Christmas Hodgepodge

A few random threads on Christmas all in one:

  • Guess who celebrates the holiday?

    Scientist and atheist Richard Dawkins has admitted he does celebrate Christmas — and enjoys singing traditional Christmas carols each festive season.

    ‘I am perfectly happy on Christmas day to say Merry Christmas to everybody,’ Dawkins said. ‘I might sing Christmas carols — once I was privileged to be invited to Kings College, Cambridge, for their Christmas carols and loved it.

    ‘I actually love most of the genuine Christmas carols. I can’t bear Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and you might think from that that I was religious, that I can’t bear the ones that make no mention of religion. But I just think they are dreadful tunes and even more dreadful words. I like the traditional Christmas carols.’

  • Jesus wasn’t the only deity to be born on what we now call December 25th. Turns out the date was a popular date for the birth of other ancient Gods, too.
  • Slate’s Torie Bosch talks about the joy of celebrating a godless Christmas:

    Even without believing in the divinity of Jesus, I think that I mark the holiday the same way as many of the faithful — a time to donate to causes I believe in, to welcome the winter from the comfort of a warm home, and, most importantly, to reconnect with family and friends. It’s not that I dislike or have anything against religion. I admire, even envy the faithful, and I don’t consider myself an atheist. But I can’t fake a religious feeling I don’t possess. And I’d rather celebrate Christmas my way — with gifts, a tree, and eating and drinking too much — than to lie to myself and to whatever god is out there by hypocritically going through the sacred motions of the traditional holiday.

  • NPR ran a short piece on HumanLight yesterday.

    The secular holiday known as HumanLight began eight years ago. And while there are no set traditions, many of these gatherings use familiar rituals such as singing and candle lighting to highlight reason and human achievement.

    Because humanists don’t have a bible or religious doctrine, there’s no right or wrong way to celebrate HumanLight. Gary Brill, who co-founded the holiday, says the parties are usually family occasions. However, some humanists ignore the holiday, saying it feels too much like religion.

  • Marty Beckerman explains why the Festival of Christ is *way* better than the Festival of Lights.

(Thanks to everyone for the links!)

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Jesus wasn’t the only deity to be born on what we now call December 25th.

    I’d be careful of that site to which you linked. Looking at some of the claims about Horus raises red flags:

    –born of the virgin Isis-Merion

    Isis was Horus’ mother, but no virgin. Horus was conceived from the union of Osiris and Isis.

    –his earthly father was named “Seb” (“Joseph”).

    Errm, wasn’t Horus’ father Osiris? And what does “Seb” have to do with Joseph. anyway?

    –called “the KRST,” or “Anointed One.”

    Quoting from a review of Tom Harpur’s book The Pagan Christ:

    KRST is the word for “burial” (“coffin” is written “KRSW”), but there is no evidence whatsoever to link this with the Greek title “Christos” or Hebrew “Mashiah”.

    As for Mithras, I recognize a few problems as well:

    –born of a virgin on December 25 in a cave, and his birth was attended by shepherds bearing gifts.

    He was born from a rock, and the iconography has him attended by two torchbearers, but not shepherds.

    –had 12 companions or disciples.

    I’ve seen this claim in Freke and Gandy’s Jesus Mysteries. It’s justified on the thin grounds that scenes of Mithras are surrounded by the 12 symbols of the Zodiac.

    –the “great bull of the Sun,” Mithra sacrificed himself for world peace.
    – buried in a tomb and after three days rose again.
    –resurrection was celebrated every year.

    These are flat out wrong, too. There’s no evidence from the mythology of Mithras that he even died, let alone was resurrected.

    This looks like urban legend material.

  • http://thebitchreport.blogspot.com/ Milena

    I hate Christmas music – all of it. Comes from working retail this time of year.

  • http://learninfreedom.org/ tokenadult

    Atheists of all people ought to be skeptical of a list of deities born on December 25th listing deities that date back to before the current Roman calendar. How do you make dates match up between different calendrical systems? That blog entry is an epic fail, and would make me think that critics of Christianity are just making up their objections. “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Atheists of all people ought to be skeptical of a list of deities born on December 25th listing deities that date back to before the current Roman calendar.

    You’re right. I hadn’t thought about how nonsensical it would be for Horus, Tammuz, or Buddha to be born on any day related to a Roman calendar. Good catch.

    Did anyone notice, BTW, that Dionysus and Bacchus are listed as separate personages, despite being names for the same god?

    That blog entry is an epic fail, and would make me think that critics of Christianity are just making up their objections.

    Indeed. This is the sort of stuff that for a while made me think that atheists were just throwing up bad faith arguments to justify their unbelief, and as I think I’ve said before on this blog, it was an obstacle to deconversion.

    Mr. Mehta, I know that you call yourself “Friendly Atheist” not “Friendly Skeptic,” but please, couldn’t you be more, well, skeptical?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Mr. Mehta, I know that you call yourself “Friendly Atheist” not “Friendly Skeptic,” but please, couldn’t you be more, well, skeptical?

    I’ll do my best :)

    In this case, I didn’t get a chance to verify everything myself, but thankfully, people are pointing out problems with it.

  • Maria

    I agree with Dawkins. that’s how I feel too.

  • Freak

    I thought I was strange for being an atheist yet preferring the more religious songs to the secular ones.


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