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Atheism and the holidays

Atheism and the holidays
« on: November 17, 2008, 03:38:15 AM »
My family, while not very religious, does in fact celebrate christian (christmas, easter, etc.) holidays. I usually go along with the holidays for the fun of it, just ignoring any religious aspects. Now I'm questioning if its right to celebrate these holidays that promote such superstition.

I was just wondering how everyone else here handles holidays. Do you celebrate them ignoring religious aspects, make your own, or just not celebrate at all? Eventually when I live on my own I'll substitute religious holidays with secular holidays of my own or others. Does anyone have any ideas on secular holidays?

Re: Atheism and the holidays
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2008, 04:01:27 AM »
I celebrate the seasons and the earth cycles. (Haha! I must sound like a hippie) Spring equinox (March 20 or 21), summer solstice (June 20 or 21), fall equinox (September 22 or 23) and winter solstice (December 21 or 22). So for Christmas you celebrate the shortest day knowing that the sun will return the Earth to summer once again. It's slightly Pagan; I'm the only atheist in my family.

Re: Atheism and the holidays
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2008, 06:21:19 AM »
From my point of view, the Christmas holiday is so secular these days anyway, it doesn't bother me to celebrate the day with gifts and my family (well, my atheist husband, 8yo claims-he's-atheist son, and uber-religious, midnight-mass mother... small family).  I could call it mid-winter celebration or solstice, but that would be weird for me.  We do the tree, lights, stockings, Santa, cookies and milk, the whole 9.  Why not?  The kid is only young once and I love buying gifts for everyone.  I do it because i love my family and my hubby is a great cook.  I don't care what it's called.

On Easter, we decorate eggs because it's fun and we hide them around the house for the kid to find because he loves it.  We don't do the easter basket anymore... did it two years running but we just don't need the crap in the house and it has no significance at all other than candy.
**Kerri**
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Re: Atheism and the holidays
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2008, 09:05:26 AM »
Quote from: "Graham"
I celebrate the seasons and the earth cycles. (Haha! I must sound like a hippie) Spring equinox (March 20 or 21), summer solstice (June 20 or 21), fall equinox (September 22 or 23) and winter solstice (December 21 or 22). So for Christmas you celebrate the shortest day knowing that the sun will return the Earth to summer once again. It's slightly Pagan; I'm the only atheist in my family.

I've heard of many celebrations of seasons and earth cycles and am interested in them but have not heard of the actual acts, or "rituals" if you will, in these celebrations. What separates it from any other day besides the knowledge that the earth is in a different position with the sun?



As for raising children with these holidays, i to believe it is indeed enjoyable to see your child grow and experience these things. It is genuinely a fun, even if not true, experience. But couldn't we argue that religion is also a "fun" not true experience. Not fun as in the sense of sitting in church reciting psalms all day, but in the sense of the "positive" emotion that may come from a delusion. Does this not promote superstitious thinking? and is it ethical to "trick" your children because you want to see your child in those situations (for your benefit)? Not that I am saying that it is wrong or making an assertions. This is a question i am asking simply because i can't answer them.

The last topic could be in another thread on its own but it is relevant to the topic at hand so ill just pray (just kidding) that we don't get too off topic

Re: Atheism and the holidays
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2008, 10:46:45 AM »
Quote from: "Libera"
My family, while not very religious, does in fact celebrate christian (christmas, easter, etc.) holidays. I usually go along with the holidays for the fun of it, just ignoring any religious aspects. Now I'm questioning if its right to celebrate these holidays that promote such superstition.

I was just wondering how everyone else here handles holidays. Do you celebrate them ignoring religious aspects, make your own, or just not celebrate at all? Eventually when I live on my own I'll substitute religious holidays with secular holidays of my own or others. Does anyone have any ideas on secular holidays?

I love Christmas, I love the good cheer & camaraderie, I like giving presents and I don't mind getting them, I like the food, the "wine" and just about everything about it ... I just (as you seem to) ignore the religious stuff and when it's on TV I switch channels, or watch a recording, a download or a DVD :)

One of problems is carol singers ... I'm not nasty or anything but I don't quite know how to deal with them (especially as they are often collecting money for one religious charity or other).

Kyu
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Re: Atheism and the holidays
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2008, 12:16:22 PM »
Quote from: "Kyuuketsuki"
I love Christmas, I love the good cheer & camaraderie, I like giving presents and I don't mind getting them, I like the food, the "wine" and just about everything about it ... I just (as you seem to) ignore the religious stuff and when it's on TV I switch channels

I agree. I think christmas is a great party, and Danes have a tradition for getting wonderfully and exceptionally drunk in snaps at easter.  :beer:

Except for always switching channels: I find it entertaining, because it reminds me that it's all a social-construct from a mish-mash of cultures anyway.
Like when they tell the story about the birth of Jesus. I smile and think of the fact that it was decided that this should be held at wintersolstice at the council of efesos in 342! To accomodate the spreading of christianity to the "heathen" celebrations/holidays. As people in Palestine back then, considered it blasphemic to celebrate a persons birthday, no one really knows when Jesus was born (or even if, as some might claim), but:
Of course people didn't want this new god, if it ment not getting to party on certain occasions like they were used to!  :beer:  :pop:

And its even more funny when you look at how people decorate their homes.
A friend of mine - who actually believes in the old nordic gods....(yes he thinks Odin is real in some sense) -  enjoys remining people at christmas how the elves and the christmastree stems from (and celebrates) his religion. And that is in every christian home in the world!

Quote
One of problems is carol singers ... I'm not nasty or anything but I don't quite know how to deal with them (especially as they are often collecting money for one religious charity or other).

It's like drugs: Just say no!

- or be polite and explain that you only donate to charity, where they give without asking for anything in return.
"Man does not draw his laws from nature, but impose them upon nature" - Kant
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Re: Atheism and the holidays
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2008, 12:24:26 PM »
Quote from: "Libera"
I've heard of many celebrations of seasons and earth cycles and am interested in them but have not heard of the actual acts, or "rituals" if you will, in these celebrations. What separates it from any other day besides the knowledge that the earth is in a different position with the sun?
Last question answered first: In principle nothing! It's all to do with traditions and how people historically explained nature by religion. Look into almost any sun worshipping cult in history, and they had (and have!) rituals during those periods. 1000's of years B.C. ! Also the nordic religion - "Asetro" - had a ritual around wintersolstice where the tree and the elves are from. I think its called "Blot", but I don't know the details, since it's all superstition to me.   :|
"Man does not draw his laws from nature, but impose them upon nature" - Kant
[size=85]English is not my native language, so please don't attack my grammar, attack my message instead[/size]

Re: Atheism and the holidays
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2008, 12:33:27 PM »
Quote from: "Zarathustra"
Also the nordic religion - "Asetro" - had a ritual around wintersolstice where the tree and the elves are from. I think its called "Blot", but I don't know the details, since it's all superstition to me.   :|
I' m not sure whether "elves" is the right word? But those little hooded guys helping out santa. Elfs? Alfs? (God?)
What's in a name anyway? Especially when it refers to something that only exists in human imagination.
"Man does not draw his laws from nature, but impose them upon nature" - Kant
[size=85]English is not my native language, so please don't attack my grammar, attack my message instead[/size]

Re: Atheism and the holidays
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2008, 05:56:48 PM »
Quote from: "Libera"
As for raising children with these holidays, i to believe it is indeed enjoyable to see your child grow and experience these things. It is genuinely a fun, even if not true, experience. But couldn't we argue that religion is also a "fun" not true experience. Not fun as in the sense of sitting in church reciting psalms all day, but in the sense of the "positive" emotion that may come from a delusion. Does this not promote superstitious thinking? and is it ethical to "trick" your children because you want to see your child in those situations (for your benefit)? Not that I am saying that it is wrong or making an assertions. This is a question i am asking simply because i can't answer them.

The last topic could be in another thread on its own but it is relevant to the topic at hand so ill just pray (just kidding) that we don't get too off topic

Hi Libera... I do think this is on-topic because it addresss what we do and don't do for the holidays and why.

We discussed the whole "tricking" the child issue.  We decided it all comes down to semantics.  We're not tricking the child, we're letting him believe in a fantasy and we decided to be honest if he ever asks, not like our parents did and say "Yes of COURSE he's real!"  When he was 4, he figured it out and asked us if there was a Santa or not.  We told him no, not really... we discussed the physics and the timeframes involved and even at 4 years old, he got it (he's a math whiz).  We told him that we are ALL Santa in some form, giving joy to others, ALL year but that on Christmas, we do it up really big so we can see BIG smiles that one time a year.  Every year, we talk about the absolute impossibility of Santa but we still do the cookies, sit on Santa's lap, etc. because that's just what you DO at Christmas.  It's now a tradition, not a trick, because we CHOOSE to continue the practice.

For religion and faith, you assume it's all real and never delve into the possibility that it's not.  TO me, that's the difference between continuing the Santa myth and doing the religion myth.

Also, we found that so many Christians don't do Santa because they're afraid that when the kids find out Santa isn't real, they'll think Jesus and God aren't real.  Many of the families at our son's school fit this category.  Once we found that out, we were even more determined to do the Santa thing, let the kid have the fantasy for awhile longer.

WE also tell the kid that what people believe is up to them until it infringes on our rights.  IT's a hard concept for a kid, but we were proud when we heard that one day, one very religious kid from one of those families that doesn't do Santa or the Easter Bunny was running around on the playground telling all the kids that the Easter Bunny isn't real.  And it was really upsetting the younger kids.  Bren went over to him and told him to be quiet and stop telling kids that, that they have the right to believe in the Easter Bunny as much as he has the right to NOT believe.  I was so proud of him!!
**Kerri**
The Rogue Atheist Scrapbooker
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Re: Atheism and the holidays
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2008, 08:09:44 PM »
Quote from: "Libera"
Quote from: "Graham"
I celebrate the seasons and the earth cycles. (Haha! I must sound like a hippie) Spring equinox (March 20 or 21), summer solstice (June 20 or 21), fall equinox (September 22 or 23) and winter solstice (December 21 or 22). So for Christmas you celebrate the shortest day knowing that the sun will return the Earth to summer once again. It's slightly Pagan; I'm the only atheist in my family.

I've heard of many celebrations of seasons and earth cycles and am interested in them but have not heard of the actual acts, or "rituals" if you will, in these celebrations. What separates it from any other day besides the knowledge that the earth is in a different position with the sun?



As for raising children with these holidays, i to believe it is indeed enjoyable to see your child grow and experience these things. It is genuinely a fun, even if not true, experience. But couldn't we argue that religion is also a "fun" not true experience. Not fun as in the sense of sitting in church reciting psalms all day, but in the sense of the "positive" emotion that may come from a delusion. Does this not promote superstitious thinking? and is it ethical to "trick" your children because you want to see your child in those situations (for your benefit)? Not that I am saying that it is wrong or making an assertions. This is a question i am asking simply because i can't answer them.

The last topic could be in another thread on its own but it is relevant to the topic at hand so ill just pray (just kidding) that we don't get too off topic

I think the best thing to do is teach your children how the solar system and earth work. (why we experience seasonality and what happens at other places of the earth at this time) Help them make sense of these things so that it doesn't puzzle them later on and they make up other explanations. That way they might ponder other curious mysterious and maybe solve these puzzles because they understood the earth at an early age. The rest is up to you whether you give them gifts or not. I won't get into my opinion on gift giving but don't raise your children to want to receive. Teach them to enjoy the company of others as well. Use your time off (if you have any) to spend with your family not fretting over buying gifts because they don't matter in the long run. The alternative to the gift giving is making sacrifices to the sun. Haha!! I wouldn't recommend it though.  :D How old are your kids?


edit: I almost forgot... It's important to teach your children about religion and explain to them why you don't participate in a religion. That way they will be less inclined to be fooled into a religion and will be able to think on their own.

Sophus

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Re: Atheism and the holidays
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2008, 09:09:42 PM »
Of course Christians always ask why, but I say why not? I grew up with Christmas. The annoying "Jingle Bells" and boring house lights are obnoxiously old but I still indulge in Christmas. It's fun (in some ways). I think the gift giving is too excessive though.
‎"Christian doesn't necessarily just mean good. It just means better." - John Oliver

Re: Atheism and the holidays
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2008, 11:16:54 PM »
Quote from: "Graham"
I celebrate the seasons and the earth cycles. (Haha! I must sound like a hippie) Spring equinox (March 20 or 21), summer solstice (June 20 or 21), fall equinox (September 22 or 23) and winter solstice (December 21 or 22). So for Christmas you celebrate the shortest day knowing that the sun will return the Earth to summer once again. It's slightly Pagan; I'm the only atheist in my family.

Are you by any chance a pantheist?  Because that'd rock.   :D


Anyway, I celebrate all the regular holidays for being holidays.   Namely I celebrate the ones that I have off, for lack of choice.  And I'll keep celebrating the same ones until I find a job that gives me a more custom work schedule, because I think I'd get skewered if I asked if I could have the summer solstice off.

All that aside, the idea behind modern Christmas, with the gift giving, and spirited music, and having a tree inside your ultra-illuminated house, rocks.
If sin may be committed through inaction, God never stopped.

My soul, do not seek eternal life, but exhaust the realm of the possible.
-- Pindar

Re: Atheism and the holidays
« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2008, 12:46:18 AM »
Quote from: "PipeBox"
All that aside, the idea behind modern Christmas, with the gift giving, and spirited music, and having a tree inside your ultra-illuminated house, rocks.

I agree... though I'm not happy that the local radio station that goes "all Christmas music 24/7" did so yesterday.  Ugh.  I like the music but when they start this early, I get tired of it by 12/1!

I love driving around and looking at the lights on the houses around us... and this year, with the hybrid vehicle, I won't waste as much gas doing so!   :banna:
**Kerri**
The Rogue Atheist Scrapbooker
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Re: Atheism and the holidays
« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2008, 02:21:46 AM »
My wife is an atheist like I am, but was raised in a semi-religious family (I was not). She really enjoys Christmas, as it was a big part of her family tradition as a child. Given the choice, I wouldn't celebrate anything specific about the holiday, but I think it would pretty much break my wife's heart to not do anything. So, we have the tree and trade gifts. It makes her happy, so it makes me happy.

Re: Atheism and the holidays
« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2008, 02:52:14 AM »
I would love to celebrate alternative holidays such as the seasons and earth cycles but I have to agree that christmas simply rocks. I love that compassionate feeling everyone gets around the time, I love decorating the big tree, looking around at neighborhood christmas lights. I just wish there was an alternative that could celebrate secularism (atheism, free thought, etc.) itself, as it does mean a great deal to me.  

Quote from: "Graham"
How old are your kids?

No kids actually (Fortunately, I'm 15), just asking to gain a greater understanding of what is right/wrong with religion and false superstitious thinking.