I did not celebrate Christmas at all this year and simply treated it as if it were any other day off work. As an adult, I've never been particularly into Christmas, but this was probably only the second year where I did not observe the holiday at all. Without local family to insist on honoring the holiday, the choice was mine, and I chose to ignore it. I must confess that I found it much more relaxing and enjoyable this way.
Although I cannot honestly say that the religious associations with Christmas do not bother me, I do not believe that this is the main reason I prefer not to celebrate it. It is not even the commercialism, although I do also find that distasteful as well. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure I see much point in celebrations of any kind. It is not that I do not understand why others value them; it is that I just do not seem to have the need for them.
The best example of my feelings toward celebration involves birthdays. Asa child, these were usually fun and had a different meaning. As an adult, what exactly is it that I'm being asked to celebrate? Is it that I am another year older? Is that really something to celebrate? New Years is around the corner, and this is a similar example. Does celebrating the end of one year and beginning of a new one make any sense whatsoever?
As I reflect on these questions, I realize that what really bothers me about these kind of celebrations is that they are based on tradition. We celebrate various holidays or milestones because we were raised by people who celebrated them. Maybe we continue these traditions because we don't know any better. Maybe we value them because we are reminded of happier times. And of course, we live in a culture that pushes us to celebrate them. Those who participate are rewarded with acceptance and inclusion. Is this starting to remind you of another sort of tradition?
I am not anti-tradition per se. However, if what may have been a harmless source of enjoyment and comfort during childhood ceases to be so, why should I continue it simply to perpetuate the tradition? Outgrowing religion and eventually learning to feel comfortable with atheism has shown me that I can find fulfillment without religious traditions. I suppose it is only natural that this would cause me to assess other traditions and discard those which have ceased to serve a purpose.
Tags: atheism, religion, holiday, Christmas, tradition, celebration