How I Feel About Christmas

As it is Thanksgiving in the US tomorrow (although we don’t celebrate it here in Australia), I thought it might be an appropriate time to discuss how I feel about Christmas, especially as I am an atheist, along with the fact that the launch of my new online store and DVD have obviously been timed for it.

First of all, there are the obvious practical and commercial considerations: this is the time of year when sales will be maximised, and my fans simply want and expect new stuff to be available from me at this time, so I obviously have to respond to that. However, even though I don’t personally believe in Christmas itself, I still think it is a good thing to have something like it at this time of the year. Indeed, I’m sure that even if humans never invented religion, we would still invent something like Christmas. I think many of us need some time off at the end of the year to take a break from work, and reflect on the year that was. I also think it is appropriate that many of us will wish to spend that time with family and friends. However, this is where I start to disagree with Christmas as it is now.

For one thing, the natural desire of many people to spend time with their family at Christmas has become an obligation. This not only takes the fun out of it, but also potentially generates enormous amounts of stress—we don’t all get along with everyone in our family, and Christmas is often the one time of year when we are forced to come together. Even worse, it makes those people who don’t have a family to spend Christmas with feel left out, lonely or even rejected by society. This potentially creates enormous stress as well, particularly as the modern world is becoming increasingly single.

Perhaps the biggest problem of all though is the fact that the desire of many people to give gifts to their loved ones has been replaced by an obligation as well, and often forces them to buy gifts for people they don’t even like! This is obviously an enormous problem for those in financial hardship. And even if you have plenty of money to spend, choosing the right gift for somebody else can be a hugely difficult task in itself. Will they like it? Do they already have it? Is it appropriate? Are you spending the right amount of money? The list of headaches goes on. No wonder more people run into financial difficulties at Christmas than at any other time of the year. And even worse, it is also the time of year when there are the most marriage breakdowns, murders, suicides and violent crime.

I would really like to see these negative elements taken out of Christmas. First of all, I don’t think there should be any compulsion to buy gifts for other people. Of course, you can do so if you want to, just as you can at any other time of the year. If anything, I think people should be more focused on buying something for themselves—after all, you know exactly what you want, as well as what you can afford! And we certainly should not be compelled to spend time with people we don’t like—the holidays should be a time for people to do what they want with the people they want to do it with. If that happens to be family, of course that’s fine. But if you’d prefer to spend time with your friends instead or even just by yourself, that should be fine too. In short, the holidays should be a time for us to release our stress in any (legal) way we see fit, not give ourselves even more stress on top! Plus of course, as an atheist I would like this time of year to be a completely secular celebration.

And if you’d like to follow my suggestion of buying something for yourself for Christmas, might I suggest a little something from my online store. :-D

Tags:

I totally agree with your thoughts on Christmas.

We cannot avoid it either unless we go where there are no other humans; it is shoved in your face and your ears.
They start playing carols in the shopping centres from mid November and the decorations go up at the end of October now, so it is impossible to avoid.

I was told by a barrister at the Magistrates court, that the first court day after Christmas is the busiest day of the year due mainly to domestic disputes, including homicides.

  
Quote
  Reply

Originally Posted By porkar
I totally agree with your thoughts on Christmas. We cannot avoid it either unless we go where there are no other humans; it is shoved in your face and your ears. They start playing carols in the shopping centres from mid November and the decorations go up at the end of October now, so it is impossible to avoid.

Oh yes, I forgot about that: I think Christmas carols should be banned from all public spaces! ;-)

  
Quote
  Reply

people can buy the hole year things they need or what they want give their family and friends
if they like to do it more in the Christmas time…why not?

and it can be for you a special day even if you dont believe in the Bible or Jesus
thats unique

but i need for Christmas feelings cold weather^^
and special the children loves snow on christmas
in Australia thats maybe a bit different ;)

  
Quote
  Reply

I got a really nice vibe when I read this: If anything, I think people should be more focused on buying something for themselves – after all, you know exactly what you want, as well as what you can afford!

And the link to your online store is a really nice touch.

Thank you.

  
Quote
  Reply

I’m glad you feel that way Loverboy: I thought linking to my store might be called a shameless plug! :-D

  
Quote
  Reply

It wouldn’t bother me if Christmas went away. It really wouldn’t because it is the one time of the year I absolutely dread because of all the traffic with everyone doing their Christmas shopping. Every road and highway that has a mall, stripmall, or any other retail outlet closeby is going to be packed with traffic all day and night long for about a month before Christmas and about two or three weeks after Christmas when all those gifts go back to the stores for refunds or exchange.

I tend to do my shopping all year round as needed. I’ve never had the need to wait ’till Black Friday when all the stores drop their prices for Christmas. Main reason is I don’t buy that much anyway for the savings to make a difference worth justifying all the headaches of dealing with the traffic, checkout lines, and screaming kids, plus I do more online shopping.

I also hate traveling by air during this time because the airlines are at their worst. Every plane and airport is packed. So more lines, screaming kids, .etc. Then you have to deal with luggage issues. Seems like everyone has a carry-on, laptop, backpack, and shopping bags from the duty-free shop. Unfortunately these planes aren’t designed with that much overhead/underseat storage but most people try to carry every piece of junk they own on these planes.

Ironic things about Christmas:

* It takes place on the same date as some Pagan holidays and events most notibly are the Winter Solstice and Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (the birthday of the unconquered Sun, an ancient Roman holiday).

* It’s also not even the birthday of Jesus because that date isn’t mentioned in the Bible, but the events that describe his birth put it in the Spring not Winter.

* Christmas was outlawed by the Puritans in Boston from 1659-1681.

* George Washington attacked the Hessian mercenaries during the Battle of Trenton on Christmas of 1777. Since Christmas wasn’t that popular in America as it was in Germany, the Hessian mercenaries would be celebrating Christmas instead of planning an attack.

* By the 1820s, Christmas was believed to be dying out so writers like Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol), Clement Clarke Moore (Twas the Night Before Christmas), and others wrote the Christmas stories that gave Christmas it’s current meaning. Some say “Twas the Night Before Christmas” was the story the popularized the tradition of exchanging gifts and seasonal shopping began as an economic importance.

With all that said and done, I’m taking a break and waiting for my DVD to arrive, hopefully before Christmas. :D

  
Quote
  Reply

Originally Posted By JohnFourtyTwo
Ironic things about Christmas:

* It takes place on the same date as some Pagan holidays and events most notibly are the Winter Solstice and Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (the birthday of the unconquered Sun, an ancient Roman holiday).

Actually, I don’t think this is a coincidence at all: I believe that Christians deliberately co-opted the Pagan winter solstice to become Christmas, so as to maximise the popularisation of their religion.

As for the rest of your comments, you pull out some very interesting historical tid bits as usual!

  
Quote
  Reply

Originally Posted By Sachiko

Originally Posted By JohnFourtyTwoIronic things about Christmas:

* It takes place on the same date as some Pagan holidays and events most notibly are the Winter Solstice and Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (the birthday of the unconquered Sun, an ancient Roman holiday).

Actually, I don’t think this is a coincidence at all: I believe that Christians deliberately co-opted the Pagan winter solstice to become Christmas, so as to maximise the popularisation of their religion.

As for the rest of your comments, you pull out some very interesting historical tid bits as usual!

Right you are, Sachiko! The most important Christian holidays are adapted from older pagan holidays, Xmas being pasted on top of the Roman Saturnalia; Easter on top of Jewish Passover (There was also a Roman Springtime festival at that time to celebrate the renewal of spring, but I can’t find the name of it at the moment). If you research them, you’ll find that most of the modern items that we associate with these holidays tend to stem from pagan origins:

Xmas trees- from pagan origin; as they are evergreens, they do not shed their leaves, symbolizing that which does not perish, even in the cold of winter
Easter bunnies-also from pagan origin; symbolize the fertility and birth we normally associate with springtime
Eggs(Easter)-pagan, represent birth and renewal

I also agree that there is a fine line the holiday season walks between being overly commercialized, secular v. religious, family v. single, but I think that is necessarily something that would have developed with this season, regardless of which religion (if any)’s moniker were put on it.

This is a winter season (in the Northern Hemisphere) & therefore daylight gets less, people become more depressed, & certainly in older times would turn to their families & friends for warmth & compassion. Of course, as this gradually became institutionalized through religion, it seemed to take on a bit more of a burden through the years. Perhaps nowadays with worldwide communication being what it is, the actual physical presence of one with family isn’t quite so necessary. One can skype them, and send them packages via post.

I won’t be spending this Xmas with my folks this year. Personally, I find it a bit liberating, as I can save some money on presents, and I can use the time with my wife to go somewhere & do something WE really want.

As far as your comments about Xmas carols go, though, I like the singing, it’s probably one of the most stress reducing parts of all the season. If you are going for the ‘no religion in public’ angle, that’s poppycock as well: a great many of the songs have no religious mention in them (Deck the Halls & Good King Wenceslas are good examples), and if other religions wish to sing at their respective holidays, I’ll have no quarrel with that.

  
Quote
  Reply

Originally Posted By sagredo
As far as your comments about Xmas carols go, though, I like the singing, it’s probably one of the most stress reducing parts of all the season. If you are going for the ‘no religion in public’ angle, that’s poppycock as well: a great many of the songs have no religious mention in them (Deck the Halls & Good King Wenceslas are good examples), and if other religions wish to sing at their respective holidays, I’ll have no quarrel with that.

Actually, the reason I’d like Christmas carols to be banned from public spaces isn’t about religion: it’s just that hearing the same silly songs over and over again – every year – is extremely annoying!

  
Quote
  Reply

Oh, ok, sorry I misunderstood. I thought you were serious. ;)

  
Quote
  Reply

If you’ve got a lot of people in the extended family at Christmas it’s a total pain to get everyone a present… we draw names and each of us gets something fairly nice for one other person instead of a bunch of small presents to make sure everyone is gifted.

I perceive that my hatred of Christmas music has slowly decayed over the years, but a solid month of hearing it every time I go out will be a good test of that.

  
Quote
  Reply

Yes, the placement of Christmas was very deliberate.

I have a hatred of some Christmas songs due to many, many years working in the retail industry at that time. The same twelve or so songs would play on a loop and here I am working an eight hour shift. Therefore, I go nuts when I hear certain songs. Bad, bad memories.

I like the pagentry of Christmas. I am a pagan after all so I definitely see it as my holiday, usurped by (as opposed to shared, which would’ve been fine, but their God is so damned jealous!) Christianity. But as much as I like giving AND especially receiving gifts, I hate the compulsion placed on people to exchange gifts when they don’t mean it. There is nothing worse than receiving a half-hearted gift bought with a half-assed consideration.

But the one thing I dislike about this time of year is that my birthday is on January 5. That’s right, I used to get the “double-gift”, the “Merry Christmas/Happy Birthday” gift of, like, socks or some such. It’s two different days, people! I’ve a couple other friends whose birthdays are in December or the first week of January and it’s the same story.

  
Quote
  Reply

I feel for you Aspasia, my birthday is on Monday, & I never get a solo card. It’s always Thanksbirthding, or Xmas/Birthday. It’s not so bad anymore, as there is little worth celebrating about my birthday at this age.

  
Quote
  Reply

@Sagredo: You’re alive. That’s always a lot worth celebrating! :)

  
Quote
  Reply

Originally Posted By SachikoI’m glad you feel that way Loverboy: I thought linking to my store might be called a shameless plug! :-D

Noooo

The shameless plug (if one could call it that) was when he called himself Loverboy.

No one else here got called Loverboy by Sachiko !!!!

I assume it is just a term of endearment, huh?

Michael

  
Quote
  Reply

I quit handing out lumps of coal a long time ago and so that took care of relatives. Mom gets something cuz she’s nice. After that, a few people got a pound or two or three of chocolate, here and there around the world. And a long time friend in Asia somewhere that is a swim coach got a cross back racing swim suit since she is a coach and that is her uniform.

Other than that, nothing really. Sachiko, would be getting a surprise in the mail from Wicked Weasil or The-bikini.com or one of those places except I don’t know her address… hmmnnn it might be on the demo cdrom dvd..

hmmnnn I don’t remember if I kept the package with the addressing…..

Michael

  
Quote
  Reply

The holiday visit scene with in-laws (etc.) and heavy travel plans can be exquisitely unpleasant and stressful for struggling young adult couples (with or without kids). That would be the most painful stripping away of any pleasant childhood “innocence” that I can remember, supposedly in service of righteous sociology. It seemed like one the most severe of all cultural “coming-of age” rituals, worse than traditional college fraternity hazings, and about on par with joining a street gang or a prison cell block in some cases.

Alone and in Nature somewhere, on the other hand, the inclement weather (hot South or cold North), and holiday social preoccupations of most would-be fellow “users” can make for a great escape. One can find peace in some most unlikely lonely places, in a setting of unsuspected beauty and simplicity.

  
Quote
  Reply

Originally Posted By Sachiko

Originally Posted By JohnFourtyTwoIronic things about Christmas:

* It takes place on the same date as some Pagan holidays and events most notibly are the Winter Solstice and Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (the birthday of the unconquered Sun, an ancient Roman holiday).

Actually, I don’t think this is a coincidence at all: I believe that Christians deliberately co-opted the Pagan winter solstice to become Christmas, so as to maximise the popularisation of their religion.

As for the rest of your comments, you pull out some very interesting historical tid bits as usual!

Hi Sachiko!

You and sagredo are correct. I was trying to point out the hypocrisy of the Christians but I worded it wrong. Roman Emporer Constantine was credited for making Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire over the Pagan religion of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti which he was the Head Priest of.

From what I’ve read, he did it basically because he was a good businessman and saw Christianity on the rise with no stopping and simply put his money on the winning horse.

He stayed a Pagan ’till his dying days when he was converted to Christianity against his will while lying on his deathbed. Thereafter Christians began singing the tune that he converted to Christianity at the time he changed Rome’s official religion, not years later.

As for the usual tid bit of historical information, I’ve been told by many people over the years that I’m a wealth of useless information. :D

I got the DVD and was very surprised I got it so soon because I’m on deployment in the middle of the Indian Ocean somewhere. I wasn’t expecting it ’till sometime next year. I’ll post more about this over on the DVD page.

  
Quote
  Reply

Many good points have been made about how Christians took over pagan holidays. I am an Atheist and hate the rabid commercialization seen during Christmas Season. I also think Thanksgiving here in the US is too much of an Overeaters Anonymous Day. I do like the ideas of people peacefully celebrating the natural seasons of the year here in the Northern Hemishere, which are basically what so called “Pagans” were already doing here. There is no reason why these celebrations cannot be secular in nature. For example: It would be great to celebrate the end of the year on the shortest day of the year. We could even go to a more natural, 13 month, lunar calendar. Injecting the mythic creatures of happiness(Mr. & Mrs. Klaus, elves, and flying reindeer) and the joy they bring to Kinder and Adults alike into the dreary cold year end is just plain good social psychology. Then to celebrate Springtime, the time of renewal and burgeoning life makes everbody happy(Here Comes The Sun)! Celebrating Summer when the Livin’ is easy at the beach or Lake or River like happy whales or otters. And of course Fall is the Harvest Festival which we have no one to thank but ourselves for the blood, sweat, and tears we’ve shed. One thing I would love to experience is living in a totally free and secular society. Unfortunately, pre-history and written history tells me that due to the many flaws in human nature, that is an utter impossiblity. But as of this moment, I find myself very fortunate to be able to reflect upon and enjoy the serene beauty in the photographs of the lovely Sachiko. Question: Sachiko, have you recorded “Imagine” by John Lennon?

  
Quote
  Reply

Thanks for your kind words Robert! I’m sorry to disappoint you though – I never have learned to sing Imagine. Perhaps I should. :-)

  
Quote
  Reply

@Sachiko – Even if you find it does not suit your voice, you could play just the music on your piano. It is a very peaceful song. I want to thank you for making your photos available for use as screen savers and background on my laptop. The one of you standing with the hoop in front of you as a large O is one of the most artistically stunning in your collection. And the symbolism of the big O……could it be: One World Orgasm?

  
Quote
  Reply

That’s certainly an interesting concept! :-D

  
Quote
  Reply