there was good reason to celebrate the receding cold fronts.

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This is all rather frustrating as an American, where the vocal majority is Christian. Politicians are regularly touting this country as a Christian nation, claiming that we were founded on principles of their religion and all that is right and good with the world comes from this Christian morality. This isn’t true either, but without educating yourself and doing a little bit of research, you wouldn’t know any better. I truly believe that this is the case with a large majority of Americans — they just aren’t paying attention. They’re simply going along with whatever is easiest, and believing everything they’re told. What happens when they really do look though? If you’re a person of deep religious faith and I just pointed out that your holy day is a sham, you’re not likely going to listen to me, are you? No, because you have been told since you were little to avoid people of no faith. Logic and Reason could win the day if you just let it, but no, you must fight against the Devil’s influence and ignore the facts that are staring you right in the face. Christmas is not a Christian holiday. America is not a Christian nation. Christmas is a commercial commodity. America reserves the right to freedom of religion, which also means freedom from religion. It was truly formed as a secular nation, and that whole separation of church and state bit isn’t really being respected these days.

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So how does one avoid these sorts of difficulties? Well, to be honest there is no avoiding it. You either go with the flow and go about the same traditions that countless generations have gone through before you, or you stop celebrating it altogether. Or you continue to celebrate the holidays without acknowledging the religious stuff. Honestly it’s become a hollow shell of what it started out as; commercialism of the holiday has ruined much of its spirit, though I can appreciate the sentiment of spending time with family and having that one time of the year where you spread joy by giving gifts to one another. For me, I simply go about the holiday with that in mind, knowing that I can make someone happy with a gesture and spending time with family is important. This whole “war” just irritates me because people that I love and respect believe in things that I find irrational, and in some respects you have to pick a side. It is impossible for me to sit idly by and acknowledge a fanciful story that has little to no evidence to prove it. It is impossible to acknowledge this holiday as the day little baby Jesus was born (or some variant of that) because there isn’t enough evidence of his existence. It is impossible for me to acknowledge this nation as being a Christian nation when I am not one of them, and it was not founded on those principles.

If more people did research, this wouldn’t even be an argument.