I don't know if there are other atheists on the board; I suppose it is funny for me to come here, since I am not "spiritual." Still, I thought it might be more catch-all than that.
I'm in my mid-thirties and pregnant, and my husband and I are both atheists. As a teenager, I went through a year or two of refusing to celebrate the "Christian" holiday of Christmas, but this all changed when an English teacher explained the pagan history of the holiday. I wasn't pagan, either, but this seemed much better, and I went back to celebrating Christmas with my family after that. (Our tradition was the typical tree-and-presents affair; there was no Christian or pagan spirituality involved.)
Now, as a Mom-to-be, I feel like the "Christ" in Christmas is staring me in the face again. I am beginning to notice that my atheist friends don't celebrate Christmas without reservations; they say, "I'm atheist, BUT I celebrate Christmas," as if there is an inherent contradiction. I am noticing, as if for the first time, that some of the nicer Christmas carols are Christian, rather than pagan or secular, and my mother in law just gave me a children's Christmas book that has a tiny bit of Christianity in it. She gave it to me with an, "I hope it's okay, because it's just a little bit" disclaimer, and my concern is not really that she plans to push Christianity on the child, but it has emphasized that, yes, Christianity is part of the modern practice of Christmas, even if that is not where the holiday's origins lie.
I thought of building our own, more pagan-themed, traditions to de-Christianize Yule/Christmas for our child, but upon looking into that, the obvious fact that pagans are not atheists became apparent. I do not especially want to introduce my child to pagan god(dess)-themed ceremonies, although if they are going to be aware that Christianity exists (which eventually they are), I definitely want them to be aware that other religions exist, as well.
I think what I was hoping the pagan tradition would be, would be more like, "Isn't it great that there are trees that stay green all year, that life lasts through winter, that light is returning, and that we can come together for warmth?"
Atheists, do you have any traditions that help you keep religion out of Christmas or Yule? Do you think there is any value in calling it Yule, or some other name, instead of Christmas, or is this pointless and confusing?
Pagans, do you have traditions that are nature-themed rather than god(dess)-themed, that you wouldn't mind sharing with an atheist like me?