Monday, December 10, 2012
The Christmas Wars
It’s Christmas time again, my favorite time of the year. Something about Christmas just brings out the joy and happiness and makes me want to get together with friends and celebrate by handing out gifts, drinking booze and wishing them a new hopefully prosperous new year. The house being decorated and a tree located in my living room filling my house up with the aroma of pine brings back old memories of Christmas’ s passed now and reminds me of the thrill and joy I had each night before and after Santa’s visit.
Even as an atheist, or rather as a person who doesn’t believe in religions, I love this holiday season. But does that mean I celebrate it as a time to worship or celebrate the birth of a deity? No, not at all I just want to celebrate the great year I had and try to stay happy as the amount of daylight we receive is incredibly reduced placing me in what seems like a dark and dreary world where things all around me are dying.
It becomes more and more funny to me when I look around and see Christians getting upset over the fact the Christmas is celebrated by secular people who don’t say ‘merry Christmas’ to you when you walk by but instead say ‘happy holidays’. To Christians this is an attack on their religion and their holiday, and to them we are ‘taking the Christ out of Christmas’.
This month I have prepared a few blogs (not very long ones) dedicated to Christmas, each one a different idea or thought on a single or few aspects of the holiday. This first one is about Christmas and how it is not a Christian holiday and the conservative right-wingers in this nation (and around the globe) are very wrong in believing and perpetuating the idea that there is an all out war being waged against Christmas.
The idea of Christmas, like many other ideas, came from the Pagans who celebrated this period of time as a period of death and rebirth. As we approach winter the ancient pagans noticed something (what must have been something scary for them back then) about the sun; it got lower and lower as it got closer to winter. By December 21st their worst fear was realized when the sun peaked at it’s lowest point during the entire year, making it looks as if the sun was in fact dying and the earth would be plunged into this eternal darkness. But three days after the 21st the ancient humans noticed that the sun started to get higher in sky, thus saving them from certain doom. To them this was the birth of the sun and their salvation, for the sun would remove the darkness and provide warmth and give plants the necessary nutrients to grow and product fruit, etc.
Throughout history this prototype for Christmas has been used by many other cultures, and now it is being most popularized by the recent solar savior, Jesus Christ (Christ isn’t his name by the way, Christ is a title meaning anointed one). In fact the holiday wasn’t even recognized by the church until circa 300AD. People like to also say that America is a Christian nation but the holiday wasn’t adopted as a national holiday until 1870. You would think that a Christian founded nation would have made that a priority.
You see, this is not a Christian holiday, nor is this a Christian nation. It’s an ancient human tradition and you don’t have to be a Christian to celebrate it. The idea of celebrating around the winter, to pray for better times, to surround yourself with friends an loved ones is actually a very ancient notion that predates Christianity and any other organized religion (although a bunch of ancient people worshiping the sun may in fact be interpreted as the first organized religion).
But now that we are all adults now and can make our own choices why are we being chastised for it? I don’t believe in the Christian god or any god for that matter, but I like to celebrate this time of darkness and death with friends in hope for light and prosperity. How am I launching a war against Christmas by not worshipping Christ? I haven’t gone into your church and said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa this isn’t right. Stop all of this right now or I’ll complain.” I think you have a right to believe in whatever god you believe in, worship whatever holiday you want, so why are you attacking me because I don’t believe in Christmas yet I celebrate this season with my friends?
You may be reading this and be a Christian. If so I want to say that first off I really don’t care if I have offended you. People from your church offend me on a daily basis so if what I say annoys you then comment and debate this with me. You most likely think that since God has been around even before Christianity was an idea to humans that that must constitute for something. You may think, “Well the reason he is so happy and filled with joy is because its God’s doing and he just doesn’t realize that. Because Jesus is in all of our hearts and he puts that feeling there.” That just isn’t so. Since I was a kid we celebrated Christmas and I didn’t even know it was a religious holiday until I got older. It wasn’t Jesus’ magical powers making me feel joyous and wonderful on Christmas. It was being around my family and friends and knowing that the sun may never start going up again and we all may be on constant darkness, but at least we all have each other. And I don’t think that we can’t have that feeling unless there is some god to make it happen.