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27 December, 2010

Another Year in the War on Christmas

Many religious bloggers and opinion pages are continuing to propagate the "War of Christmas" (that they actually started when they found out there were other holidays around this time of year that people decided to recognize by saying, "Happy Holidays" instead of only greeting Christians with best wishes for the season). They point out that even atheists celebrate Christmas. Oh my goodness! This must mean something for their side! They say ignorant things like, "How can they celebrate Christmas without thinking of the person who gave the holiday it's name?"

Excuse me, but Christ didn't give the holiday its name, (it's not even really his birthday) the Catholic Church did, and it's only its current name. Before that, Saturn gave it its name: Saturnalia. Before that, Isis. All on December 25, all celebrating the same principle of birth/rebirth of the seasons in the form of a God or Goddess. Celebrating these changes was important to agricultural societies who relied completely on this "Wheel" (or, traditionally in ancient N. Europe, "Yule") of the seasons to keep turning. From Yule logs to carolers, to decorating trees, these "Christian" traditions have outlasted the religions they originated from.

So how can an atheist celebrate Christmas without Christ? The same way a Christian decorates a tree without paying tribute to the Druids. Christmas time for me, personally, is a warm break from the coldness of winter, a time to share with family, a time to be a little bit kinder to each other because we're all facing the hard, cold months ahead. It's a gathering of humanity in the spirit of sharing and caring. It has as much to do with a two-thousand year old legendary figure for me as Saturnalia has to to do with those attending midnight mass. So this War on Christmas? It's all in the heads of the Christians who not only want the state to recognize Christianity as an official religion, but insist that we all celebrate our holidays the way they want us to. So I say, Happy Holidays to everyone. Hope everyone has a wonderful New Year and may there be many bright spots as we head into the coldest and darkest months of the year.

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