How to Decorate Your Tree Like a Good Atheist

Because I’m cheap frugal, I’ve never had a Christmas tree since coming to adulthood. While I haven’t missed it, I know that some people just aren’t willing to have a winter season without their holiday decorations. But, as an atheist, what are you to do with all the Baby Jesuses or, really, even the Santa Clauses? Doesn’t he promote blind faith in something ridiculous as well?

As it turns out, there seems to be a certain protocol for atheists decorating their Christmas trees, and it all starts with the tree topper. No angels or stars of Bethlehem here! However, don’t let that fool you into thinking you can use just any ol’ thing. As religious folks may say seriously, and as I’m putting forward jovially, atheists have their gods too and these are what should adorn the top of our trees this season:

Spock. I realize he’s not a supernatural being but, as skeptics, can any of us really deny having an awesome respect for Vulcan logic?

Power-Up Star. In my estimation, you pray to the Power-Up Star by punching the brick it’s hidden in. Then it goes inside you and makes you awesome!… for a short while. So, while not a major god, the Power-Up Star is more like a minor deity or devil, playing tricks on you so you’re more likely to run around like a crazy person then fall down a hole.

Yoda. He’s a little green man who can move stuff with his mind and carries a sword made of light! If those aren’t god-like descriptors, then I don’t know what are. Get, you must.

(We like Yoda so much, there’s even another one here!)

Not last, but most probably least, there’s Satan. I’m sure there’s a fair group of people who would call this our god and expect us to have him on our trees.

I’m also sure that there’s another group of people who would get great enjoyment from watching the first group foam at the mouth.

Cthulhu. He is an Elder God, after all. And doesn’t placing his horrific likeness in a prominent location of your home mean you’re a cultist?

Of course, no list would be complete with the Flying Spaghetti Monster. A fake god of the fake gods; our current, ultimate I-don’t-believe-in-gods god. This tree topper will mark you as the atheist-in-the-know for Christmas, and all of your unbelieving friends will be super jealous of you.

So remember: When waging your War on Christmas, you must make sure to take the blasphemy all the way to the top of your tree. It seems the ungodliness will trickle down from there in the form of bacon, microbe, or circuit board ornaments.

If you have a tree this year, how are you decorating it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/DocMonkey Mick Wright

    If I put one up, I’m putting this on top of it! http://i752.photobucket.com/albums/xx170/Buddhabright/Gunpla%20And%20Stuff/100_2438.jpg

    I think I’ll take its rifle away first, though…

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    To the shock and horror of his 1st grade class, my child made the following Christmas angle which we always put up on our Christmas tree!

    I don’t actually know if it caused any drama in class but my wife and I like to think it did.  :)

    This picture is from our tree this year set up in our living room.

    • Trace

      Nothing says Christmas like a vampiric cherub. I like it.

    • http://profiles.google.com/meganfluevog Megan Edwards

      Or is it Mr Henky the Xmas Poo?

      • Daniel Voisin

        If it is Mr. Hanky, whoever plopped him into this world needs to see a doctor about their kidneys. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aggie-Smith/100002847127443 Aggie Smith

    We made our own Flying Spaghetti Monster for our tree topper.  My kids are finally all confirmed atheists, so I don’t have to play along with any traditions to keep people happy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=649813048 Nicoline Smits

    So why shouldn’t atheists
    celebrate Christmas? I put up a Christmas tree and lights because those
    are pagan symbols, and I’ve even added a lighted star in the window in
    recent years because I like how the Jews, unlike the Greeks and the Romans, weren’t afraid of heavenly portends, thanks to their Babylonian
    captivity. I would have gone to a performance of the Messiah if I
    hadn’t had to go a funeral, I sometimes attend church on Christmas eve,
    because Christmas feels more like Christmas when I’ve heard “And it came
    to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar
    Augustus…” etc. A vestige of childhood indoctrination, I know, but
    there it is. We don’t always do presents, but we have an all-day dessert
    buffet. I identify as an atheist nonetheless. I know some people argue that atheists shouldn’t celebrate Christmas, but I don’t think we should just leave Christmas to the christians as though they’ve bought the franchise or something.  Most of the things we now consider “traditional” at Christmas have little or nothing to do with Christianity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7T8Y1-VLjGQ&feature=share

    • Trace

      You’ll find many of us LOVE Christmas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-J-Spart/1414300126 Matthew J. Spart

    How about Darwin on top of the tree? After all, according to the fundies, we worship him…

  • Trace

    This year we just have lights (LED, mind you) on the tree and a fairly traded beaded wire gecko from Kenya on top.

  • Kat Cox

    Our Natural History Museum has a dinosaur baby coming out of an egg puppet they use for the “star” on the tree. I love this symbolism. 

  • http://evolvedmonkeys.blogspot.com/ Evolved Monkey

    What about getting a Festivous Pole? Simple, and you don’t have to worry about any decorations.

    • Anonymous

      Festivus, for the rest of us! 

      Who can resist the “airing of grievances” ritual? :)

    • rhodent

      Forget the Festivus Pole.  This is the ultimate Christmas decoration for the nonreligious:

      http://www.redriderleglamps.com/images/products/26-Leg-lamp-christmas-story.jpg

      • http://evolvedmonkeys.blogspot.com/ Evolved Monkey

        You know, I was going to get a tree, then looked into a Festivus Pole, but I think the Major Award wins! I am going shopping today for one. :)

  • Pickle

    We still use a star on top. Honestly, I’ve never really thought about using anything else. I suppose one can say the star symbolizes astronomy or science in general. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the star of Bethlehem.  I have to say, though, I really dig the Spock and Cthulhu toppers. The rest of our tree is just a mash up of different ornaments. Pokemon, The Beatles, Snoopy, one from the park where we got married, one from our trip to Indonesia, etc.. and lots of generic glass balls and snowflakes.

    • Anonymous

      That is the best collection of ornaments to have… when we got married, we bought pretty red and silver ball ornaments for the tree and put on the 3 we got for wedding gifts.  Over the years, we’ve managed to omit almost all of the ball ornaments as we’ve collected ornaments from our travels, made homemade oraments, Lego ornaments the kid made, and pop culture ornaments (Star Trek, Star Wars, Powerpuff Girls, Pokemon, etc.).  For me, that’s the only way to decorate the tree… with our life, not some superstition.  And we have a gaudy light-up star on the top… no other way to go.

  • http://profiles.google.com/bgporter Brett g Porter

    Beavis and Butthead are ringing in xmas at my house: http://picplz.com/user/bgporter/pic/b4jjk/

  • Melrodiq

    I have to complain about this article because not all atheists are “geeks”, we are not all into Comic-Con and stuff like Star Wars or Star Trek. As long as you’re not putting up a Nativity scene, there is no harm in having a tree or participating in other *gasp* traditional holiday activities. Sugar cookies anyone?

    • Bob Becker

      Exactly right.  C’mon H, give it a rest. If Santa is part of your family’s Christmas tradition, nothing wrong with continuing that because it is the family tradition.  Our family Christmas tree is topped with “the drunken angel.”  A very old angel tree top ornament that my mother threw away [or tried to] about forty years ago when I was away. Came home and raised hell. Dug it out of the trash, sent it to a craft shoppe for refurbishing.  She’s been tilting a bit to starboard for the last two decades  [hence our Drunken Angel], glitter gone from the sagging wings, but Christmas in our non-believing household without our Drunken Angel at her tree top post is unthinkable.  

      • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

        Picture please!

    • Coconut

      Haha, true. But what would you propose for non-geeks? Heart? Snowman? Doesn’t make as fun a post, though. :|

  • Evan Kelley

    For the past 5 or 6 years I’ve had a small 2-foot fake tree that I just put up on my mantle. It’s decorations are just a few silver bows, tiny silver-wrapped packages, white lights, and pine cones sprayed with a silver trim. The topper is just another one of the silver bows. Sometimes I haven’t bothered to put it out at all, and when I do it’s only to help me try to feel more festive.

    A couple times I’ve also draped some evergreen garland entwined with more white lights around my living room window with a nice red bow at top. 

    • Anonymous

      That’s beautiful… very festive and not overdone.  We decided this year to formally do Solstice or rather, Quiznox, instead of Christmas.  Last year, we did unwrapped gifts handed to each other… it felt more loving and personal than unwrapping or saying something is from Santa (which I don’t have a problem with but the kid is older now and we don’t need to do that anymore to see the excitement on his face).  So I think we’ll head to Whole Foods and grab one of their little rosemary trees, put it on the mantel with bows and a small strand of lights, our gel candles from Alaska on each side, and we’ll celebrate Quiznox in style.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=649813048 Nicoline Smits

      Exactly! Why does it even have to be figurative? Here’s what my tree looks like: http://72.81.128.84:31416/cgi-bin/photos/phdisp?imageid=20101127-200040

  • Daniel Krull

    I made my own Cthulhu topper for the tree my brother and I set up (we’re both atheists). I already had some sewing knowledge, so this only took about 2 hours or so total, and it cost $2 in materials.. ^_^ So much more affordable than that $120 topper on Etsy, and mine has wings ;P. (Also, yeah, it’s lacking other decorations, as all of our normal ones are in storage atm)

    http://i706.photobucket.com/albums/ww66/Lain_of_the_Wired/Tree.jpg

  • Coconut

    As much as I love Mr Spock, and I would so put that Mr Spock star atop my tree, I have no respect for Vulcan logic, — I have respect for real logic! Vulcan logic isn’t really logical half the time.

    But fun post! I really like the microbe and circuit board ornaments.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0120a5509de8970c Mikko

    i haven’t had a yule tree in my home for over a decade

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=57508266 Beth Presswood

    I have a white tree decorated with all candy cane and peppermint ornaments. The topper is a giant peppermint on a stick.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=57508266 Beth Presswood

    I have a white tree with all candy cane and peppermint ornaments. The topper is a giant peppermint on a stick.

  • Annie

    We have a lovely yeti, made from Tibetan wool that we grace our tree with, when we put one up.  We also use ornaments of animals, plants and planets.  We have fun looking for ornaments over the years that match our rather limited selection.

  • mkb

    Pretty prosaic, but I have a bird at the top.  In fact, lots of my ornaments are birds.  They seem to belong in trees.

  • Charles Black

    Another good choice would be the Doctor from the TV series Doctor Who?
    At least he seems to be a demigod at least but is really an extraterrestrial.

    • Austin

      That is a very good point.

  • charminggoats

    My best friend made me a Death Eater themed Christmas tree a few years ago, and I’ve used it every year since. I’m the only person I know with body parts dangling from my tree and a dementor on top. http://www.flickr.com/photos/shaebay/sets/72157610298801639/

  • Mike andLa

    We got this snowman star at Target about 10 years ago.

  • Anonymous

    Here is an interesting anti-christmas perspective:  The Trouble With Christmas
    http://youtu.be/TsPqYPqphXk

  • Colleen Speed

    I have spent way too much time trolling the internet trying to find an atomic symbol for the top of my tree. I can’t find one, why does this not exist yet for atheists!  Also finding a snowflake that isn’t hideous and look like a star of david also proved a challenge. As of now my tree is wearing a sombrero from Chevies with a toque to make it more wintery. 

    • Colleen Speed

      *doesn’t look like the star of david

    • Annie

      Ah!  Next year I will sell these on Etsy!  I’m getting ready to leave the country for a while, but when I return, I will start working on the design.  “Better than a yeti”, will be my sales slogan. ;-)

      • Colleen Speed

        Excellent. I’ll be waiting!

    • http://twitter.com/thelittlepecan Alana (aka Pecan)

      Pics or it didn’t happen.

      • Colleen Speed

        I’m currently a continent away from my tree so pictures will have to wait. 

  • M G

    I don’t always put up a tree…depends on my mood. But every tree I’ve ever put up since I was a little girl has had a simple blown-glass finial on top.  Mom & Dad had one, I bought one when I went out on my own, and it’s just our family tradition. And the lack of any religious significance is just a bonus.

  • Anonymous

    I like this tree. . . 

  • Secret Agent Woman

    I decorated my tree like a Christmas tree.  Are atheists not allowed to have stars and Santas and so on?  The tree is a pagan symbol anyway, but even if it weren’t I don’t accept that we can’t revel in the metaphorical meaning of Christmas and the Advent themes of hope, joy, love and peace.  My children, who are both outspoken atheists, are traditionalists when it comes to Christmas.  I don’t believe in a god but I also am not going to live my life as a reaction to others’ belief in supernatural beings.

  • Brittany

    I just saw a tree on Tumblr that had a Gandalf topper. 

  • Chad

    I haven’t yet thought of an FSM topper! I will conspire–er–plan to make one for next year. So far, I still have a crocheted angel my mom made, along with all the icicles and snowflakes she made over the years. After her death 4 years ago, I’ve put the angel on top for sentimental reasons, though that may change. I do at least put Hot Wheels and toy airplanes on the tree like a good boy of 30 years.

  • Anonymous

    I like a bow on the top, lots of instrument ornaments, and of course, the eye of ra.  The flying spaghetti monster ornament will definitely be my next craft project.

  • Monica

    Love that the Power-Up Star made this list. It’s what will be gracing the top of our tree this year, though that’s more a statement of geekhood than of our atheism. Our tree also features a leg lamp ornament and lots of penguins. What? I like penguins.

  • Dan W

    The tree at my house is decorated with lots of nerdy ornaments. I have 5 or 6 Star Wars ornaments, a couple of Indiana Jones ones, a Gandalf ornament, and a Batman ornament. Plus several other random ornaments from when I was a kid. All of those top-of-the-tree ornaments look great.

  • http://www.missaliscakepops.com Alicia

    I’ve had a simple silver sparkly star for the last five years or so but it wasn’t until the last two that I started crashing my Star Wars X-wing fighter into it. And now, that’s where it’ll always go. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-A-Anderson/100000016895400 John A. Anderson

    Two words: Dead babies.

  • Joules
  • Nena

    I have a steampunk Christmas tree this year. It’s awesome.

    • Anonymous

      Picture please?

      • Nena

        It was hard to get a good photo of it. There are small gears hanging on several branches that don’t show up at all…

  • http://cranialhyperossification.blogspot.com/ GDad

    My tree topper is a fez (yay, Doctor Who!), and my brother has Queen Amidala topping his tree.  Pictures forthcoming as soon as I can obtain them.

  • Ally P

    a miniature bottle of Jim Beam

  • Tanit-Isis Sews

    My mother pioneered the areligious Christmas in my family, and I’ve mostly followed her lead, I guess. Growing up, we always had a star on the top of the tree; I guess my mom viewed it as nonspecific enough to pass muster. She wouldn’t allow an angel. My daughter brought home a great little sparkly star made of tongue-depressors in kindergarten, so that’s at the top of our tree now. Who doesn’t like stars? We do have a fair number of angel ornaments—I don’t buy ornaments, so the ones we have are either gifts, homemade, or crafts the kids made at school. Angels are my husband’s favourite mythological creatures (I’m a dragon person, myself), so they don’t really bother me. Although dragons on the tree would be very cool.

    This past summer, we found some Ganesh statuettes in the creek, so one of those is tucked in the tree, too. I’m thinking it would be fun to collect ornaments/symbols from a bunch of different religions that celebrate the things “Christmas” mean to us—family, generosity, sharing, love.

    Despite my mom’s anti-angel stance, she did have a nativity scene (I assume it was a present from her parents or someone else she didn’t want to overtly piss off). I remember playing with the little figurines—mom, dad, baby, guys in dresses, guys with sheep—and asking who they were. She would dutifully tell me a bunch of names, but “Baby Jesus” wasn’t a character I was familiar with, so I never really got it.

  • walkamungus

    Very traditionally, with lots of sparkles and gold cord! Many little handmade ornaments (lots of mice, for some reason), Santas, birds, wreaths, bells, stars, animals, snowmen, candy canes, etc., etc.  About half the ornaments are from my childhood, and about half I’ve bought as an adult. This includes the little plastic nativity set my parents bought for 49 cents at a drugstore the year I was born, which gets in on Sentimentality Points. The tree topper is a glittery peacock; as any good guide to symbolism in Christian art will tell you, the peacock stood for the “all-seeing Church.” As an atheist from birth, I enjoy the “Oooh, sparkly!” without worrying about the church part.  :)

  • Nazani14

    Just put the cat up there, it’s going to get up there anyway.

    Best tree I ever saw:  I walked into a Chinese restaurant that had just opened, and they had a tree that was decorated with little wooden German style Easter ornaments.  My heart leapt with joy, for I knew the owners were so culturally unaware that they had not yet  ruined their dishes to meet American tastes.

  • OBSirius

    We have an FSM topper (hand knit by me!), and are working on a Pirate Creche.  We shop in the grocery store for those mini Baby Bels and edams,  and they go under the tree (or in the creche when done) — our own Little Baby Cheeses.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Sweet/1280927267 James Sweet

    Our tree is decorated “normal”, with the star and everything.  The nativity story, as preposterous as it is, doesn’t really contain any objectionable elements.  I suppose if one wanted, one could read a negative message about marital fidelity and honesty, but since in the time period it would have been just as likely that a hypothetical historical Mary was raped and needed to conceal it lest she be punished herself, we’ll give her a pass on that one.

    So for us it’s a fantasy, no worse than Santa.

    I did Google for “FSM tree topper” a couple weeks ago though :)  A little pricey for me!  I like Aggie smith says they made their own.  Cool!

  • http://profiles.google.com/beanecojoe Ribeana Suds

    I didn’t have any ornaments so I took a page out of PZ Meyers’ book and created a pipe cleaner cephalopod for my tree topper. I bought some chai-scented pine cones on the cheap and tied them (upside down but they look nicer) on the branches: an idea I got from Jen (of Epbot & Cake Wrecks fame). Than I cut up my 2010 Cake Wrecks calendar and made ornaments. My tree now has ornaments that say things like “Wears Man Thong”, “I didn’t like you that much anyway”, “Somewheres” (over a rainbow) and “Huge Me”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shawn-Wilson/689835491 Shawn Wilson

    My wife made this last year.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shawn-Wilson/689835491 Shawn Wilson

    My wife made this last year.

  • Karen Locke

    I put up a little tree with fiber-optic lights on the branches and top.  Any ornament, topper or not, would become a Cat Toy in the middle of the night.  But for years, before we were acquired by such unruly cats, we used a lighted star.  Growing up, my mother always insisted on an angel as a tree topper, and I hated it; it exuded cuteness and I’ve always hated cute. (Except in kittens and puppies.)

  • Catelyyn

    I made a fabric sculpture dragon years ago and that is who winds around the top of our tree. We have ornaments of the characters of the old stop motion Rudolph, Japanese temari ornaments my mother and I made and a very odd collection of ornaments chosen by my kids. Every year I buy them one new ornament and there’s absolutely no rhyme or reason to what they pick although they seem to prefer glittery things.

  • Anonymous

    Mine looks like any regular christmas tree I suppose, with spheres, lights and on top a *huge* bow… just like a giant present, because getting together with the family and exchanging gifts is what christmas is about, no?

  • SH

    our tree has a Bumble on top…look what bumble can do!  Rudolph brings back good memories for both of us and we smile whenever we see it.  Of course, we also have a bunch of other ornaments that we choose simply because we like them


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