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Xmas is OK
Entry 1135, on 2009-12-26 at 18:58:57 (Rating 2, Religion)
I am often accused of being hypocritical when I celebrate Christmas when it is well known that I am an atheist and have little respect for Christian dogma and tradition. Yes, its true, I try to avoid taking part in any religious activities (and that's not just Christian) but I don't really see Christmas as being a Christian event any more.
Despite the name Christmas really isn't a religious celebration. At least its not here in New Zealand (which is not a particularly religious country). I haven't gone out of my way to look for religious aspects of Christmas but I haven't tried to avoid them either. The only mentions of this I have seen are a facetious reference to the "reason for the season" being eating, drinking and buying lots of stuff, a short newspaper article describing church attendance, and a few traditional Christmas songs.
I did try at one point to wish people a "happy solstice" or "happy holidays" but I have since decided that "merry Christmas" is OK because very few people really see that as having any religious significance any more.
Another significant point is that its silly to deny that Christianity was (and still is to a lesser extent) an important part of our society. This says nothing about how true it is or even how relevant it is today but it certainly was the most important aspect of life in the western world in the past and that has significantly shaped our lives today. Trying to deny or ignore this fact just makes you look like an idiot!
So Xmas is OK with me. Any excuse to have a holiday from work, eat lots of nice stuff and drink lots of alcohol is good. And living in the southern hemisphere means I also get to enjoy summer (at least theoretically because the New Zealand weather is so unpredictable).
Comment 14 (2593) by OJB on 2010-01-28 at 11:54:33: (view earlier comments)
OK, maybe we're just debating over semantics here. Let's just say that everyone (probably) is aware of the Christian origin of Christmas (even though it was "borrowed"). I don't think many people would deny the link with Jesus' (alleged - oops sorry!) birth but that isn't the primary reason people enjoy the day today.
According to the surveys and my own experience, most people would say its importance to them is for the gifts, the time off work, the getting together with family, summer holidays, etc, as opposed to spending time in church or reflecting deeply on the (real) meaning of Jesus' teaching (whether he existed or not).
So if the "meaning" is the original reason the holiday was adopted by most western countries then I would say, yes, its because of the Christian origin. If "meaning" means what the significance is today then I would say its more prosaic and not religious at all (to most).
Regarding your point with "alleged": its just a habit I've got into. It really annoys the fundies! They cannot even comprehend the possibility of denying the non-historicity of Jesus, yet the evidence for his existence is remarkably weak.
Comment 15 (2594) by SBFL on 2010-01-28 at 12:13:02:
I never said nor implied that recognising Christmas as a Christian festival meant "spending time in church or reflecting deeply on the (real) meaning of Jesus' teaching".. This is good practice for Christians all during the year, all during their lives, but not a specific trait for Christmas, let alone for NZers as a whole. In fact putting aside the history and heritage of Christmas, is arguable that some of the things you mentioned are entirely within with the meaning of Christmas - "the gifts, the time off work, the getting together with family, summer holidays, etc,". Much of this behaviour is entirely consistent with the Christmas spirit and I mean in a Christian sense. In fact, it is this type of realisation of Christian ideals that leads me to oppose any changes to the Easter trading laws. Not for of any religious observance reasons, but because it stifles the practice of the ideals said faith promotes. Now many non-Christians won't recognise this as Christian behaviour - and rightly so because it isn't in any way unique to Christianity - but for me it is the practice that is more important, not the appearance.
Comment 16 (2595) by OJB on 2010-01-28 at 20:42:54:
Oh fine, so that makes it east then: Christianity is all about doing the sorts of things people want to do anyway and being a nice person, not about what Jesus says in the Bible: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26)
Comment 17 (2596) by SBFL on 2010-01-29 at 12:25:05:
And so the tangential OJB strikes again!!
Comment 18 (2597) by OJB on 2010-01-29 at 14:11:22:
I just like to make smart comments like that when people state (or imply) that everything about Christianity is so happy and nice! Maybe, to make Christmas a more Christian festival, we should go around telling our family how much we hate them. Its what Jesus would do! :) Please note the smiley, which I have included this time!
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