Around the world countless millions of non-Christians celebrate Christmas every year. the sing carols, they put up trees and nativity scenes. Some even go to midnight mass. If these people don’t believe in Jesus, then why do they do it?
Well, firstly Christmas is fun. Humans like to have fun and when they see a party, their first instinct is often to join in. For many people that is good enough. They may not believe in God, but they also don’t believe in excluding themselves from fun.
For others, particularly atheists who have been brought up in nominally Christian countries, Christmas is an ingrained part of their lives. From an early age these people had prayers at school, learned the bible stories, saw priests involved in society and celebrated Christmas every year. That they later decided they didn’t believe in God in no way nullified their formative experiences. They rejected the creed without rejecting the social importance of the traditions anod festivals that accompany that creed. Again, some Christians find this hard to accept. How, they ask, can someone take pleasure in lying to themselves. They answer is of course that the Athiests are not lying to themselves. They know they are taking part in what is for them nothing more than a bit of social theatre that is enjoyable. Since it has very little ‘meaning’ for them, it is consequently no big deal.
Christmas for Athiests is part of the social glue that holds society together. When they think seriously about it, they do so from a non believers perspective. As a result they focus on the social and societal aspects of Christmas and fund worth there.
For other atheists who are rather more hung up about religion and as Atheists, don’t feel comfortable with the trappings of Christianity; they can look at historical research and point out the pagan origins of many Christmas traditions (Christmas trees, Christmas puddings, Yule logs, the twelve days of Christmas… It’s a long list) and convince themselves that they are not really even celebrating a Christian festival at all. This is an argument that is pretty much impossible for Christians to argue against because it has the weight of truth on its side.
Some Christians find this hard to stomach and come up with nonsense such as believing that an atheist singing “Oh come all ye faithful” means they are not really an atheist at all. Most atheists don’t get upset by such tosh, because they just don’t see what the big deal is.
When the end of December comes around we all get together and party. Beliefs are important for some and totally irrelevant for others. The important thing is to get together, respect each other and have fun.