Happy Whatever You Celebrate. Or Don’t.

I have an interesting mix of friends on Facebook, and in the past few weeks I’ve seen a lot of this:
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And also a lot of this:

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December 25th – is it a day that atheists should celebrate?

There are those that argue that because it is the (alleged) birthdate of Jesus Christ, that anyone who doesn’t believe in him should not celebrate on that day. There are also those that go so far as to say that atheists shouldn’t get paid time off from their employer on December 25th. Yeah, that’s not how it works.

Jered has devoted a couple of podcasts to talking about the history, traditions, and origins of the Christmas holiday, so I’m not going to get into that. However, you can take a listen to them here and here. If you don’t have the time to spend listening to those, I would be willing to bet that you know how to Google – so type in “Pagan origins of Christmas” or something similar and see what happens. Basically, pretty much every Christmas tradition ever is ripped off or borrowed from something else. It’s all important stuff, just not the point of this post.

First off, the argument that because atheists don’t believe in a god, that they should not get paid time off for Christmas. This will be short, because it should be blatantly obvious. December 25th is a federal holiday. If you work somewhere that gets paid time off for it, everyone does. If your employer pays holiday pay for it, everyone who works that day gets holiday pay. Employers can’t discriminate based on religion.

Now onto traditions and celebrations; no one gets to lay claim on any certain day and say that no one else can celebrate it or how they have to celebrate it. How would that even work? Every single day on the calendar has some special, personal meaning to someone on the planet. To others, it’s just another day.

In that same breath, no one gets to lay claim to traditions and say that no one else can do them. Much like the Christians borrowed so many of their present day traditions from the pagans, non-Christians can in turn borrow those traditions for their own celebrations. Everyone just needs to stop claiming these traditions as specific to their culture or worldview and just realize them for what they are – things that are done every day by people from all different backgrounds.

Gift giving? People give gifts for a multitude of reasons, including no reason at all. It doesn’t have to be because of the Three Wise Men and their gifts for the savior baby.
Decorating a home with greens? People decorate with plants and plant trimmings all year round. Cooking a big meal? Baking sweets? Singing? Spending time with family and friends? Donating to charity? The list can go on and on, but none of these are specific to either Christianity or any specific day of the year.

My own holiday was celebrated yesterday, the highlights of which were my niece parading around with her two new Frozen blankets, my nephew betting my husband his own candy canes during a game of Go Fish, improvising a recipe with my sister, laughing with my family, yummy food, donating to someone in need, watching my niece and nephew’s faces when they opened gifts, and playing with my dogs. None of those things had to be unique to the day, or this time of year, but they were wonderful nonetheless.

So should atheists celebrate December 25th or Christmas or whatever you want to call it? If they want to, then absolutely yes. If they don’t want to, that’s great too. And if you want to use December 25th as a day to worship Jesus Christ, then that’s awesome and you should, just don’t expect the rest of the world to as well, and don’t take offense if someone else doesn’t. We can all do our own thing, and it doesn’t have to be a “war” or something ugly; it’s actually quite beautiful.

So happy holidays, whatever you celebrate. Or don’t.

Amanda

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