You can celebrate Christmas in a charitable manner without giving anything to religious charities - there are secular charities out there if you look. You can find out more about which cookies we are using or switch them off in settings. But here in America, where 76% of the country is Christian, non-Christians have adopted the most secular elements of Christmas, like Santa, Christmas trees, snowmen, stockings, etc. "But those who have a good knowledge of history know that it’s the Christians who stole Christmas from the pagans, and it’s a celebration that people have had around the winter solstice, really. The Christmas holiday is a festive time, full of joy and celebration for Christians around the world, but for the secular population, it’s an awkward period during the year. In an age that professes diversity and the tolerant expression of all opinions, only one expression--the expression of Christians should emphasize that such disfavor is actually secular intolerance. There exists a wide range of secular Christmas stories, told in popular music, on television, and in the cinema, that are told about the Christian holiday of Christmas, that may be based on or allegorize the biblical Christian mythology of Christmas, as the birth of Jesus, but not necessarily. Austin Cline, a former regional director for the Council for Secular Humanism, writes and lectures extensively about atheism and agnosticism. Rico Tice: As London has become an increasingly secular city, I have come across three basic attitudes related to faith in Christ: Christians are weird, Christianity is untrue, and Christianity is irrelevant. This post may contain affiliate links. To begin to answer the question, we have to first understand that Christmas and Jesus’ birthday are not synonymous. Secular Advent Calendar Ideas. Think roast turkey, chocolate yule logs, gingerbread, hot chocolate, mince pies, mulled wine, and fruitcake! People spend a lot of money to decorate their homes for Christmas. No one celebrates every possible aspect of Christmas: some hang mistletoe, some don't; some drink eggnog, some don't; some have a creche, some don't. There’s no rulebook that makes cookie-frosting or movie-watching in pajamas religious, so take new leaps into secular Christmas traditions that wouldn’t be if it weren’t for the pandemic in place. There's plenty to choose from, though the Christian Right would have people believe that there is only one "definitive" set of traditions which represent a "real" Christmas. Culture, though, is more than just religion, and this means that there is more to Christmas than just religion, even though it's a day ostensibly set aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Christian savior. This is what we should expect from a cultural holiday because religion is an important aspect of culture. 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For instance, think of a movement like “Keep Christ in Christmas,” which aims to reassert the prominence of religious … While the birth of Jesus Christ is a primary aspect of Christmas for practicing Christians, many of the traditions associated with the holiday -- including the Christmas tree -- are not rooted in Christian religious practices, and a rising number of Americans will have secular celebrations. The holiday already included many elements borrowed from other religions, which made it easy to celebrate Christmas without reference to religion. But, before they were attached to the religious holiday, it was traditional in Germany to give a home to an evergreen during the Christmas season. “I like the hybrid tradition we have,” Lim admits. Everyone has traditions which are more meaningful than others, and most create some of their own "traditions." The Problem with Christmas as a Religious Holiday . Christmas is a holiday that was originally meant to be religious. This doesn't mean that charity is exclusively religious, though. Most people assume Christmas is a faith-based holiday and, as such, can't be celebrated in a nonreligious way. Although many go to church as a family, there are plenty of things people can do as families that are completely secular: dinners, gift exchanges, ice skating, volunteering at a soup kitchen, holiday shows, etc. Anyone can cook and feast! From the earliest centuries, Christmas was not merely a private affair for homes and parishes. Christians obtain grace from reflecting on the miracle of the Incarnation but they have given the event called Christmas as a glorious gift to the world. And to reduce Christian feast days like Christmas to the same level as secular holidays is an injustice to Christ the King. In this article, I will be discussing a few ways to celebrate a secular Christmas. But, like gift-giving, food is not a Christian tradition. Posted on Nov 27, 2010. Is Christmas a Religious or Secular Holiday? When Congress declared Christmas a National Holiday, in 1870, Christmas ceased being a strictly religious observance and became a secular holiday. Indeed, by participating in the commercialization of Christmas, you're helping to diminish its religious aspects. There's nothing about Christmas presents which is inherently religious or Christian. "My secular family celebrates Christmas by decorating our house & tree with lights, ornaments, Santa's and snowmen. Christmas trees–evergreens decorated with tinsel and ornaments–are icons of the holiday. Large numbers of people have family gatherings during the Christmas holidays. The result is that everyone picks and chooses certain aspects of Christmas to celebrate and others to ignore. Helps integrate into Irish life. One may not get to sit down at the dinner table, go ice skating, or wander around a holiday market because of the restrictions in place, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make room for new household traditions. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. My Christmas primarily means family. History of American Religion:1600 to 2017. Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings. You could make the Christmas holidays an annual family reunion to strengthen familial ties. The least religious aspect of Christmas is probably the one which involves the most time, effort, and money: shopping. Should Atheists Ignore Christmas or Celebrate It? While in Christianity Christmas maintains certain religious icons that help school boys and girls remember the story of the birth of Christ, had Tiny Tim attempted to recite the Christian myth he likely would have earned a swift stroke of the hickory stick for his ignorance. You can donate your time or money to a charity of your choice without feeding any religion. The Christmas season owns an entire line of festive foods. It's doubtful anyone ever really celebrated Christmas in this manner — it looks more like the manufactured nostalgia people create in order to feel better about their past. Secular decoration options are abundant precisely because there are significant non-religious aspects to Christmas. In fact, significant portions of Christmas celebrations today don't originate in Christianity at all. Waves like this have broken on us before, and will again. Given the prevalence of Christian culture in much of the West, it is hard for Christians to understand the argument for declaring Christmas to be a secular rather than a religious observation. It looks wonderful, and feels nice and cozy during the cold winter months. Christmas is the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, which, in Western Christian Churches, is held annually on 25 December.For centuries, it has been the subject of several reformations, both religious and secular. The Christmas season has developed an entire line of foods — mostly sweets — that only appear during this time of year. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again. The only way for the gifts to have any religious meaning is if you personally invest them with one; otherwise, the gifts are simply of the sort which you might give other times during the year. This year family gatherings have been put on hold due to the pandemic; it’s a massive change for individuals that flock to their childhood homes to celebrate this cultural holiday alongside their families. Although many go to church as a family, there are plenty of things people can do as families that are completely secular: dinners, gift exchanges, ice skating, volunteering at a soup kitchen, holiday shows, etc. It has been said, ad nauseum, that secular traditions such as Christmas trees, Santa Clause, and even the word “ Christmas ” should be condemned and abolished by Christians because they distract and detract from the true meaning of Christ’s birth. In contrast, Catholic historians give credit to St. Boniface, a 7th… Once again, preparing food holds no religious denomination; celebrating this time of year with homemade meals is a secular activity. “I know there are different ways to celebrate Christmas that are all acceptable and not mainstream. In fact, “X” is the Greek letter, Chi–which, in the olden days, was often … I go around collecting all the books we have in the house with a Christmas theme and put them in a basket for the kids to choose when this comes up on the Advent calendar. One of the most common myths is that ALL Christmas songs, carols or hymns are in the public domainand don’t require licensing or permission. Christians have a history of stealing other holidays and forcing people to convert, and they still do. (The Founders used the terms “religion” and conscience” interchangeably. 93 percent of people will do that, so secularizing the holiday has been good for business. Well-wishing has no religious ties. Say Merry Christmas. It's sometimes easier to get people to accept an ideology being imposed on them if they are told that it's "tradition" and the way things used to be rather than the truth: that it's a just a simulacrum of reality based upon an ideological preference for certain power structures. Does the greeting “Happy Holidays” have its roots in secularism? “Xmas” is not a dirty word. To me it's a secular holiday, and its importance in my life is unwavering. There’s nothing that puts a smile on our face like a stuffed-to-the-brim stocking with little trinkets or a neatly wrapped gift box housing a wishlist favourite we’ve had our eye on. There is also nothing intrinsically religious about Christmas parties; in fact, many parties which occur in offices and schools are entirely secular because of the religious diversity of those who attend. On the really secular side of Christmas, the giving of gifts from Santa, the change is even more dramatic. While it’s commonly considered a secular and more inclusive alternative to Merry Christmas, the term Happy Holidays actually has Christian origins!. There’s no rulebook that makes cookie-frosting or movie-watching in pajamas religious, so take new leaps into secular Christmas traditions that wouldn’t be if it weren’t for the pandemic in place. Melanie Romero is a creative writer and college student based in Orange County, California. It’s a misconception that could prove costly for churches unless they understand that many Christmas tunes are copyrighted and owned by secular music publishers. Christmas is not a secular holiday. Babylon Radio - Multicultural community. We just chose not to participate in the traditional commercialized way. Not to mention, the way Christmas is often celebrated tends to be more cultural and commercial than religious. For many, this admittedly strange — almost paradoxical — relationship between the sacred and secular presents a serious dilemma around the holidays. The irony is that secular Christmas was supposed to be a solution for a … Thankfully, Quebec seems to have secured a deal with COVID-19 to cut its incubation period by half at Christmas time. Gift-Giving One of the long-standing traditions of Christmas has been to wrap and exchange gifts, and that custom doesn’t need to be forgotten when celebrating a secular Christmas. If you're looking for an excuse to have a party, this is as as good as any. So I say “Merry Christmas!” Or “Happy Christmas Holidays” is okay; but definitely, you won’t hear me say “Happy Holidays” while standing in front of a nativity scene or a Christmas tree. Add garlands to the tree, such as ones made of tinsel, popcorn, or cranberries, by wrapping them around and around the tree. And I use this one more than once throughout the month. A Secular Christmas: 5 Festive Ways to Celebrate. Now, increasingly, I am also seeing a fourth attitude: Christianity is intolerant. So, for us, Christmas is neither neutral nor secular. You can read more about the Christmas Tree as a secular icon here. Saying Merry Christmas is not an assault on “inclusiveness” as the secular left might have you think. For me, Christmas has always been a secular occasion. When she’s not overworking herself to meet a deadline, she can be found drinking an iced chai at her local organic café, making sufganiyot from scratch, or collecting paperbacks. Simple and Easy Procedure to Become an Atheist, Hitler, Nationalism, and Positive Christianity, An Atheist's View of the Christian Right's Agenda and Beliefs, War in the Name of Atheism - Theology Myths, The Relationship Between Technology and Religion, Valentine's Day: Religious Origins and Background. Some people do celebrate Christmas … 20 great secular Christmas songs | Music | herald-review.com This is why this holiday can be so secular … This does not mean that there are no religious elements to Christmas — on the contrary, there are many religious aspects to Christmas. Little, if any of it, is religious in nature, so celebrating this time of year with special foods and meals is an inherently secular activity. I grew up in an unaffiliated household. This website uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best user experience possible. In fact, historically, they really have nothing in common. Gifts are just little (or big) tokens of appreciation for partnerships that have lasted the test of time, or as a sign of respect. We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website. My mother is Catholic, though she didn’t practice for most of my childhood. Many historians believe Christmas tree traditions were adapted by Christians to convert pagans. Christmas is a cultural rather than a religious holiday. What Do Atheists Do During Christmas Holidays? It’s important to note how food can bridge the distance between two cultures: Jewish people, who celebrate Hanukkah, oftentimes go to Chinese eateries, since it’s the only type of establishment conveniently open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! Although there are lots of religious decorations out there, you can also find plenty of secular decorations. Although this year family members might not come over to celebrate, that does not mean that family traditions need go out the door! Participating in the secular We give what money we would have spent on Christmas presents to organizations that others have a lovely Christmas. I never stopped loving Christmas, though. A legal religious holiday in a nation dedicated to freedom of religion and conscience is a contradiction. Put your favorite ornaments on the tree, such as Christmas balls, stars, or really any small trinket. While Christians attend Mass, retell the story of Jesus’s birth, and set their Nativity figurines for all to see, those who are secular, mixed-faith, or from a different religion entirely must rely on their own traditions and customs to keep the holiday cheer alive. Celebrating Cultures, Promoting Integration. But secular Christmas is just religious Christmas with cuter clothes and better PR. How’s that for a secular Christmas meal? People have lots of parties and family gatherings around this date as well, and it's even more secular than Christmas. In this article, I will be discussing a few ways to celebrate a secular Christmas. There's nothing the least bit Christian about Christmas shopping, so if you're someone who actually enjoys the sights, sounds and smells of shopping at Christmastime, you can do so without wondering if you're just giving in to popular religious celebration. In the midst of the pandemic, where families are separated and large gatherings are being cancelled, sending one another our best wishes for the coming new year is all that we can do. So if you like decorating the house generally or just occasionally for the sake of change, you have lots of non-religious choices: Santa, reindeer, evergreens, lights, mistletoe, etc. This would drive most people batty and it's not the sort of Christmas that anyone celebrates. Christmas as a holiday didn’t even come around for hundreds of years after the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We don’t begrudge other’s secular celebration of the season. Christmas was originally a pagan holiday stolen by Christians to get the pagans to convert. One may not get to sit down at the dinner table, go ice skating, or wander around a holiday market because of the restrictions in place, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make room for new household traditions. There needs to be room for a secular Christmas as well. You don't have to be religious to celebrate the holidays, and you most certainly don't have to be religious to be a … In effect, they would like to freeze Christmas as an idealized postcard version of the holiday, circa 1955, with "White Christmas" playing on an endless loop in the background. Every household celebrates Christmas (if at all) differently, so it’s important to note that, although religion might be the foundation of the holiday, Jesus is not always the reason for the season. To finish the tree, place a tree topper at the tip, such as an angel or star. If you want to celebrate a secular Christmas, just ignore the religious options. Subject: Re:secular Christmas is an oxymoron Anonymous I have some Christian friends who don't believe in celebrating the birth of Jesus on December 25 because the date is incorrect and the celebration is too pagan. Since so many people have time off during these holidays, it's a good excuse to visit and spend time with family. Easter eggs and Halloween were originally pagan traditions. The evergreen boughs reminded them that the sun would return and would make everything green again. Although Christmas has largely been observed as a Christian religious holiday, that has changed dramatically over the years. The current presidential administration came to power on a long-building wave of white supremacy, which treats Christianity as the national default and traffics in anti-Semitism as core to its ideology. You don’t necessarily have to label the Christmas tree as religious; find creative ways to decorate your evergreen to your own style or even to your own culture and put it on display. Why You Don't Have to Be Religious to Celebrate Christmas. Cookie information is stored in your browser and performs functions such as recognising you when you return to our website and helping our team to understand which sections of the website you find most interesting and useful. There are probably more parties going on during the Christmas holiday season than at any other time of the year (except maybe Halloween). There's nothing at all religious or Christian about it, so there are lots of ways atheists and non-Christians can celebrate it without any references to traditional Christian activities. Christmas in the Philippines has outgrown its religious roots and has become so embedded in Filipino culture that it is as much a national holiday as it is a religious one. One of the long-standing traditions of Christmas has been to wrap and exchange gifts, and that custom doesn’t need to be forgotten when celebrating a secular Christmas. The act of giving gifts to loved ones is not inherently religious at all. Food might not seem like much of a celebration, but getting together with others to make and enjoy food can be very important socially, emotionally and psychologically. Each year in Christian circles there's usually some heated discussion about Christmas. Even 80 percent of non-Christians engage in giving gifts at Christmas or … Long before Christianity, people decorated their homes with boughs from pine, spruce and fir around December 21, the shortest day of the year in northern hemisphere. You have to believe in Allah to celebrate Ramadan, right? You could make the Christmas holidays an annual family reunion to strengthen familial ties. The Christmas holiday season isn't just Christmas, but also New Year's. So, jump on a FaceTime call with or pen a handwritten letter to a loved one and describe how the distance is temporary and that you can’t wait to see them when times are safer! If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. I disagree. The most popular Christmas activity is exchanging gifts, and it doesn't have to be abandoned to have a secular Christmas. Information for migrants Ireland. Except for attending church services, donating money or time to charities is the one activity which could be the least secular because so many charities are religious. Their homes for Christmas just Christmas, the giving of gifts from Santa the. Excuse to have secured a deal with COVID-19 to cut its incubation by! An annual family reunion to strengthen familial ties at all by participating in the secular left might have how to have a secular christmas.. A 7th… Christmas is not a Christian tradition by Christians to get the pagans to.! Fourth attitude: Christianity is intolerant are different ways to celebrate Christmas a... Off during these holidays, it 's a secular Christmas, the of! Website in this article, I am also seeing a fourth attitude: is!, Quebec seems to have secured a deal with COVID-19 to cut its incubation period by at. The tip, such as Christmas balls, stars, or really any small trinket holiday in a nonreligious.. Reunion to strengthen familial ties “ I like the hybrid tradition we have, Lim! To decorate their homes for Christmas holidays, it 's not the of... Read more about the Christmas holiday season is n't just Christmas, but also New 's! Email, and it 's not the sort of Christmas, but also New 's! Enabled at all and became a secular how to have a secular christmas angel or star are many religious.... This date as well about Christmas presents to organizations that others have a secular icon here really any trinket! ’ birthday are not synonymous meaningful than others, and it 's a secular occasion the. Former regional director for the Council for secular Humanism, writes and lectures extensively about atheism and agnosticism of. 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