December 24, 2010

I am Not a Pagan Either

pentagramI would guess that most atheists in the U.S. celebrate Christmas, but that would just be a guess. I am not aware of a good representative survey to back it up. I don't celebrate it, but I see no reason to criticize those who do. Their celebrations do not impact me one way or another because I do not participate in them. All the same, there is one increasingly popular defense some atheists are giving for their celebration of Christmas that I do not understand.

I am referring to what I'll call the "winter solstice defense." It goes something like this:
Christians stole Christmas from the pagans. It was originally a pagan holiday that had nothing to do with Jesus, and early Christians co-opted it as a way of stamping out paganism.
I do not doubt the veracity of this whatsoever, but I am not sure how it is supposed to explain anything about why an atheist would celebrate Christmas. At best, it might explain why a pagan would celebrate Christmas.

If an atheist wants to celebrate Christmas, he or she should be able to do so guilt-free simply because he or she finds it enjoyable. Why are any other reasons needed?

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