December 16, 2008

Atheist Christmas

The reason for the seasonImage by mintprofusion via FlickrI'm not celebrating Christmas this year. This is nothing new for me. I haven't celebrated it for the last several years, although my family celebrated around me a few years ago when they visited. I have only one reason for not celebrating this holiday - I see no point in celebrating it. It really is that simple. I'm not trying to make some sort of political statement about my distaste for America's culture of consumerism. I'm not even trying to take some sort of principled atheist stand. I don't have anything against people who do celebrate, including the many atheists who do so. I simply do not see any reasons why I should do so, and so I do not.

I have no strong opinions on whether atheists should celebrate Christmas. It really isn't up to me, and it isn't something to which I've devoted much thought. If you enjoy it, derive some benefit from it, or simply want to participate in it, do so. You'll get no judgment here. Just because I see no reason to join in does not mean I'll think any less of you for doing so.

Some atheists seem to have developed a complex around their participation in Christmas. They try to justify their participation by claiming that Christmas has become thoroughly secularized in the U.S., promoting Winter Solstice, or even referring to themselves as "cultural Christians." I'm not sure if these efforts are directed at other atheists, Christians, or themselves, but I have my suspicions. In any case, they strike me as completely unnecessary.

If you are an atheist and you want to participate in Christmas, do so. I certainly don't need an explanation. I just wish that the same courtesy would be extended to those of us who have no interest in the holiday. Happy holidays.

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