Why atheists can celebrate Christmas

Why atheists can celebrate Christmas November 28, 2012

Christina here…


There is a sentiment floating around this (and every) holiday season. It goes something like this:

Twitter screencap of people saying atheists are hypocrites for celebrating Christmas.

I find it funny that atheists I know still accept Christmas presents. Hypocrites.

— Princess Problems (@PrincessPrbs) November 26, 2012

How does it make sense that atheists celebrate Christmas? It doesn’t. “I don’t believe in you but let me celebrate your birth” #hypocrites.

— CáitlinMarie (@CaitZamp) November 23, 2012

When atheists celebrate Christmas #what#hypocrites#retarded#pissmeoff

— Jordan Sanford (@jsanfordd) November 22, 2012


I celebrate Christmas with my family, and have done so since I was born. Every year, my family (including my parents, siblings, grandparents, great aunts and uncles, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, and adopted family friends) gathers at my house to visit, eat tons of food, sing karaoke, play pool, exchange gifts, drink alcohol, and have a good time. We put up a Christmas tree and hang lights on the house, and my dad hangs lights up at the entrance to the subdivision.

My family celebration is mostly devoid of any Christian religious imagery except for an angel we put on top of the tree because my mom thinks it’s pretty. When I was young we set up an old nativity set under the tree: a set in which baby Jesus, Joseph and Mary had long been broken and discarded. My siblings and I played with the camels and sheep. Santa and his reindeer got mentioned frequently: Jesus, not at all. Christmas traditions in our family exist not to celebrate Jesus, but to bring joy to our family and give lasting memories to the members of our family.

What, exactly, is hypocritical about atheists celebrating Christmas?

Jesus is the reason for the season clip artDumb atheists, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus: I see, so anyone who celebrates Christmas but isn’t Christian is doing it wrong. That would make Jews, Muslims and Buddhists hypocrites too if they celebrate Christmas. Does this work for other religions as well? For example, if a Christian participates in Passover with his Jewish friend, is he being a hypocrite?

My family does not celebrate the birth of anybody’s Christ. We don’t have to.

Christmas is a Christian holiday, don’t you know: It’s also a secular holiday with pagan roots. I guess this means that if Christians put up Christmas trees (pagan) burn yule logs (pagan) or have a big potluck dinner (pagan) caroling (pagan) kissing under mistletoe (Druid) they’re being hypocrites too! The epic gift-giving bonanza has really only been around for a few hundred years

It’s hypocritical for atheists to get presents on Christmas: Why? The gift-giving tradition didn’t begin with Christianity, it began with solstice festivals. The early Catholic church even tried to outlaw gift giving. Besides, I both give and get gifts: usually I spend more on my friends and family than they spend on me, so it’s not like I’m being “selfish” somehow.

By celebrating Christmas, [atheists are] turning their back on their principles by celebrating a religious holidayThe principals principles atheists have vary, just like the principals principles theists have vary. Maybe an atheist has a standing principal of refusal to celebrate any religious holiday. If that’s the case, then yeah, they’d be turning their back on that principal if they celebrated Christmas. However, I don’t think most atheists have such principals.


Christmas is both a religious holiday celebrating the birth of Christ and a secular/cultural holiday celebrating cultural and family traditions. People can, and do, take from Christmas whatever they prefer, including nothing at all. My grandpa has dementia, and this very well may be the last Christmas he spends with ours. I guess these Christians would have me stay home or work instead of spending time with my grandpa and the rest of my family.

There is no purity in Christmas: it is a crazy melting pot of tradition and history, culture and religion. To those Christians who believe atheists are hypocrites for celebrating it: Go ahead and hold Christmas hostage in your own family under the false guise of purity, but leave everybody else’s family alone to celebrate it as they see fit.


Learn more about Christina and follow her @ziztur.

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