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cranky and weird.

Things I don't get about the whole "holiday season" - except Hanukkah which I'm cool with:

(For the purpose of not caveating every statement we're going to ignore the fact that the set date for Easter has nothing to do with Jesus and everything to do with existing fertility rituals that pre-date him. And we're going to ignore the fact that the set date for Christmas has nothing to do with the death of Jesus and everything to do with existing solstice celebrations - becuase Jesus was born in the spring)

Isn't the big deal about Jesus that he died in order to absolve humanity of its sins? Why celebrate his BIRTH? You should be having a wake for his DEATH (as far as I know, only Jehovah's Witnesses do that). But Easter is really only a huge religious focus/event for Catholics.

Why do atheists still give/receive gifts on Dec. 25th?

How do atheists square it with themselves to teach their children explicitly that god does not exist (in any form) but that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy do? Especially since two of those things are the weird secularized non-religious aspects of what are basically religious holidays. Like.. how is one set of "lies" any better or worse than another set?

I feel like casual atheism (I tolerate/teach religious holiday celebration when there are gifts involved or it's just more convenient) is just as disingenuous as casual Christianity (I believe in god/Jesus/the new testament, etc. when there are gifts involved).

Maybe I'm a fucking psycho - but reading people talk about their Christmas stuff as getting "loot" is highly appropriate and pretty disgusting at the same time.

I have a lot of weird baggage about Christmas - I think most people do. I think that's why there are such extremes of emotion about it. I know I'm certainly thinking way too deep and hard and angrily about it all.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
skreidle
Dec. 26th, 2007 09:40 pm (UTC)
I view it more as a time for peace/love/family/giving, and the receiving end is a nice bonus. :)
sinisteragent
Dec. 27th, 2007 02:20 am (UTC)
How do atheists square it with themselves to teach their children explicitly that god does not exist (in any form) but that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy do? Especially since two of those things are the weird secularized non-religious aspects of what are basically religious holidays. Like.. how is one set of "lies" any better or worse than another set?

Father Christmas and the Easter bunny are never used as justification for killing, wars, child abuse, etc. They also don't demand that you adhere to any particular dogma or code of behaviour, except maybe "be good", but even then it's optional.
maddening
Dec. 27th, 2007 06:08 am (UTC)
But Santa brings you presents on Christmas day. While it's a separate mythology - it's ridiculous to completely separate the two things.

The easter bunny is directly descended from the actual point of the spring holiday - fertility rights. The bunny leaves EGGS all over the place as a sign of fecundity. And that entire celebration and the spring time frame was appropriated wholesale by the early church as a means of winning converts. Kick out the bunnies and fucking, insert the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and you're good to go.

It's all tainted with the same ugly brush. And all of it is lying to your children - teaching them to believe in something you yourself are sure doesn't exist. And since so many of the atheists I've known have had very personal, angry experience with being lied to about Christianity (typically by overbearing extremists) in their childhood - isn't it doubly important that they not lie to their children about things like this?

For an atheist god is a lie - a figment of someone's imagination. So lying about something like the easter bunny (they're going to find out it doesn't exist at some point) is okay, but lying about god isn't because sometimes people who believe in god aren't good, nice, or kind (they're human).

I understand your meaning. I just think the cognitive dissonance is silly - especially for people who seem to be arguing for rationality in all things. Or maybe it's just in all things that are pet causes or things that don't personally benefit them.
sinisteragent
Dec. 27th, 2007 09:09 am (UTC)
But most people don't realise that it all stems from religious rituals, or choose not to think about it.

Very well put though, and you're quite right. I have long been of the mind that if I had kids I wouldn't do the father christmas/easter bunny stuff with them. However, it's easy for me to say that. It's entirely possible that I would cave and play along at least with christmas, if only so they wouldn't feel left out when all their friends are having fun (I know it's not clever to cave to peer pressure, but when it's something that arguably won't do any harm to the kid it's a tad different), whether I'd admit it now or not. It's pretty academic though, as I'm extremely unlikely to have any.
umbrella
Dec. 27th, 2007 11:33 am (UTC)
I'm more concerned about just how KFC has managed to convince Japanese people that it's the traditional place to eat at Christmas.
maddening
Dec. 27th, 2007 03:17 pm (UTC)
hmm... I don't think I've ever had a traditional dehydrated/rehydrated potato mash, fried chicken, and microwaved corn on the cob Christmas dinner. But I guess at least turkey and chicken are in the same species.

punkalicia
Dec. 27th, 2007 04:12 pm (UTC)
hee: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2007/12/26

some people get really weirded out when I express that dec 25 is totally meaningless to me. all it really means is that people are cooking big meals, and I get a day off, and that's something I can get with.

as for people celebrating christmas who arn't, I would kinda think it has to do with people (in general) liking tradition and ritual, and the human nature part of wanting to create that with your family, and it's hard when there is no formal reason to. so they co-opt the stuff they like and get to have a tree.

and i will say, decorating trees is kinda fun.
maddening
Dec. 27th, 2007 04:47 pm (UTC)
In my world tree decorating was one of the worst parts of the whole lead up thing when I was a kid. And I understand that it's just *easier* to go "well, all the trappings are cool and I like them, so I'll just ignore the stuff I don't agree with" - but for self described/staunch atheists it's soooo backward. And I'm not talking about people who are just atheist and don't make a big deal out of it - I'm referring to "fundamentalist" atheists. Yell and scream about the lack of a god sort of atheists.

Karl and I exchange gifts all the time. For both of us birthdays are more important than anything else because we're happy that we're both here. I'll bend for other people (Steph had Christmas dinner at her house. She's big on tradition and it really means a lot to her), but only for that. I have a really hard time receiving presents (I don't need anything, really), but I'm happy for the excuse to give them. But again - random gifts for friends happen throughout the year.

We were going to do Secret Santa stuff this year (since we're all broke), but one of Oscar's dogs developed bone cancer and had to have a leg amputated. So instead of getting gifts for anybody we donated money and paid for the surgery. We've been trying to convince everyone for years that they need to just donate to heifer.org in our name for gifts for us but they won't. It's fucking frustrating and sweet at the same time.

I just read a thread on the "Rational Response Squad" website where a bunch of atheists talked about how they have trees, drink egg nog, go see santa, etc. The whole kit and caboodle of the secular side of christmas. And I'm one of the haters they're whining about who think it's hypocritical.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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