November 22, 2011

The Other Christian Holiday Traditions

ThanksgivingI've noticed that there are a parallel set of holiday traditions practiced by some Christians that accompany the mainstream holiday traditions practiced by many Americans. What is remarkable about these parallel traditions is that they often seem to involve atheists and other non-Christians. Take Thanksgiving as an example. The mainstream tradition involves gluttony and spending time with extended family one might not get to see regularly. Nothing religious about that whatsoever. However, the parallel tradition some Christians seem to love involves incessantly pointing out that those who don't share their god-belief have nothing to be thankful for.

I ignore Thanksgiving for a few reasons, none of which have anything to do with Christianity. I've never cared for the traditional Thanksgiving meal. What little family I have is far away, and we prefer to visit at other times of the year. And I've never been thrilled with the questionable origins of the holiday (i.e., pretending that some early American immigrants were civil to the natives before deciding to exterminate them).

But I've encountered quite a few Christians who need to tell me every year around this time, "Of course you don't celebrate Thanksgiving! You don't believe there is anyone to thank." Some will then use this as an opportunity to proselytize (or perhaps they are simply trying to reaffirm their delicate faith). It never gets old, does it? "It must be awful," they say, "to feel gratitude and have nobody to thank."

Still, I'll gladly endure this bit of nonsense because I have plenty for which to be thankful and because I know how much worse it will be next month. That is when some Christians seek to remind everyone how persecuted they are simply because it is no longer as socially acceptable for them to impose the pagan traditions they Christianized on others as it once was.

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