It all started with a status update. I posted a quote I got from The Friendly Atheist blog that basically said, Christians don't stop advertising during non-Christian holidays like Ramadan, Kwanzaa, and Yom Kippur, so why should atheists walk on egg shells during December. Here is the exchange that followed:
Friend #1: how are you walking on egg shells?This is why I think its incredibly important to keep on advertising during the holidays and all year long for that matter. I love these guys. I grew up with them. And this is why I continued to respond but in all reality there is no debate here. Just a flat out misunderstanding of the issues. But some times the ignorance of Christianity poisons some of the brightest people.
Me: Its called a double standard. Atheists run ads during the holidays saying things like Jesus is not the only reason for the season or that the "christmas story" is myth. We even run simpler ads all year long saying things like we can be good... with out god you can too. But when we run these ads all year long without stopping in December we are labeled as attacking the "REAL" reason for Christmas. Which to atheists is completely bogus. Guess who else would agree? OTHER RELIGIONS...You see Christians want a monopoly on this time of year and that in turn forces OTHERS to tread softly. You can't have your cake and eat it to. The reason I say you can't have your cake and eat it too is because Christians don't stop their advertising of their religion during religious holidays and celebrations like Ramadan or Yom Kippur. So why should Jews, Muslims, Atheists, etc...be forced to stop displaying or advertising they beleifs or lack there of? Since the overwhelming majority of americans self-identify as "christians" it is deemed unamerican to posit or advertise any other belief besides Christianity. You really need to watch the media, especially Fox News to see how Atheists are marginalized and villified as unamerican scum trying to take over the world. Its disgusting and dishonest to say the least. Also, let me give you an example as to why atheists tend to speak out during the "Christmas Season".
For the sake of argument lets say that Christianity is about 2000 years old. Now it didn't have its current traditions from the outset of conception. This is 2000 years of evolution of Christianity. In other words what we understand today to be Christian norms, traditions, and theology did not exist at the outset or birth of Christianity. What we have now are mere anachronistic extrapolations placed in a modern context. With this established, we need to ask the question then, what was before our current tradition. Well to be completely honest everybody celebrated the "Christmas Season" a little bit differently in antiquity but there is one constant we find in the mediteranean world. They all were celebrating winter solstice. One of the biggest festivals if you will was that of Saturnalia, practiced by the Romans. It started around 220 bce. It was about a week long usually ending around December 24th. It was a time to eat, gamble, and be with family. Part of the tradition of Saturnalia was to give gifts to family and friends...this is sounding like Christianity basically plagiarized Saturnalia to a T.
What about the Christmas tree? It goes back to the druids of Great Britian and foremost the Norse. They used to cut down evergreens and decorate them. We even have a passage in Jeremiah where the prophet condemns the pagans for cutting down trees. Jer. 10:2-4. Christmas trees don't become Christian tradition till about 1000-1500 ce. The Christmas tree did not even become popular in America till about the 1850s.
Holly and mistletoe? Also druid and Norse tradtion.
Out of all the Christmas tradtions I would say 2 are exclusively Christian in nature. The first being the actual name Christmas--coming from the tradtiional Catholic Christ Mass--and the second being the Christmas story. Which is riddled with myth and half truths and not to mention the books where we get the story from differ and disagree on almost every fact...
Since Christians have completely hijacked this time of year we atheists are forced to walk lightly because speaking the truth about Christmas is some how unamerican. I find it a noble act to ruffle the feathers of the ignorant.
Sorry if I or this comes across condescending or invidious in any way as this was not my intention. My intent was to show you how and why we have to walk on eggshells.
Friend #2: lol I think this is hilarious. I hope you don't mind not receiving any Christmas gifts from your family, seeing as your a devout atheist, it wouldn't be right practicing a religios tradition, no matter how watered down it may be. Although, I could totally see you filling out a Christmas list for your parents!! LOL
Me: Im glad to see you think its funny. It just shows you misunderstand my position. I can't and won't stop people from believing what they will. They have that right just as I do. So, as for my parents, yes, they are Christian and practice if ...you will that religions traditions during Christmas. Now let me be clear, they don't give me gifts because 3 wise kings traveled across deserts to witness the birth of a baby god and in return give this baby god gifts. When I was a child it was all about Santa giving me gifts for being naughty or nice. Then I found out, by my parents, that they lied to me because Santa wasn't real and it was my parents all along. So, as you can see, for my family, giving gifts had nothing to do with religious tradition. They gave gifts because thats what you did. It became a family tradition. It became religious neutral. It didn't matter what you believed, my family gave gifts out of love for that other person, to bless them.
Even if we go back into history we see gift giving before it became a religious tradition. People celebrated winter solstice in many ways. It was a religious neutral celebration. People gave gifts during this time no matter if you were pagan, jew, christian, or atheist. Giving is not religious in nature. Its very human in nature.
So you can laugh and think its hilarious thats fine it really doesn't matter to me. I celebrate our humanity during December and as a part of that I give gifts and recieve them as well because giving and receiving is religious neutral.