Friday, December 08, 2017
We should all get to celebrate the holidays we want— and for me that is Winter Solstice
By SJ Otto
It is getting close to December 25, the traditional date for Christmas in this country, and as much as I love this festive season, I have to put up with those who have deemed themselves holy crusaders to keep Atheists and similar views out of the holiday season.
It has gotten harder to understand whether the hard core Christians want us non-Christians to not celebrate their holiday or whether they want us to be forced to celebrate "Christmas."
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. 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 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 sure many atheists celebrate these holidays as well. It is a good and festive celebration. 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. So why then do some Christians get so angry if non-Christians want to celebrate this holiday? Why the blatant hatred against all of us by conservative Christians?
Consider these arguments from Life Site News:
"Atheist objections to public Nativity scenes are nothing new, but a leading atheist group has shown a pattern this year of challenging displays of the Christmas message.
Several actions, legal and otherwise, have been initiated across the country this Christmas season by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF)....
....Elsewhere in Indiana, the FFRF was behind an “atheist nativity” erected in late November at the Franklin County Courthouse.
The display, a “Bill of Rights nativity” containing George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and the Statue of Liberty with the Bill of Rights in a manger, was to go up next to the traditional Nativity.
Franklin County, Indiana, commissioners drafted an ordinance allowing multiple displays on the courthouse lawn after the FFRF sued last year, according to Breitbart.com, implementing a permit application process resulting in some nine different displays approved this year so far....."
Another article in the Huff Post where the president of a Kentucky creationist museum told Fox News that Christmas was a “time to take on the atheists” who used their free speech rights to doubt the existence of God;
“Well, it wouldn’t be Christmas without someone complaining about Christ,” Fox & Friends host Elisabeth Hasselbeck told Creation Museum President Ken Ham, noting that atheists had put up a billboard in Time Square which suggested that Christ was not needed during Christmas.
“You know, the atheist who are a very small minority in the population have been trying to impose their religion of atheism on the culture now for quite a while,” Ham explained. “You know, getting Bible, prayer out of schools. Christian symbols out of public places.”
On The other hand there is the blog for American Atheists who make the argument:
"American Atheists posted new billboards in
Memphis and 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 Nashville that parodies the atheists’ first
billboard that launched Monday and that accuses atheists of sacrilege and
claims Christians are being bullied. Memphis
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 haven't seen as much "War on Christmas" blather this year as I have in years past. The real point to this is that we have every right to celebrate this season and holiday under any name we want. It is not up to others to decide what everyone gets to celebrate. 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. 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. 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 whatever holiday you want to celebrate!
I love putting up Winter Solstice lights.