By សតិវ អតុ
When Revolution occurs, we have to evaluate our society and decide what stays and what goes. So for us here in the USA what do we do about Christmas on December 25. It is a festive celebration. I’m sure many atheists celebrate these holidays as well. Why should we not take part in such a holiday. After all it is in the dead of winter when we could use some cheerfulness. And it involves us meeting up with family members and friends. It is a great time of year. But it is also associated with the Christian holiday which involves celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. actually the December holiday that was taken over by the early Christians, when Rome converted to Christianity. Many of the old symbols are still used—such as putting a tree in the house and decorating it. And also having some kind of father character which we now call Santa Clause.
No one is stopping people from celebrating Christmas, that is the holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, despite the fact that that the actual date has never been completely narrowed down for him,. Picking a date for such a celebration is just fine. It is symbolic and I have no problem with that. Just let the rest of us celebrate as we want to.
Some time ago people in this country realized that Jews don’t celebrate Christmas, so some people began trying to include Chanukah in these holidays. In some cities as in New York there are a lot of Jews. There are menorahs and many people say “Happy Chanukah.” There is also the newer holiday called Kwanzaa. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966, as the first specifically African-American holiday. According to Karenga, the name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda yakwanza, meaning "first fruits of the harvest", although a more conventional translation would simply be "first fruits".
A few years ago I studied various pagan beliefs, such as Druidry. Most celebrate some kind of version of the holiday known as Winter Solstice. I later decided to go back to my traditional humanist approach to spirituality and I adapted the doctrines of Epicurus. Epicurus did not deny the existence of god(s) but decided that gods take care of gods and humans need to take care of themselves. He also told people we should learn not to blame everything on gods. ‘If your house is crushed by an earthquake it isn’t the anger of the gods, you built your house in an earthquake prone place.’ And he didn’t believe in an after-life.
I am a Maoist first and an Epicurean second. I put more of my energies into my politics than my spiritual beliefs, and they overlap. Both Maoism and Epicureanism promote focusing on humanity. Either way, I believe that people come first, not gods and not the afterlife.
I still like the fall holidays, I still celebrate Samhain for Halloween and for Christmas I celebrate Winter Solstice or Yule, which at one time was also celebrated as Saturnalia. Saturnalia or the solstice was actually the December holiday that was taken over by the early Christians, when Rome converted to Christianity. Many of the old symbols are still used—such as putting a tree in the house and decorating it. And also having some kind of father character which we now call Santa Clause.
I'm not trying to wipe out Christian Beliefs. But I do not share their belief in Jesus as a divine God-head. So I have found other reasons to celebrate this holiday. Many atheists have found their own reasons to celebrate this holiday.:
Recently there was the blog for American Atheists who make the argument:
"American Atheists posted new billboards in Memphis and Nashville on Friday that read “Dear Christians, I share my toys. Why won’t you share the season? Happy Holidays for all!” The new message is in response to an anti-atheist billboard placed by a group of Christians on Thursday evening in Memphis that parodies the atheists’ first billboard that launched Monday and that accuses atheists of sacrilege and claims Christians are being bullied.
The Christian campaign’s spokesperson Marshall Hart also accused American Atheists of “using children” to spread its message, despite using the photo of a three-year-old girl on its own billboard.
“The hypocrisy is unbelievable,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “Millions of American children are forced to go to church under the threat of being denied meals, losing household privileges, having their college tuition cut off, or being kicked out of their homes. Many atheist adults are forced to go to church under threat of divorce or lose custody of their children. We must ask the question, who are the real bullies? Those who are unafraid to stand up for our views on billboards, or those who destroy families from the inside out?”
I like celebrating the Winter Solstice and I get to do all the fun stuff, such as decorating a tree, putting lights on my house, toasting with wine, and giving a few gifts to close friends. My spirituality does not come from a god. It comes from within those who share my beliefs. That works for me and I plan to stick with that.
Have a Happy Winter Solstice! —Or Christmas/ Saturnalia, etc!