It’s the most Solstice time of the year.
We are now fast approaching that wonderful time, commonly known as the Holiday Season. After recently seeing Jeff Dunham’s recent (and hilarious) holiday special, about 6 times, something Walter (one of his puppet personalities) said, captures the feelings of a lot Christians who feel that there is an awful “War on Christmas” and that their (silly) beliefs about a god-baby being born, are being oppressed. I may sound harsh, but let me tell you about the joke in question. ” Jeff: Happy Holidays! Walter: Ya know, I’ve been meaning to say this for a few years now. Screw you, it’s Merry Christmas! (audience cheers) Jeff: But Walter, there are other religions. Walter: Yea, and they’re wrong!.” Although this may not be exact, it’s close enough to make the point. I find it curious that Christianity can take this kind of attitude about other religions yet they are the ones being oppressed and everyone is conducting a War on Christmas. Now, this blog is not going to do what many similar blogs have done and expound on the debauchery of the history surrounding Christmas. This has be done ad nauseam. Here, I’d like to talk about the taboo subject of: Christian Intolerance.
To all the moderate, i-don’t-hurt-anybody-with-my-beliefs/they-aren’t-REAL-Christians Christians, I’d like to inform you that, yes they are “REAL” Christians. If not only because that’s a judgement call your religion isn’t supposed to be making in the first place. Who are you to decide that? (“Judge not lest ye be judged” ringing a bell?) And secondly, if you aren’t speaking out or against the following, you’re an enabler and are just a guilty.
First, Happy Holidays to all. I say this, not to be politically correct, but to show tolerance for the beliefs of others. It may seem strange to some of the more religiously inclined, to hear that from an atheist. There are many holidays going on at this time of year. The most prominent of them are Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. I’ve had people ask me over the years, “So if you’re an atheist, does that mean you don’t/can’t celebrate Christmas?”. This is a loaded question, to some extent, so I’ll try and give the most informative and satisfying answer I can. (*Please note: I do not speak for all atheists, the following is simply my personal account of my celebration practices and does represent, in totality, atheists in general)
After researching the origins of Christmas, which I celebrate for its material value (not its religious value) for many years as an atheist, I found that most of the practices of the tradition (ie the tree, the decorations, Santa and so on) weren’t Christian at all. So yes, I do, in a sense celebrate Christmas. On the other hand, Christmas, being stolen almost outright from the Pagans for northern Europe, has a more real meaning in the way it was originally celebrated. The people of northern Europe equated Winter with death. Who wouldn’t living there in those days? The reason for the tree, specifically a fur tree, was because the people of northern Europe observed that those tree were about one of the only things that didn’t die in the Winter season. Thus, it came to be a representation of life overcoming death (sound familiar to anyone you’ve heard of?…See Easter ;-) ). Thus, the tradition began of bringing a fur tree into one’s house as to bring this representation, to them the power, of life. They did this around December 21st because that is the date of the Winter Solstice. This is, amazingly enough, the time when peoples of the day could notice (because they had no cities to obscure their view) that this was the shortest day of the year and that Winter was going away, however slowly. This was the cause of great celebration. It meant that soon, but never soon enough, they would be free of the death that was the cold and snow of the season. Therefore, I, for similar, although not identical reasons, have decided that this celebration is quite a bit more valid than celebrating the mythical birth of a mythical person that more than likely never existed at all. So the short answer is, I celebrate the material part of Christmas (the presents, who doesn’t like presents) and the naturalistic side of the Solstice. So, I guess you could say I celebrate Solstmas. This is a legitimate holiday to celebrate. Not to sound too conceded, but again, it is my opinion that celebrating the Solstice or Solstmas, is far more legitimate than lighting 8 candles for a seemingly random display of pageantry or reminiscing about events surrounding a mythical baby-god, that probably never happened in what is today Israel.
However, do not take all this to mean I believe that if you DO celebrate the holidays I consider invalid and illegitimate that you should stop. It is only my opinion and I am entitled to it. Further, this is a subjective matter about which neither of us is right or wrong. This is where the joke that Jeff tells, with his character Walter comes into play. It’s not so much that Jeff, as Walter, says this. It’s the fact that the audience, upon hearing this, erupts into cheers, as if he made a valid point, which he most certainly did not. Holidays are not a matter of right and wrong. Their origins often contain facts which are subject to such boolean objectivity, but their practice of them a purely subjective matter. Therefore, I implore to those of you who believe that “Happy Holidays” is somehow a phrase meant to keep you from having your traditions and celebrations, to not be so judgmental. Stand back, look in the mirror and try a pair of shoes on that you’re are unfamiliar with, see how they look on you, see how they feel, maybe even walk around in them a little bit. Then, Merry Chis-ma-han-a-kwanz-ica it up all you want. Because when you say “Merry Christmas!” to me, I’ll reply (with good intention), “Merry Solstmas!” to you.
Happy Holidays to everyone!
Metro State Atheists
A CFI Affiliate/SSA Member/COCORE Member