Hi. I'm new to mothering.com, and I was very happy to discover this tribe. Both my husband and I are life-long atheists, and we are expecting our first baby in June. (Actually, it's my first and his second. I have a 20-year-old step-daughter.)
For us, religion is pretty much a nonissue since our immediate families aren't religious, although we do have some very religious extended family. The only problem I'm encountering is Christmas and Easter, but especially Christmas.
Christmas is a fairly big deal for my in-laws and my mother, although they celebrate it in a very nonsecular way. My father really doesn't celebrate it at all, which is a relief. My husband and I have never really celebrated Christmas in our home, but we participate in it at his parents' and my mother's homes.
Now, with the baby on the way, we've started to really examine how we want to handle these holidays with our child. We've come to the conclusion that we are going to continue not celebrating these holidays in our home, but we will participate in our parents' celebrations when we are in their homes.
These are the reasons why I don't want to celebrate religious holidays, and Christmas especially:
- Christmas is essentially a Christian holiday, even if it is celebrated in a secular way. As an atheist, I don't see why I would celebrate Christmas any more than I would celebrate Jewish, Muslim, or other religious holidays in a secular way.
- Secular Christmas celebrations tend to be overly commercialized and focused on buying gifts, which is not something I want to support.
- Many of our Christmas traditions are rooted in preChristian paganism, but following pagan traditions doesn't make any more sense to me since that is just another theistic religion.
- Some people, including my mother, say that they see Christmas as more of a solstice celebration than a religious holiday, but that doesn't make sense to me, either. The solstice is on (or near) the 21st, not the 25th, so why celebrate it on the 25th? Also, why should the winter solstice get so much more attention than the summer solstice or the equinoxes? I find the secular greetings of "happy holidays" or "season's greetings" equally odd. What makes this season so much more special than the others?
My husband and I have decided that we want to have some sort of family traditions with our child, so we are going to celebrate both solstices and equinoxes, but we are not going to make them pagan celebrations. We just like the idea of celebrating our natural world. We plan to make up our own traditions with regards to food, decorations, and activities. We might even have a small gift exchange, although nothing on the scale of typical Christmas gift exchanges.
My mom is having a little bit of trouble understanding our decision. She's willing to accept it, but I think she feels sad that our kid is going to miss out on the whole Santa thing. We haven't told my in-laws our plans yet, and I'm not sure how they're going to take it. I feel like we're being fair and compromising, though, in that we're not refusing to visit them on those holidays and celebrate with them to some extent.
Sorry for the novel. I just wanted to share my thoughts on the topic since Christmas recently passed and was a topic of discussion on here. I'm also curious if anybody else here is doing the same thing that we're doing when it comes to celebrating holidays.
As for sneezing, I've never understood why it's necessary to say anything at all when somebody sneezes. If I do say anything, I say "gesundheit", but even that feels odd and seems fairly pointless to me.
I loved Religulous. I'm currently reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, and I highly recommend it.