From Alternet:, by Greta Christina
” It’s often assumed that the atheist position on what is politely termed “the holiday season” is one of disregard at best, contempt and annoyance at worst. After all, the reasons for most of the standard winter holidays are supposedly religious — the birth of the Savior, eight days of miraculous light, yada yada yada. Why would atheists want anything to do with that?
But atheists’ reactions to the holidays are wildly varied. Yes, some atheists despise them: the enforced jollity, the shameless twisting of genuine human emotion to sell useless consumer crap, the tyrannical forcing of mawkish piety down everyone’s throats. (Some believers loathe the holidays for the exact same reasons.)…In fact, when it comes to the holidays, atheists are damned if we do, damned if we don’t. If we scorn the holidays, we’re called Scroogy killjoys. If we embrace them, we’re called hypocrites. Oh, well. Whaddya gonna do…I recognize and validate your entirely reasonable annoyance at the holidays….
Reason #7: Holiday traditions are comforting. The human need for tradition and ritual seems to be deeply ingrained.
#6: The holidays connect us with our ancestors…and with the earth and the seasons. In modern civilized culture, we tend to treat the changing seasons largely as a fashion challenge and an excuse to complain….But the changing seasons were a critically important part of our ancestors’ lives; a matter of life and death, watched and marked with great and careful attention. The winter solstice holidays rose up as a way to mark those changes..
#4: The War on the War on Christmas. Watching Bill O’Reilly and the Christian Right work themselves into an annual lather over the fact that (a) not everyone in America celebrates Christmas; and (b) some well-mannered businesses choose to recognize this fact by using ecumenical or secular holiday greetings…is some of the best free entertainment we could ask for.
Sure, it’s theocratic. Sure, it’s bigoted. Sure, it has its roots in anti-Semitism and white supremacy. But it’s also freaking hilarious. Watching these hypocrites twist themselves into knots explaining why America is a Christian nation and it’s the grossest insult to acknowledge the existence of other religions by saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”… and why this stance somehow isn’t shameless religious bigotry? It’s the best contortionist act in town. And like the circus, it comes around every year.
#3: The holidays connect us with the universe. Axial tilt is the reason for the season! For many atheists, one of the greatest joys of atheism is that it opens up an awe-inspiring world of science. It’s not that believers don’t care about science: many of them do. But the passionate love of science is a defining feature of the atheist movement, and many of us will take any opportunity to gush about the topic ad nauseam, usually in embarrassing, Carl Sagan-esque, “billions and billions of stars” purple prose.
And the holidays are another excuse to go gaga over the wonders of science. They’re another way to celebrate the fact that we’re living on a tilty rock whizzing through frigid space around a white-hot ball of incandescent plasma. Neat!
#2: The music.
And the number one reason for atheists to celebrate the holidays:
#1: For the same damn reason everyone else does. Because it’s dark and cold, and it’s going to be dark and cold for a while…so it’s a perfect time to decorate and light lights and celebrate the fact that we’re alive. Because we’re all going to be cooped up inside together for a while…so it’s a perfect time to have parties and give presents and eat big festive dinners and otherwise remind ourselves of why we love each other. Because this time of year can truly suck…so it’s a perfect time to remember that the cold and dark won’t be here forever, and that the warmth and light are coming back.