Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Secular Merry Christmas

atheist holiday Secular holiday christmas parenting humanist homeschool blog atheist skeptical freethinking humanist parentin  Johng

My son John has been begging and begging me to write a post for this blog on the subject of Atheist Christmas. He wants me to tell you that atheists focus on family and friends for Christmas.  We love eating, playing games, exchanging presents, and sharing in the joy of the day.  John wants people to know that our holidays are so full of love and laughter that he seriously thinks about sharing our traditions with his children of the future.

Apparently John thinks that there are people out there who don't think that atheists can or should celebrate Christmas.  My son is convinced that there are people in the world who think that this part of the year is special only to Christians and who think that everyone else can blow.  In fact, John is concerned that Christians actually think that atheists are shallow and have a hatred in their (our) hearts for the holiday.  It disturbs him to think that people out there misunderstand atheism so much and he hopes that, one day, the world will embrace the secular values of kindness, reason, and world peace.  THEN how lovely will our holiday be?!

Christmas Time in Brisbane

But I'm sure that plenty of people in the world are capable of thinking for themselves, capable of not having someone from a pulpit define the world for them, and plenty of people who do not look down on others out of fear and unkindness. I have the hope that more and more people are courageously breaking out of the bonds of religious dogma that keeps a tight definition about what is OK.

And so, with John's encouragement, 
I wish you all 
a very Merry Christmas!

If you enjoyed this post you might also read: 
Thoughts and Humanism
Or you might enjoy:  My Atheist Parenting Blog
Or this one:  Guest Post:  Why All of the Santa Hate?


  1. We celebrate Christmas with a focus on being with family. Religion has never come in to it, though we do explain why people celebrate it with religion as a focus. I am raising my children to be kind, compassionate, inclusive and accepting of differences and like you said, secular values of kindess, reason and world peace :) It's really so easy to be kind and show compassion!

    1. i know that your children will benefit from the wonderful compassion in your heart, Veganopoulous!

  2. Haha.. So, it's not even know for sure which YEAR Jesus was born, so how do they know the DAY??? "Christmas" is nothing but the pagan winter olstice celebration, and everyone can celebrate that fact!!! We sure do, and have tons of fun with it. I love how Lily calls it the "celebration after the last goody bag from the calendar" :-)

  3. Hi Karen,
    Happy Christmas!
    This one is for John if you'll allow me:
    Hi John,
    Happy Christmas from a fellow atheist family. First I just want you to know that there are thousands if not millions of us out here celebrating Christmas as atheists, focussing on family and fun. Second, I want you to know that slowly but surely the world is becoming a place where more and more people understand what atheists are truly about, and so many of us have your mum and her blog to thank for playing such a big part in that. So this Christmas when you are enjoying your family time, please do us a favour and give her a big global hug from us all around the globe.
    Thanks and Happy Holidays!
    Eugenia Coy

    1. Eugenia, you have moved me to tears. And John John is happily hugging me and saying, "I told you so, Mom!!!!!"

      Thank you so very much. This means a great deal to me.
      Happy Holidays to you and yours!

  4. Karen, your son has incredible depth for his age! Thank you so much for writing this and sharing his thoughts about the holiday.
    We, too, focus on Love at Christmas time--love for family, friends, and giving to others. Especially this year, we are putting a huge focus on the giving, the random kindness aspect, we're focusing more on the solstice, and we're doing a lot of homemade gifts for people. We like to call it giving from the heart. I was actually writing about this the other day on FB; it was this heartfelt expression of my lack of enthusiasm for the holidays this year, and how I am using family, friends, giving, and Love as a horizon to focus on for navigating the holiday season. And I used the dreaded term "Xmas" once in my writing. Someone actually commented with one word: "Christmas". I guess this person was SO offended that I didn't write "Christmas" that this was all they focused on and completely missed the feelings and point of my post.
    Love, kindness, and Christmas/Xmas are not sole properties of the Christian religion. In fact, it's my observation that these regularly appear absent in the behaviors of followers of Christianity.

    1. B, ESPECIALLY TO YOU, I send out ten thousand hugs.

  5. Karen, I visited the site after you promoted it on Facebook and found this article. First let me say that I appreciate that you emphasize love and kindness and peace. Those are wonderful attributes to believe and instill in your family and children. It will make the world a better place. Thank you for that. However, the term secular Christmas or atheist Christmas is an oxymoron. By origin and definition, Christmas is the celebration of god sending his messiah in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. It doesn’t matter if it is true, or what day it is, or if it was co-opted from a pagan holiday. That’s what it is. And that’s why Christians celebrate it. You can’t redefine it. And none of the origins of Christmas are anything that can be celebrated by an atheist, no matter how kind and loving. Atheists can however participate in certain aspects of Christmas. If perhaps I believed that the founding of America was wrong and that it should still be a part of Great Brittan, I could not celebrate the 4th of July. I could have a barbeque and eat hotdogs and shoot fireworks, but I would not be celebrating the 4th of July, because that holiday is based on a historical event and the meaning of that historical event. To celebrate it is to embrace its meaning. It’s the same with Christmas. You can do many of the things Christians do on Christmas and have a great time doing it, but you are not celebrating Christmas. This is a distinction which can’t be ignored.

    As it concerns John that Christians think atheists are shallow and have hatred in their hearts, so it concerns me that atheists and John might think Christians are shallow and have hatred in their hearts for atheists. There is an underlying presence in your post that comes across as disrespect or perhaps extends pity for Christians which actually diminishes the value which should be given to all people. There are plenty of Christians who are free-thinking, capable of thinking for themselves, who don’t have someone else from a pulpit tell us what to believe, who don’t look down on others out of fear and unkindness. It concerns me that you believe Christians are in bonds of religious dogma. Christians believe what they believe because they believe it is true as much as you are an atheist because you believe it is true. In fact, they find it quite liberating. Your dogma of atheism restricts your beliefs as much as my belief in Jesus restricts mine. Atheism is not the free-thinking state of mind you consider it to be. Your conclusions about life, death, and beyond are limited to what atheism allows, and no more. Your tight definition of atheism says certain things are not okay. It’s not okay to believe in god, or Jesus as messiah, or life after death. That it’s not okay to be a Christian. That it’s not okay to believe certain things are sin. There are Christians and atheists who have done things that are unkind and hateful and do not promote peace. But for there to be true, all-encompassing peace, atheists have to come to the conclusion, and embrace it, that it is okay for people to be people of faith, and let it impact their lives accordingly.
    I really do appreciate you and your family. I hope there can continue to be dialogue because simply talking to people who agree with you does nothing to promote the kind of mutual respect you and I desire. We need to dialogue with people who disagree with us.
    Wishing you and yours peace during Christmas and always.
    Dan Brouk

    1. I appreciate your post, Dan, and as has been true in the past, I still respectfully disagree about almost ALL of the assumptions that you put forth.

      You still begin with a false premise and when you begin with a false premise you will always come to a false conclusion. I disagree with your HISTORY in general, DEFINITIONS of words that belong to all of us, and BELIEFS about what you think that I think. I have to admit that I find it ironic that in your first paragraph you find it completely comfortable that the church has co opted and redefined this time of year as a Christian history while in the second paragraph you bristle at my decision to redefine the holiday for my own family.

      The holidays of Independence Day and Christmas are not comparable. The 4th of July is a civic holiday that applies to Americans; it is not celebrated anywhere else in the world. Christmas is a NAME of one holiday celebrated in December. There are MANY traditions with December celebration days and I choose to accept and support all of them. Why? Because I BELIEVE in the variety of deities? Of course not.

      Because our culture has a tradition of celebration at the end of December. As it happens, I enjoy it that it is my freedom to question all traditions and to make of them what makes sense in the lives of my family members.


      John is a VERY thinking child, Dan. He has read and witnessed many things and has had some very valid observations. He has experienced multiple, multiple, multiple events where believers were completely awful to him specifically because of his skepticism. He would also be the first person to remind himself that behavior of one or some people does not reflect on an entire group. Some of his most beloved friends are Christian or believers of some faith.

      I have written many different replies here, but the one final thing I will say here is in response to this statement that you say that you believe:

      "Your conclusions about life, death, and beyond are limited to what atheism allows, and no more. Your tight definition of atheism says certain things are not okay."

      Here, Dan, you are quite wrong and I think that this is your basic illogical premise.
      ATHEISM does not ALLOW anything.
      ATHEISM is a CONCLUSION, not a belief system.
      It can mean absolutely ANYTHING to ANYONE who does not believe in a deity.


      I want to not respond because I don't find debate useful at all. I will never be a believer again. I spent decades of my life in church and after many years of reading and research I slowly felt the light of reason break through the tight tight bonds of the church's dogma that fought against reason in my brain. I will never again experience that churchy guilt. I will never live within the bonds of having someone or something else tell me what is OK. I will never again spent my time with judgmental people who claim to be CORRECT or SUPERIOR in any way. I will never again allow a person to tell me that I am not TRULY happy, or TRULY caring, or TRULY celebrating Christmas. That is absurd and that is why a debate is completely pointless.

      If you choose to read my posts in this light, you will always feel upset by my writing. But what I actually wrote was this:

      "But I'm sure that plenty of people in the world are capable of thinking for themselves, capable of not having someone from a pulpit define the world for them, and plenty of people who do not look down on others out of fear and unkindness. I have the hope that more and more people are courageously breaking out of the bonds of religious dogma that keeps a tight definition about what is OK."

      You may have absolutely no agreement with this and that is OK. I am fine with how your family lives and I love all of you. I don't expect or require that you understand my point of view.

      As you are a family friend, Dan, and as you offer your truths so definitively, I feel it respectful to write this response to you.

  6. So true! I think there are lots of different "reasons for the season" and to each his own. We celebrate winter solstice and christmas even though we're not christians. It's a time for us to reflect on nature and each other and a time for giving and merrymaking. And of course lots of love and peace to go along with:)


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