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Do you celebrate Christmas? Why or why not?

I give presents and decorate a tree, but mark the occasion less than I did in dark midwinter Britain. But in celebrating it's more a recognition of the holiday's deep pre-Christian roots in a worldview that celebrated the natural world than it is any adherence to the worship of the god of a repressive (and at times violent) church hierarchy.

moNOtheist 7 May 14
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In England, I was always taught that the idea of hi-jacking the biggest pagan festival of the year, and overlaying it with some nefarious Christian message or other in a crude attempt to subvert it's meaning, was a desperate admission by the Roman Emperor of the (now) Roman Church's total failure to truly win over the hearts-and-minds of the Celtic Savages' who had learned the wisdom of payinglip-service' to whatever Rome wanted, and so staying alive!
The choice of "excuse" to supplant paganism was limited, the whole concept of Christianity being woven around his Death/return to the Land-of-the-Living/and subsequent Ascension! Those aspects were well-known, oft re-told, and even documented in part! But precious little was known about his date of birth, so that seemed to fit the bill, also fitting-in nicely with the whole Midwinter Solstice business of the fragility of re-birth of the year/world/life, and so of hope! BUT this was a PAGAN Festival, spread over 12-nights to encourage the successful regeneration of the Planet, and all life on it! It never was a Christian feast in it's own right, just a sloppy effort to supplant the old religion. It is very EASY to celebrate and enjoy WITHOUT carols, hymns, angels, mangers and sundry tacky plastic barn-yard recreations! NB.-the Holly & the Ivy are ALSO Pagan!

You're spot on. The expanding Christian church in the years following the retreat and eventual disappearance of Rome in northern and western Europe was built in part on the Christianization of pagan holiday places and holy days - Christmas, Easter, and Halloween are three examples. It also explains there are so many pools in Ireland named for Catholic saints that had originally been sacred sites of worship for the Celts, and even today it's possible to see in English churchyards an ancient yew tree (they can live for centuries) that predates the church building - the site was once of religious significance because of the yew and co-opted by the construction of a Christian place of worship. Later, with their power firmly established, the Church began a systematic program of demonization, inventing a horrific Devil figure unlike anything found in the Bible (in which Satan is merely the "opponent", almost as in a court of law) and persecuting anyone suspected - or accused - of following the now-demonized old pagan to the point of burning them alive.

It was a practical festival as well. At some point before winter sets in you have to decide what livestock your going to keep and what gets butchered. This would be done at the solstice. After which there would be a whole load of food to be eaten so.... Lets have a party

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Christmas is a great time for family to get together and perhaps invite that poor soul from work who has no family. Plus it's the only time my sons will allow them to take a photo of them all

'But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round.. as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys'

@moNOtheist Judging by the arguments that many families suffer at this time I'm not so sure good will even extends to family. We actually spend xmas with some really good friends that we think of as family.

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Being an English European I never could fully understand the complexeties of life in the USA, and the sheer extent of God-bothering in some States. Especially as we know that, after a year or two as underpaid and exploited relgious refugee immigrants in the NetherLands, the Plymouth Bretheren made their way back over to England where their agent had commissioned a couple of old ships in Plymouth for their reluctant and desperate flight to `The New World' in search of Religious Freedom, & the right to worship their God, as they saw fit!
So it does seem somewhat hypoctitical to many of us that the US should be SO intolerant of free-thinking!

I think most Brits are amazed and confounded by the extent that organized plays in life here, not least in politics - despite the restrictions imposed by the Constitution. Separation of church and state, anyone?

The Plymouth brethren were pretty uptight when it came to other people's religious freedoms

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I think Tim Minchin says it better than I could.

thanks for this David. I love Tim Minchin. I've seen this before of course. I love that he can make cutting social statements that sound so touching. Plus I'm an Aussie too, so at xmas I drink white wine in the sun!!!

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For me so much of what were the joys of Christmas began to disappear when I moved from England to southern California - the long, slow winter twilights and even longer dark nights, the twinkle of frost under street lights, brass band carols in the cold night air (in fact, any carols - like the hymns we sang at the daily morning assembly, they carry within them even now the sound of Christmastime - hereabouts they're an endangered species, the American preference seeming to be for Christmas hits like "Little Drummer Boy" and "I'll Be Home For Christmas" ), Boxing Day... I think the truth is that December 25th is a children's festival and its return each year the chance to revisit our own childhood.

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We used to celebrate it when the children were little, mostly so they wouldn't feel weird and excluded when all their friends were into it. You can make it a fun secular observance if you minimize the shallow commercial nature of it.

Now that we have an empty nest and our children basically don't visit us for that holiday, we pretty much ignore it, to the point that we scarcely register its passing. It's something we're aware of (how could you not be because it's all around you), but then again I'm aware of a lot of things I don't particularly pay attention to, like Cinco de Mayo and the World Series and the Kentucky Derby and Take Your Kid To Work Day and so forth.

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Oy vey, I celebrate bubkis! My folks were both first generation American. My dad was raised Greek Orthodox (like my grandfather) though his mom was German Lutheran. My mother was raised Orthodox Jewish. By the time they raised us kids, my grandparents had all died so the religious aspects had disappeared. We were immersed in culture without religious connotation. My twin bed, wedged between my older and younger sisters beds was ideal for Christmas. I was the one who had the perfect view of the Christmas tree year after year through the whole season. In the evenings we'd light the menorah. Years and years of crisis later and suddenly my life has shifted gears to a pleasant enjoyable existence and I've found some peace.
And what do I celebrate? Seasons and Mother Nature and thunderstorms and flowers coming up in my garden and digging in the Earth. I think I get where you're coming from when you say you celebrate the Natural World.

Bubkis - such a versatile Jewish holiday 😉 I love that you had a Christmas tree and a menorah 🙂

@moNOtheist lol my bubkis is probably the equivalent of Festivus for the restivus (Seinfeld). 🙂 Yes! We had a Christmas tree and a menorah and it was a rude awakening when I found that the world doesn't embrace that. 😉

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At times violent, what an underestimate.

I was being diplomatic - between calling down the slaughter of Crusades, burning thousands of accused witches, and (a little more recently) molesting untold numbers of children, the Catholic church has done more than its share to create a corner of Hell here on earth.

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Yes. I like the gifts and spending time with family.

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If someone gives me a gift I always say thank you. .......But I don't gift or send cards. ....But I give my children and grandchildren checks for the New Year.

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I don't think of myself as celebrating Xmas as much as participating in parts of it. Particularly since the parts I participate in are all the Pagan parts -- decorating my home with pine branches, sending out secular-themed greeting cards, buying small gifts for close friends and family. And, of course, baking like a maniac because what else is a winter festival about than stuffing your face as much as you can in a time of scarcity, before what few foods are left rot? Even if scarcity is mostly historical for people like me.

Baking aside, you and me both - most definitely 🙂

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I enjoyed Christmas when my children were young. It was fun to give them presents and have an extended family Christmas dinner. My children are grown and my parents are gone so now I no longer celebrate Christmas. There is no reason to. The Jesus story is a myth and there is nothing for me to observe.

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It's a good excuse to spend time with those I love.

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I celebrate a Holiday of sharing with friends and family, not the religious aspect. What I really don't celebrate is all those fucking Christmas songs from November first till the middle of January.

I love the songs. They are the few songs that (almost) everyone knows the words. But I do agree with you about Christmas songs in stores and malls. It feels manipulative.

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No we don't now - we used to have a 'Christmas' for the sake of the kids when they were young and we slowly weaned them off the religious aspects of it that the school was indoctrinating the kids with.

Now we just enjoy the break from working for the man.

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I do and dont. I only do it for my daughter I don't do the church thing but we do unwrap gifts. Basically she does i don't get anything

The festival of children 🙂

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We don't decorate much. if I do, it's for winter, not for any religious holiday. We do presents because of family.

When we adopt kids, we don't plan on playing santa.

Despite being a derivation of Saint Nicholas (San Nicholas), Santa Clause is perhaps as far removed from Christianity as one can get! Flying through the skies on a magic sleigh, selectively distributing the fruits-of-Capitalism following hidden surveillance of behavioural practices? To mention nothing of Santa's little helpers, magical, other-wordly creatures?

@UncleAlan I'm not lying to my kids and claiming magic.

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We do. It's a great time for the kids. We don't go all out though

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We have food, lots of food, and lots of visitors.
Because the people who come to my place are estranged from their families, there is nothing else to do and nowhere else to go.
Nothing xmassy about it though. No gifts and such.

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I love making cookies, putting up lights, tree, - yes about eight bins of christmas stuff. I don't do the gift thing but I do the food and bright lights and I like christmas songs. I have family and others who don't have a place to go to over. Joy Joy to all. Heck I even put up my beloved manger scene that I received in childhood. I was also one of those atheist in the pew for 35 of my fifty years of life and raised my daughter in the liberalish luthren faith. What was an atheist in in North Dakota to do.

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We always celebrated Christmas (especially being half Jewish) growing up; but at this stage of my life, I don't really celebrate Christmas or any other holiday. My mom and I go out for a fancy dinner or get together with my brother and sister-in-law.

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To me, Christmas is a time of giving, being with family and friends, and remembering to be a bit kinder to everyone. I think we all could use a reminder about kindness once in a while.

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Christmas has lost all its original meaning. Its all about buy buy buy. We don't celebrate in this manner.

Which rather begs the question of what was its original meaning, given that it's at the intersection of Saturnalia, the Kalends, the winter solstice, and Yule - and December 25th is the birthday of Mithras, the lieutenant of the ancient Persian god of light, Ahura Mazda, who became a major religion within the Roman empire (indeed, had it not been restricted to men, chances are that Mithraism would have become the religion adopted in the fourth century to strengthen the fragmenting rule of late emperors) - where Santa Claus meets Belsnickle, Odin, and the Wild Man.

@moNOtheist a poetic summary that begs question upon question, do you do (research teach) what you've written for a living or a hobby, (so to speak)? Fun, loaded read in one paragraph. I am now a follower of moNOtheist! (love that we are called 'followers' here with its religious connotations).

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@moNOtheist By the way according to the old testament ( Jeremiah 10:1-5) If you bring a decorated tree in to your house at the winter solstice YOU GOIN' TO HELL SINNER!
But then again what doesn't send you to hell in that book of filthy crap?

I'm wondering whether you actually read the old testament yourself? Or are you just regurgitating crap you heard along the way? Cause you kind of sound like you're regurgitating crap heard along the way.

Just sayin'.

@crazycurlz
It was a joke.
And yes in my household growing up reading the bible OT and NT every night was mandatory.
So yes I have read the bible more times than I care to remember.

@LenHazell53 OH funny guy. well, then, nice to meet you! 😉

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A time for family, a time to celebrate the turning of a new year a reason to for a little while contemplate the good in one another.
People had been doing this in December for literally thousands of years, until the Godbotherers hijacked in the name of their Zombie demigod so why not?

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