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Taciturnu's avatar

What are your thoughts on non-Christians celebrating Christmas?

Asked by Taciturnu (6040points) December 14th, 2009
65 responses
“Great Question” (4points)

As someone who isn’t a Christian, I celebrate Christmas out of love and tradition. I’m interested to know how many other people do this. :)

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Answers

holden's avatar

<<raises hand

Sonnerr's avatar

Christmas has turned into an “American” holiday. I don’t think it really matters now….

Talimze's avatar

I consider Christmas to be primarily a commercial holiday, not a Christian holiday. I mean, it wasn’t even a Christian holiday to begin with . . .

gemiwing's avatar

As a Christian I think it’s fine. I mean you get a great-smelling tree, pretty lights, presents, pie, cards from loved-ones, stockings with fun toys… what’s not to like?

master_mind413's avatar

it has nothing to do with Christian’s the holiday existed long long long long before they ever did it was actually adopted by Christians from pagans the holiday is actually for me celebrated out of spending time with family love and giving nothing to do with jebus at all

Harp's avatar

I’m not Christian either, and I think it’s a wonderful thing that we have this prompt to collectively spend some time thinking about what would make other people happy. There’s some negativity that comes with it, but overall it seems that people are more kindly disposed to one another for awhile then we quickly go back to being at each others’ throats, but still…

Jude's avatar

@master_mind413 Punctuation would be greatly appreciated here. It makes what you type up a lot easier to read. Thanks.

Stargater's avatar

I have no religion whatsoever but i just love to celebrate Christmas for me it’s about getting together with family, whom i might not see for many many months apart from this one special time of year the tree the decorations the good food and most of all the love shared by family. I even like to sing along to the carols :)

master_mind413's avatar

Jmah if you don’t like what I type then don’t read it there is no need to nit pick on people

Jude's avatar

@master_mind413 Do as you wish.

It just looks a whole lot better if you add a little punctuation here and there.

Mavericksjustdoinganotherflyby's avatar

I will celebrate Christmas with friends as long as they join me in my celebration of “Festivus”.

nicobanks's avatar

I think a lot of people do this. Almost my entire family (extended, in-laws, everything) does. A few of us are Christians, but most are not.

I don’t really like this. I find it… messy. I think, ideally, Christians would celebrate Christian holidays like Jews celebrate Jewish holidays and Muslims celebrate Muslim holidays. Ideally the state and public sphere would be secular and civic ‘days of rest’ would not privilege one religion over the other. Non-Christians could celebrate the winter solstice or just the winter season, the new year, whatever. But I don’t like a holiday being a mush of Christian/secular. It makes me… uncomfortable.

But that’s ideally. My ideal world doesn’t match up with the real world anywhere. I don’t have much of a practical problem living in the real world, though. Unless I’m called upon to really think about it, I enjoy Christmas. I love Christmas! The decorations, the music, the drinks and food, family and friends, joyfulness and charity, it’s great! The gift-giving and commercial aspect in general I could do without though (or severely limit anyway).

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I am an atheist and I don’t celebrate Christmas – I celebrate the coming of a new Year

Taciturnu's avatar

@nicobanks Thank you for your honest answer. :) Would you miss the family who weren’t Christians, assuming you could snap your fingers and non-Christians wouldn’t celebrate Christian holidays? (For the record, I have jumped in on other religions’ holidays, too.) :)

@Simone_De_Beauvoir That sounds like a good option. I think I would feel like an outcast among my family, though. Do you feel that way ever?

Supacase's avatar

I’m agnostic and don’t celebrate because of the birth of Jesus, although I have never told my family that. My beliefs are personal and I find no reason to start a ruckus over them. I celebrate Christmas with great enthusiasm. I love the kindness of the season, the hustle and bustle, the giving, the decorations, the delight of the children and so on. It is delightful.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@taciturnu Well my husband and I don’t like organized religion – mom’s an atheist, as well (she hails from Communist Russia times) – grandma doesn’t care..aunt is religious and she celebrates Russian Christmas (beginning of January)..we all celebrate New Year’s together…my husband’s family is Christian and this year we’re spending Christmas with them but they know of our beliefs…

nicobanks's avatar

@master_mind413 Saying Christmas has nothing to do with Christianity is a pretty big overstatement. I mean, yes, there are pagan roots and influences, and secular commercial influences, and many people celebrate Christmas without thinking of Jesus/religion, but Christianity is everywhere in Christmas! Santa Claus is based on a Christian saint, the name of the holiday itself references the religion, most Christmas songs reference Christ and most Christmas movies/stories are religious in tone if not in content (which many are), many Christmas decorations and images on cards are religious, public spaces are decorated with religious images and symbols (there’s a nativity scene in front of the court house in my city, for instance), and on Christmas eve and day people everywhere engage in Christian ritual worship. I don’t, and you don’t, but that’s a far cry from saying Christmas has nothing to do with Christianity.

@taciturnu Just to be clear, I’m not Christian. You know, no one ever asked me that, it never occured to me I’d actually be splitting up the family! Hmm. I guess the way I’d have it is the family celebrations would focus on the winter solstice and on the new year. Everyone can celebrate those things, Christian and non. Christians already celebrate the new year so that’s not too much of a stretch. So the family celebrations wouldn’t really change, they’d just happen a week earlier or later give-or-take. And on Christmas the Christians in the family would gather with their community as they already do. I mean I don’t go to church with my Granny, but I do have a family dinner party with her every year, so in my ideal world she’d still be going to church on Christmas and we’d still be having our party only it wouldn’t be called a Christmas party, but a winter solstice party or something instead.

master_mind413's avatar

it was actually saturnalia and yule before christmas modern churches put there own takes on it after killing many of the society’s and cultures and then adopting it for there own but the original tree stockings food and date are all pagan buddy

nicobanks's avatar

@master_mind413 Yes, I understand all that, hence why I said “pagan roots and influence.”

MrItty's avatar

Christmas is a secular, American holiday. By definition. It is a federally recognized holiday, Federal employees have the day off, etc. The fact that the root cause of the federal holiday is the Christian holiday (whose root cause itself is a Pagan holiday) is almost coincidental at this point in our history.

DominicX's avatar

I’ll say the same thing I’ve said 587 times before on this site: Christmas has two sides: the secular side and the religious side. As a Catholic family, my family and I celebrate both the religious and the secular part of Christmas. I enjoy both parts of Christmas. I don’t care if a non-Christian celebrates Christmas. I’d guess they’d stick to the secular part of Christmas.

CMaz's avatar

Hey, it is a day off with pay.

Taciturnu's avatar

@master_mind413 Thank you. I was aware of that actually, but was more focused on modern tradition. :)

@nicobanks No worries. I wouldn’t be upset if you were. :) I was curious as to what you’d think. Sounds like it’s more of a technicality thing for you.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I do understand that completely. My husband grew up in communist Bulgaria, although he is very strong in his Bulgarian Orthodox faith. (The older generations celebrate Jan6, but he and his family celebrate Dec25.) Personally, I am a Unitarian Universalist, and most of us are atheists, though I am not. For Christmas, I just like the general feeling of mankind.

Taciturnu's avatar

@DominicX I’m impressed with your memory. :)

thriftymaid's avatar

What are they celebrating? That’s my thought on it. If you are not Christian there is no reason for you to participate in Christmas festivities.

MrItty's avatar

@thriftymaid peace, love, family, togetherness, charity….. or are you under the impression those things are unique to Christianity?

nicobanks's avatar

@MrItty It is a federally-recognized holiday, so secular in that sense, but you can’t say that’s all it is. The name of the holiday itself; but also the decorations put up in public places and sold in stores (not just ‘Christian’ stores), the movies shown on TV (not just ‘Chrisian’ TV) and the books in the bookstores (...), a lot of these things have explicitly to do with Christian dogma, and many more employ general Christian imagery or language. It’s no coincidence and this kind of thing does matter. It’s counter-productive not to recognize the effects Christianity has on the public sphere, the intertwining. Think of the effect on our laws and government practices (abortion, marriage, stem-cell research, to name a few).

MrItty's avatar

@nicobanks point, please, to where I said “that’s all that it is.” I said it is a secular holiday. I did not say “and it’s not a Christian holiday”. There is no reason it can’t be both.

nicobanks's avatar

@taciturnu For better or worse, things often are for me (that is, technicalities). But my discomfort is sincere!

Skippy's avatar

@MrItty – It just seems strange when you actually say it that being a secular holiday AND the government is off as a “Legal holiday” does that not say they promote it?

Do Jewish folks get Hannauka off with pay? The stock market it not closed for that!

In our house, we celebrate the birth of Christ. As I get older, I really am getting sick of all of the commercialism involved with it.

MrItty's avatar

@Skippy No, they don’t. And that’s exactly my point. Christmas is dual natured. It is both reglious and secular. Other holidays are not. Therefore, while it’s absurd to me for a non-Jewish person to celebrate Chanukah, it’s perfectly valid and normal for a non-Christian American to celebrate the (secular traditions of) Christmas.

nicobanks's avatar

@MrItty You didn’t say “that’s all it is” specifically but you did say Christianity’s relationship with Christmas today is “almost coincidental.” If I misunderstood you I apologize.

MrItty's avatar

@nicobanks I said “at this point in our history” it’s almost coincidental. As in, many people who today celebrate the the secular parts of Christmas are doing so with absolutely nothing of the birth of Christ in mind. I did not mean to imply that their origins are coincidental.

JLeslie's avatar

Probably Christmas should not be a government or legal holiday technically. It is not necessary, the majority of the country is Christian; schools and business would be closed anyway, without the legal holiday.

But for the original question, If non-Chistians want to celebrate Christmas have at it. Seems people interpret Christmas all sorts of ways. Since I am Jewish, I don’t celebrate Christmas in my home (unless my Catholic relatives are at my house during Christmas, but I still don’t have a tree or decorations, but we would have Christmas Eve dinner and exchange gifts), but I am happy to be with my husbands family or friends and celebrate with them. I love the tree, and the songs, and the lights.

Gossamer's avatar

hypocracy goes best with a side dish of gravy!

Judi's avatar

It’s really non of my business if non Christians want to celebrate Christmas. To some it is a religious celebration, to others it’s a winter holiday. In a world of freedom, why would I think negatively of someone who has a different belief system than I or who celebrates life differently from me?
I am a Christian by the way.

nicobanks's avatar

@MrItty I’m not talking about origins either but how it is today. I know a lot of people celebrate it without thinking about Jesus/Christianity but if we consider how Christmas plays out in the public sphere we can’t say that Christianity isn’t deeply enmeshed in what Christmas is today.

thriftymaid's avatar

@MrItty . Those things are not unique to Christians, but Christmas is.

XOXMSperfect's avatar

Its not really a christian holiday either. It’s a holiday based around a red man in a suit bringing presents to good little boys and girls. There are only christian elements that have been plugged into it, but they stole everything they know about it from yule so really its just one big messed up jumble of culture and consumerism.

JLeslie's avatar

@XOXMSperfect called CHRISTmas.

MrItty's avatar

@thriftymaid No. It’s not. Neither the origins nor the current practices. Sorry.

@nicobanks I don’t disagree with anything you just said. I also don’t especially see how it contradicts anything I previously said. :-)

Michael's avatar

@MrItty I am having trouble with your argument that Christmas is both secular and religious at the same time. Those two words are mutually exclusive. Something cannot be both secular (meaning “not pertaining to or connected with religion”) and religious.

I agree with you that there are many Americans who celebrate Christmas without any overt religious meaning, but that fact alone does not strip the holiday (itself a word that connotes religious meaning) of its religiousness.

Furthermore, just because the government marks December 25th as a day off does not make it a secular celebration. In some cities, public schools have off for the major Jewish holidays, for example. That those are government-sanctioned days off does not make Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashonah a secular holiday.

The bottom line is that, while many Americans choose to celebrate “Christmas” areligiously, Christmas itself remains a religious observance.

JLeslie's avatar

@Michael @MrItty This is not really an argument for anything, just some thoughts that occured to me while reading your comments. Schools get Yom Kippur off because in areas where there are a lot of Jews not enough children come to school to count the day as an offical day and they would have to make it up at the end of the year if attendance is not high enough, so they plan the day off. It is not really the government calling it a holiday, and it is not a federal thing, it is done by localities. However, I think the government making Christmas a federal holiday is the recognition of the religious day. This is why I said that I think Christmas should not be a federal holiday, and I think if it weren’t it still would not affect businesses anyway, they would still give the day off, because the majority of their employees celebrate it. I just found out that some stores were open on Easter last year here where I live. Isn’t that the holiest day of the Christian year? That seems ridiculous to me. And, that contradicts what I wrote above probably.

MrItty's avatar

@Michael If you don’t see the contradiction inherent in your last statement, we’re going to have to agree to disagree. :-)

“The bottom line is that, while many Americans choose to celebrate “Christmas” areligiously, Christmas itself remains a religious observance.”

If some people celebrate it without regard to religion, it is not – universally, constantly, 100% – a religious celebration.

MrItty's avatar

@JLeslie That last bit about Easter pretty much proves my point (to me, anyway). Easter is, indeed the holiest day in Christianity. Yet it is not celebrated far and wide like Christmas is. The Christmas celebrations are largely not-religious. We go out and buy each other presents like we do on birthdays and Valentines day. We sing songs about Winter Wonderlands, Jingle Bells, and Frosty the Snowman. We decorate pine trees. We tell children stories about a magical man who lives with elves and visits their house. None of these have the slightest to do with the birth of Christ.

And at the exact same time, people go to Church and celebrate the birth of Christ, they sing songs about poor dummer boys visiting the Baby Christ and Silent Holy Nights, they gather with their family and pray.

And of course, many, many people do both.

The two sets of traditions do not, in and of themselves, have anything to do with one another. The two holidays could be completely separate and distinct, and be just as meaningful.

faye's avatar

I’m not Christian and I celebrate it for my kids. TWO of these kids are not christians either but like the present idea!!! So I guess we all celibrate for daughter and sisterl

Michael's avatar

@MrItty I think I understand your perspective a bit better now and I certainly do see how my last statement could be read as being contradictory. I think, in fact, that you and I do generally agree on this matter. We both recognize that Christmas can be celebrated in a religious and in a non-religious way.

My main point is simply that having many people celebrate it non-religiously does not make the holiday itself secular, at least not yet. Take Halloween as a comparison. Certainly it had religious foundations and for many years was only observed as a religious holiday. During some time period, it was celebrated as both a religious and secular holiday, but now is predominantly (perhaps even near universally) observed as a secular day. I guess I don’t think Christmas has reached that point yet.

JLeslie's avatar

@MrItty I would agree. It is all so intertwined, I kind of don’t like that about Christmas. If we are going to have a secular holiday lets give it a different name and not lump on the same day as the religious one.

JLeslie's avatar

@Michael Not YET. But, since Christians have allowed it to become a gift oriented commercialized mess, it seems in jeopardy. I have more Christians tell me I can have a tree and celebrate Christmas than Jews (I am Jewish by the way). Maybe I am wrong.

GingerMinx's avatar

Who cares? Christians took over pagan festivals to push their religion. In this day and age it is merely another holiday. Why can’t people just celebrate what they want to without it being questioned?

MrItty's avatar

@Michael and @JLeslie Hoo-rah for agreement and understanding! :-)

Darwin's avatar

It’s certainly good for business however it came about, and unfortunately is an accurate reflection of the materialism that has overtaken American culture.

jamielynn2328's avatar

To each their own. If Christmas is a time for Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus, then that is what Christmas means to them. Christmas I imagine is something a bit different for everyone To me Christmas means being with family and creating spectacular memories for my kids. I do not consider myself a christian and Christmas is my favorite holiday.

randomness's avatar

I think the more pressing question is… why do non-pagans celebrate christmas? After all, it was originally a pagan holiday….

lonelydragon's avatar

As randomness and others pointed out, Christianity doesn’t have a patent on Christmas…or on the virtues associated with it, like peace, love, and charity. In my view, Christmas is a time for celebrating goodwill to all—and that’s something everyone can participate in.

Taciturnu's avatar

Thanks everyone for all your thoughts. I find it interesting to hear other people’s perceptions.

Alrook's avatar

Uh, I don’t celebrate Christmas…I use it as an excuse to get fat and hangout with family (and stay home from college and work).

YARNLADY's avatar

I have found that it’s impossible to avoid, no matter what religion or non-religion we might be, businesses and others continue to wish a Merry Christmas to everyone. I like the bright lights and the cheerful attitudes and the whole idea of Peace on Earth, even with zero religious overtones.

Darwin's avatar

My question is why does my husband get deathly ill on major holidays? He’s done Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, and now is doing Christmas in the ICU again.

JLeslie's avatar

@Darwin I’m sorry to hear that.

Skippy's avatar

@Darwin Prayers coming your way! Is he alergic to holidays?

just trying to lighten your load

Darwin's avatar

@Skippy – Apparently he is. He is doing better today, though.

Cotton101's avatar

Well, I’m a Christian, and everyone has a different reason to celebrate at Christmas time. That would be their business! Each his own!

Cotton101's avatar

@Darwin so sorry to hear that! take care!

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