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An Atheist's Christmas

Okay, stop. Right now. This goes for everybody, theists and non. Read no further until you stop laughing, raging, staring incredulously, or whatever reaction is it you're having to the idea of atheists celebrating Christmas. Just quit. When you're ready to approach the subject with an open mind, please continue on.

In the beginning (to copy a well-coined phrase), there were people of many religious bents. Some were what we call pagans, some were Druids. Others followed the Egyptian pantheon of gods, or the Roman, or the Greek (with what small differences there were between those two). There were many ancient gods and religions. And most , if not all, had some sort of winter celebration.

Then came the Christians (we'll not worry about how at this particular time). At first they were few and persecuted. Then they began to grow, and eventually rulers of nations converted. Sooner or later, it followed that they were in power.I...embrace the secular aspects which are all around us.

Actually, let me stop and clarify something very quickly. This is an extremely simplistic version of history only for the purposes of this discussion. So please, you purists, don't send me letters full of corrections. I know that I've probably got my time line off, and that I'm skipping a lot. It just doesn't matter much right now. Okay, we can go on.

The Christians wanted to convert people, and they thought one of the easiest ways to help do that was to make their holiday celebrations on the same days and/or times as the more popular ancient religions. So they did. And they picked the day in December that Mithraists celebrated the birth of Mithra, and eventually we had Christmas.

Now let's skip ahead quite a bit to modern times. Along with the Jesus story of Christmas (and Hanukah, Kwanza, Ramadan, Solstice, and any other religious winter observances I'm forgetting), we have Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Hanky the Christmas Poo (for you South Park fans), Ebenezer Scrooge, and the famous Santa Claus. Okay, I know Santa started out as St. Nick (among many others from various countries), which is obviously a religious thing. But is anybody going to argue that the fat guy wearing a red suit, using flying reindeer, and hanging around with elves still has religious significance?

The point to all of this (and yes, there is a point) is that the celebration of Christmas has grown far beyond it's original roots, varied as they are. It now has as many secular aspects as it has religious. It has become a part of American culture and is represented as much by the Garfield and Flintstone's Christmas specials shown yearly as it is by the nativity. It's a Wonderful Life may have religious themes (certainly, with the angel), but is A Christmas Story any less enjoyable because of its lack of them?

Some people choose to embrace only the spiritual aspects of Christmas, eschewing the materialism and secularism that American culture has dealt to the holiday. Why, then, would it be any stranger for some of us to do the opposite? I eschew the spiritual aspect of the holiday, but embrace the secular aspects which are all around us.

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