Some of you may be wondering, what does an atheist celebrate on Christmas? And the answer is: family, friends, and the winter solstice, just like the rest of you.
Most well-informed people know that no one knows when Jesus Christ was actually born, and there is no reason to believe it was in winter. The December 25th date for the birth of Jesus was most likely chosen because it arrives very close to the Winter Solstice. How we got to the 25th instead of the 21st isn’t actually known. Theories abound, including that it has to do with the ancient Roman festival of Dies Natalis Solis Invciti.
This isn’t an issue I’m going to weigh in on as it doesn’t really matter to me. And again, most well-informed people know that there are a lot of pagan traditions in Christmas, starting with the tradition of the Christmas tree.
Let’s be honest, for most Americans Christmas is not a particularly religious holiday. Oh, many Americans appear at church on Christmas, just like Jews appear in temple on their high holidays. But mostly it’s about family and gift-giving and celebrating the end of the another year that we managed to get through. (And let’s face it, this year there was a lot to get through, LOL!)
And so it is with atheists. I grew up in Germany, where Christmas is a much bigger deal than here in many ways. For one thing, Germany closes down for three days: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. For another, the holiday was actually celebrated on Christmas Eve. And we didn’t have Santa Clause delivering the presents but the “Christkind.”
So I do the same thing most of you do: I celebrate the end of the year with family and friends.