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As Humanists, do you celebrate the festive season?

Any topics that are primarily about humanism or other non-religious life stances fit in here.
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scogirl
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As Humanists, do you celebrate the festive season?

#1 Post by scogirl » September 24th, 2007, 10:23 am

I have noted the steady flow of all things 'Christmassey" into the shops recently and it got me thinking...

For many years 'Christmas' has for me, been about time off work & spending time with family, eating & drinking too much, relaxing and being able to spoil people and indulge the raging consumerist within...

This has nothing to do with religion, I even send Christmas cards although in fairness, last years were from the Cats Protection and featured cats! Not a manger or St. Nick in sight.

But is this wrong? Can we celebrate the 'festive' season without being a sell out or a plain old hypocrite??

What do you do?
If I ever catch you actin' like crazy fool again, you're gonna meet my friend PAIN

Fred
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#2 Post by Fred » September 24th, 2007, 10:38 am

Of course we can. The bloody christians nicked it off the pagans, so why shouldn't we have a good time when we can get a couple of days off work?
Fred

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Alan C.
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#3 Post by Alan C. » September 24th, 2007, 12:00 pm

I personally don't celebrate Xmas but it's not because I'm an Atheist, I hate the ridiculous over the top spending spree that people seem obliged to take part in, a spending spree lots of folk can't afford, people getting into serious debt, just so the kids can have the latest junk (no pun intended) from China.
The Encyclopedia Americana, 1956 edition, adds, “Christmas…was not observed in the first centuries of the Christian church, since the Christian usage in general was to celebrate the death of remarkable persons rather than their birth…a feast was established in memory of this event [Christ’s birth] in the fourth century. In the fifth century the Western Church ordered the feast to be celebrated forever on the day of the Mithraic rites of the birth of the sun and at the close of the Saturnalia, as no certain knowledge of the day of Christ’s birth existed.”
December 25th was not selected because it was the birth of Christ or because it was even near it. It was selected because it coincided with the idolatrous pagan festival Saturnalia—and this celebration must be carefully examined. In any event, we do not know the exact date of Christ’s birth. While God certainly could have made it known, He chose to hide it from the world’s eyes!
Neither Mary or myself have bought Xmas presents for over 30 years.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

Maria Mac
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#4 Post by Maria Mac » September 24th, 2007, 1:12 pm

I've never taken any notice of the religious part of Christmas - just treated it as a traditional end of year festival when families get together. I quite enjoyed the occasion when the kids were young but find the whole thing tiresome now.

Last year, because of the death of my mother, it was the first year that I felt free enough to do what I want at Christmas, which was absolutely nothing. Didn't treat it as different from any other day. Will do the same this year, probably.

Haven't sent a xmas card or present in years.

I think people should be free to make what they want of Christmas.

lewist
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#5 Post by lewist » September 24th, 2007, 1:13 pm

Fred wrote:Of course we can. The bloody christians nicked it off the pagans, so why shouldn't we have a good time when we can get a couple of days off work?
We do celebrate it and I am quite happy with that. Fred is right. The Christians freeloaded in all kinds of ways including their festivals.

Midwinter has been celebrated throughout history and back into prehistory. It comes at the most miserable time of year when food was becoming scarce in subsistence economies. There was not enough food for more than the breedstock and therefore animals were eaten throughout the winter and the goose was fattened and had its neck wrung for the party. Many of the symbols are pagan and to do with this being a festival of light, or of the return of light. Star of Bethlehem? Phooey! It's a pagan symbol.

Most of all, we need a cheer you up at that dismal time. It doesn't have to involve the financially crippling blast many people indulge in but when the rain is sheeting down outside why not celebrate as human beings did thousands of years before a strange religious sect took over the feast and tried to call it their own! Have fun!

:party: :party: :party: :party: :party: :party: :party: :party: :party: :party: :party: :party: :party: :party:
Carpe diem. Savour every moment.

Fred
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#6 Post by Fred » September 24th, 2007, 1:14 pm

I am hoping that this Xmas, I will be sober enough to watch Dr Who and remember it. The past two Xmas specials, I've had to watch repeats of to understand what was happening.
Fred

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scogirl
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#7 Post by scogirl » September 24th, 2007, 1:34 pm

Fred wrote:I am hoping that this Xmas, I will be sober enough to watch Dr Who and remember it. The past two Xmas specials, I've had to watch repeats of to understand what was happening.
:hilarity:
If I ever catch you actin' like crazy fool again, you're gonna meet my friend PAIN

Beki
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#8 Post by Beki » September 24th, 2007, 5:44 pm

I love Xmas (well actually Boxing Day). It is the one day of the year that my whole family get together from all over the UK - brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews cousins, aunties and everybody's partners. My mum cooks a fantastic spread and organises games, quizzes and Karaoke etc for us all to play in teams. There is usually at least 20 of us and it can get very loud and very competitive (in a good natured way). I end up crying with laughter every year as my wee brother (who is now 32!) sooks up to my gran (the annual adjudicator) to try and get extra points, but she has none of it!

My mum recently dropped the bombshell that she was moving house soon. Without exception, everyone asked her "What about Boxing Day?" It is such an important day for us, we wouldn't miss it for the world. Thankfully she has seen sense and bought somewhere that should still accommodate all of us at a squeeze.....

Nothing religious about it, it is just a time of year when everyone is off work and can manage to get to Glasgow for a few days.

On the subject of Xmas - here is one of my favourite Calvin & Hobbes strips that I think I posted somewhere else on here (just in case you missed it!)

[img]http://i204.photobucket.com/albums/bb17 ... outgod.gif[/img]

kbell
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#9 Post by kbell » September 24th, 2007, 6:43 pm

I'm thinking how atheists deal with xmas has nothing to do with religion and much to do with how much they have enjoyed the xmasses they grew up having, which in turn has a lot to do with how they get on with their families.

I'm another misery guts who dislikes xmas and doesn't mark it.

petra10
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#10 Post by petra10 » September 24th, 2007, 11:12 pm

I hate christmas all that cheap tat and rubbish presses that you get.I go with the flow of the thing because of the kids who I may add only like it due to the pressies they get.We dont have anything religious about it in our house.Same goes for easter,in fact they dont even want eggs anymore its now "easter money.
I also hate all the chessy stuff on telly at xmas,it drives me crazy.

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Chris
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Re: As Humanists, do you celebrate the festive season?

#11 Post by Chris » September 25th, 2007, 10:23 am

scogirl wrote:
But is this wrong? Can we celebrate the 'festive' season without being a sell out or a plain old hypocrite??
We do just what we want to do scogirl. But the origins are interesting and date back much further than Christianity, that was only one of many such religions of the time.

It is not a religious festival, nor is Easter come to that. which about celebrating women and fertility, not about a man on a cross, (unless one is a Christian of course.)

You might wonder - 'why does this comes up every year?'- It seems to me that humanist organisations are not doing their job if they are content to let this ignorance go unchallenged year in year out.

There is an excellent little booklet written by RJ Condon, with a foreword from Barbara Smoker (It is in her website) called 'Our Pagan Christmas' available from the NSS.

And there are at least two recent films that explain the astrological stories, mythology and folklore that grew around the births of 'saviours' to virgin mothers at the time of the winter solstice.
One is 'The God Who Wasn't There' by Brian Flemming (also available from the NSS I think) and the other is the first part of Zeitgeist 2007 Google.

And schools could if they knew anything about it base Midwinter plays, not on the Christian nativity, but on the much wider and more interesting mythology of ancient peoples - the sun and survival, and link it to current care for the environment.

Chrissie
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#12 Post by Chrissie » October 5th, 2007, 6:02 pm

I think it’s a natural thing to want to have a festival to brighten up a long, cold, dark winter! As other people have said it’s got a long history long before Christianity adopted the date and there’s similar winter festivals of light in other faiths and parts of the world. I love it! It’s not a family gathering for us, just me and my son usually, but we have a great time (without getting sucked into spending a fortune!). It’s a good reminder to keep in touch with all my distant friends and family too, I couldn’t imagine not sending and receiving all those cards every year and am sure I would have lost touch with various people without it. You don’t have to go in for the commercial side of it either, I manage to send all my nephews and nieces presents without spending a lot, I think that’s a good thing for my son to grow up enjoying sharing and thinking of making other kids happy as well, not just thinking of himself! The same goes for the Christmas charity “shoe box” present schemes. It’s not a Christian festival to us, but we don’t ignore the nativity story either, it’s part of our culture and history he ought to know it and acknowledge that it means a lot to some people. That’s a big difference to saying that it’s “true”, just like I’d tell him other stories associated with the season like a “Christmas Carol” or about Father Christmas but (and this annoys a lot of people!) I don’t say that’s true either! I wonder what other atheist parents say about that? Am I a kill-joy (bah humbug!) or honest/non-deceptive?! I’ll have to find out more about these ancient mythologies that Chris said about too, can you recommend any children’s books of alternative festive stories?

verte
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#13 Post by verte » October 5th, 2007, 8:56 pm

I have a sweet tooth and no reverence for anything. If it's a cake or pie holiday, I will happily put in an appearance.
Space for rent, cheap.

lewist
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#14 Post by lewist » October 5th, 2007, 10:28 pm

Chrissie wrote:...can you recommend any children’s books of alternative festive stories?
Whe I was in school, at our last assembly before Christmas I often read the children the description of Christmas in Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Each of the little girls got for Christmas a tin cup, a candy stick, a penny and a cake with sugar frosting on the top. Was there ever such a Christmas?

I felt it was a counter to the feast of avarice that our midwinter festival has become.
Carpe diem. Savour every moment.

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#15 Post by Maria Mac » October 6th, 2007, 12:00 am

Chrissie wrote:.. I’d tell him other stories associated with the season like a “Christmas Carol” or about Father Christmas but (and this annoys a lot of people!) I don’t say that’s true either! I wonder what other atheist parents say about that? Am I a kill-joy (bah humbug!) or honest/non-deceptive?!
Both! :grin:

It can be a problem because you're under so much pressure to go along with the Santa Claus story. On the other hand, if you're trying to raise your children to be honest and truthful, what kind of example are you setting them?

I found myself unable to resist the pressure (from the extended family, other parents, playgroup and even school) to go along with the lie. I justified it to myself by remembering how much I enjoyed the fantasy and only felt guilty when my son came home from school saying he'd been told by a classmate that the whole Santa thing was BS. I knew this child's father was in prison and her mother was struggling with three little ones so I totally understood why this mother had to tell her kids the reason why they didn't get such expensive xmas presents as their friends.

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#16 Post by Fia » October 6th, 2007, 4:57 pm

Like Maria, I was unable to resist the social pressure to do the Santa thing.

However, I was always very careful to use words such as "people say", "allegedly", "supposedly", "we are told". All presents clearly marked with the giver's name. When asked outright I asked them what they thought. It's a good intro into the concept of different folk believe different things.

I rarely did xmas when single (only with my parents) but with children we do xmas - but rarely on the 25th as I love working or volunteering that day.

As for tooth fairies - we cut out the middle woman: they give me the tooth, I give them £1.

As is oft repeated "No Santa, No tooth fairy, No god". My children grasped this very quickly, so perhaps Santa is actually doing us good service by initiating critical thinking?

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#17 Post by Maria Mac » October 6th, 2007, 6:41 pm

Desmond wrote:
As for tooth fairies - we cut out the middle woman: they give me the tooth, I give them £1.
Now why didn't I think of that? Then I wouldn't have had to remember the extra chore I had carry out once they were asleep. Once I left the coin (20p was the going rate in London in the late 80s) under my son's pillow but forgot to take the damn tooth. I shamefully told him the 'tooth fairy' had been a bit a drunk and forgetful the previous night but it didn't stop him trying his luck again the next night.
As is oft repeated "No Santa, No tooth fairy, No god". My children grasped this very quickly, so perhaps Santa is actually doing us good service by initiating critical thinking?
Yes, this has also occurred to me. In some ways it seems an ideal topic for them to think through and work out for themselves when they're at the right age.

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#18 Post by gregory » October 13th, 2007, 11:54 am

Like lots of people I sort of celebrate Christmas. Which means I don't go to church but I am not too averse to listening to carols. I send cards but they usually depict a robin or a group of international children. I like the story of Christmas but don't take it literally.

I don't find Christmas a happy time these days. there were one or two nice Christmases when I was a child. In some countries it isn't the day which is celebrated but the Eve and I have had pleasant moments helping with the preparations with my mother again when I was a child. One of the best Christmases was when I had high blood pressure I I wasn't allowed to do anything - I didn't feel like doing anything until a bit rebelliously I sneaked off the couch and did a bit of tidying up.

I have put extra lights on in the huse during this time because it is so dark and watched suitably seasonal programmes on the television. I usually buy presents from charity organisations, not that my kids particularly like them but I'm not buying them booze even though I am not teetotal it can be difficult to know what to buy but my daughter wants clothes this year.

It is true that in agricultural societies the peoples eat up what they had in store or killed what they had in store so the rest of the animals could overwinter on the fodder which was left. Well its in my history books anyway. In pre-agricultural times it is thought that people still did hunt since there were animals available but nothing much growing. This is said to be the reason why these people worshipped the Lord of the Forest at this time the female dieties coming along after the solstice when the land started to waken again. Nothing is certain of course and as Professor Hutton might say we can only speculate and some of these "ancient" customs are really inventions by more modern people.

I very much dislike Christmas morning, there seems to be nothing much on the television and the whole street seems deserted - well it is deserted and I hear no neibours rejoicing or even being normally happy. Things get better after I have made a big meal and the television shows some films. Whether I spend Christmas Day with my family depends on if the lad gets contact with his kids. Don't divorce unless you really have to folks thats what I say. I envy people who can do nothing and feel okay about it not because of guilt I don't think rather because feeling okay isn't always how I feel.

It was a good idea that someone said that maybe Humanists don't do enough to help other Humanists through this time.
There'll be blue birds over
The white cliffs of Dover

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Alan C.
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#19 Post by Alan C. » October 13th, 2007, 12:19 pm

I'm just waiting for the first "lets put Christ back into Christmas" letter to appear in our local paper, (as it surely will)
I'll write a response showing them that Christmas has got nothing to do with Christianity, but like Easter, was stolen from the Pagans.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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Alan C.
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#20 Post by Alan C. » October 13th, 2007, 9:33 pm

The nativity Nick Gisburne style. :hilarity:
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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