Non-Christians celebrating Christmas? Reconciling the hippocracy... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 02:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OK, I'll try to make this fast and simple.

I was raised (casually, liberally) Protestant, until I was a teenager, when I was pretty much allowed to figure out my own spiritual/religous path.

I don't really consider myself to be a Christian now, but everyone in my family (parents, sib's, extended...) is Christian and we all celebrate Christmas in a big expensive commercialized chocolately cholesterol filled way!! Gift exchanges, get-togethers, tons of food, etc.

Part of me feels a little strange participating in what is essentially a "Happy Birthday Jesus" party. I just don't consider myself Christian, because I don't shape my life around living as Christ lived.

OTOH, I'm not anti-Christian. I do think Jesus was a powerful, wise, charismatic, (probably psychic) man who did a lot of cool hippy socialist things in his day. But I equally "take in" the values and teachings of other spiritual leaders as well, (including Nature itself).

So...
Is anyone else in a similar situation - celebrating only the secular aspects of Christmas, without being truly Christian? Do you feel guilty or weird about it? Have you added or eliminated parts of "traditional" Christmas to better suit your own beliefs?
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#2 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 03:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kamilla626
Is anyone else in a similar situation - celebrating only the secular aspects of Christmas, without being truly Christian? Do you feel guilty or weird about it? Have you added or eliminated parts of "traditional" Christmas to better suit your own beliefs?
Count me in but I'm a second generation secular Christmas celebrator. I'm not even a non-practicing Christian either ~ I’m just totally not one.

I don’t feel guilty about celebrating Christmas but I would feel guilty going to Mass on Christmas Eve or something like that. I just see it as part of my family tradition and I'm fine with it being just that.

We'll keep the tree with the cocktail straw angel, stockings!!, manger scenes, homestyle traditional foods and Santa. I'm in Germany for our first Christmas since we've moved here so we'll try to incorporate some new traditions from this experience.

I have made an effort to bring some more 'meaning' into what Christmas is for me by focusing on family, down time, the 'important things', and a little charity.

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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#3 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 03:18 PM
 
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I don't see a conflict because I don't see Christmas as primarily a Christian holiday. It's essentially a long-standing winter festival upon which has been laid many meanings and many symbols by many people for many reasons over a very long period of time.

Enjoy!
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#4 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 03:18 PM
 
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I give solstice gifts to my family. I send merry winter type cards to relatives or some years I send New year cards. I do not visit the mall between Nov15 and Jan 15. Nothing will get me there and I keep my kids as far away from it as possible. Some years I see my family and some years I don't. I do not pretend to love or celebrate a holiday that isn't mine. End of story.
If you celebrate, I hope you "feel" it spiritually. Not just buy all you can to show your wealth stuff.
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#5 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 03:30 PM
 
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My impression about Christimas here in the US is that it is mostly becoming a big comercial stunt more than anything, so I know of many people Christian and non-Christian alike who are just getting fed up with it...

However, I think it is still possible to turn Christmas into fun and cozy event even if one is not a Christian. In Scandinavia, where only 5% of the population practice Chrisitanity, they still make a BIG deal out of Christmas, celebrating it the whole month of December, and it is for the most part pretty independent of Chrisitanity - they have celebrated this time of year when the days begin to get longer for centuries anyways (it is really worth celebrating considering the days are so short that in the winter!!!) My kids really love the Christmas calendars, Christmas Danish candles and all the ooold traditions of it. And it is definetely not as comercialized as it is here.

I just hate the whole comercialized aspect of Christmas and totally understand why a non-Chrisitan person would not see the point of celebrating it. But having experienced the Christmas in Scandinavia with DH, I know how fun and hyggeligt (cozy) and occasion it can be regardless of one's religion.

Maybe, if you find yourself bombarded by Christmas, you could take the opportunity to use the days off to get together with your family and do something different and fun. Some of my friends are giving rach other gifts that will go to charities. Other will work on soup kitchens those days.

If I were not a Christian, I think I would still do some kind of winter celebration anyways mostly because of my kids. Winter are so long, and it is nice to have some cheering up with a lot of lights and fun things to do in the middle of it.
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#6 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 03:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I do "feel it" when I celebrate. I don't feel the connection to God or Jesus that other people might feel, but I definately enjoy being with family, Christmas Carols, sharing food, etc.

But sometimes I feel like I'm cheating - enjoying all the "benefits" of Christmas without going to church, saying grace before dinner, etc.
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#7 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 03:46 PM
 
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Not to stir the pot but....

You needen't feel bad. Christmas as it's celebrated in December is actually a Pagan holiday. The dates were co-opted from Candlemas in order to have more people convert to Christianity. That's why many hardcore Christians choose not to celebrate Christmas.
It's believed Jesus was actually born in the summer. I've had some very interesting conversations with ministers about this.

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#8 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 03:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is all actually making a lot of sense.

And I DO remember hearing/reading that Jesus was more likely born in the late spring or summer.
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#9 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 03:56 PM
 
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Although I am an observant Christian (Episcopalian) it doesn't really bother me overmuch that people may have more secular celebrations. I've known unobservant persons of many faiths who marked holy days for more cultural reasons, which (in my opinion) are just as compelling as faith reasons. Their celebrations, to me, were just as "honest" because they were coming from a place of earnest desire to honor who they are from where they came and to also celebrate the community in which they live and/or have placed themselves.
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#10 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 04:04 PM
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I just go as far with it as I feel comfortable. We are putting up a tree (with a root ball, which we plant afterwards, like last year) b/c I love having a little piece of Mother Nature come into my house for a month each year - and it's fun to plant them in January (dh doesn't think so though - those root balls are heavy!) We each get each other one meaningful gift. I have required my mother (who is German and goes NUTS at Christmas) to give dd only ONE gift - I don't care how much she spends on her - but only one. We don't do Santa. She saw a giant blown up Santa in Lowes the other day and asked about him. I said "That's Father Christmas (dh is English and that's what they call him). He's a pretend jolly fat man in a red suit who symbolizes joy and giving during the holidays." That was enough for her. She just thought he was fun to look at. She didn't ask anymore questions.

I hope this year to incorporate some solstice / pagan rituals into the holidays and have those become family tradition. No church for us, except maybe our local UU church.
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#11 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 04:13 PM
 
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Another non-Christian who celebrates Christmas. I believe that a celebration of family and light during the darkest time of the year is essential to every culture. So if you wanted to get technical, I’m probably really celebrating the solstice, but I don’t make a big deal about technicalities. The rest of my family happens to call their winter celebration Christmas. I was raised with certain traditions surrounding the winter holiday that are normally associated with Christmas and therefore those traditions have meaning for me. The ones that are overtly religious, I excuse myself from. I don’t attend mass. I don’t have a manger scene among my decorations. I just don’t think our different religious beliefs should prevent our family from sharing a joyous celebration. So we exchange gifts. Have dinner together. Some of my family goes to mass, while others of us stay home and watch cheesy holiday movies. Some of my family sees this time as a celebration of their faith. Others of us see it as a time to celebrate renewal. But in the end, we all see it as a time to celebrate family. The fact that we approach it from different perspectives just doesn’t matter that much in the grand scheme.

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#12 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 04:25 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaDaednu
Not to stir the pot but....

You needen't feel bad. Christmas as it's celebrated in December is actually a Pagan holiday. The dates were co-opted from Candlemas in order to have more people convert to Christianity. That's why many hardcore Christians choose not to celebrate Christmas.
It's believed Jesus was actually born in the summer. I've had some very interesting conversations with ministers about this.

~Daednu

This was my understanding too. So in our house we kind of avoid most of the Christian symbols. I love the idea of Winter solstice celebrations (I think a lot of religions have some version of this, too, although not to the ridiculous extent of Christmas) and I really like naturey (not a word, I know) type decorations anyway. I kind of wish we could avoid the whole Santa Claus thing too but my Mom loves it.

I also avoid the Mall like the plague and try to buy all my gifts before thanksgiving.

That being said, I was raised Christian and I still beleive in God and think Jesus was at least a great teacher. I just think there's a lot more to it than what's in the bible. I've studied a few other religions and plan to study several more.
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#13 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 04:27 PM
 
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Nodding along with Pumpkin here ...

If you peeked in our windows during the "Christmas season" you might conclude that we were celebrating Christmas. We have the tree, we absolutely cover the living room in cedar, gold stars, candles, holly, we cook a big feast with rich traditional foods, we unwrap presents (only a few, we keep it very noncommercialized).

But for us it's a ... I like the term festival as some PP used it .. it's a time to bring light, warmth and plenty into the middle of a season that's bleak and chilly. It's also our time to celebrate that the nights are getting shorter. I'd really like to celebrate Longest Night (the night of the solstice itself) by holding an all-night party, then greeting the sunrise. So far it hasn't been feasible, but I'd love to make it a tradition.

We also have stockings on Christmas morning. I explained to ds that this is because Daddy and I both grew up having Christmas stockings, and we wanted to keep doing that in our family. Weinachtsman, the German equivalent of Santa, fills ds' stocking.
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#14 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 04:36 PM
 
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DH and I are both agnostic atheists. I was raised atheist. My family always celebrated Christmas growing up - in a secular way. No Christian symbols. My family, DH's family, and my foster family all celebrate Christmas. Only about half of them are Christian. DH and I decided not to do Santa Claus. But, we have a Christmas tree, gifts, stockings, etc. We visit with most of our family members, eat a lot of food, and enjoy the company. It's a celebration to us, and a time to show our friends and family members that we appreciate them. It's Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Jingle Bells - not Silent Night and Joy to the World.

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#15 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 04:39 PM
 
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As others have said, that time of year was originally celebrating something else, so I don't see any hypocrisy there. I never pretended I was celebrating Jesus' birthday, once I became old enough to know the history.
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#16 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 04:41 PM
 
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Wiccan mama here (we do the winter solstice rather than Christmas) but I understand what you mean. In my experience there is a spiritual/religious Christmas and there is a secular, cultural christmas. I grew up with the religious/spirtual Christmas. We lived at church for a week (lol, well nearly. My mom was the church's cook and childrens leader) There were lots of candlight services, concerts, and the children's play. It was literally a celebration of Jesus. The other half of my family, and tons of people I know celebrate a secular, cultural christmas. They may or may not be Christians but they get together, do the gift thing, have a meal etc.

The roots of our holidays go deep and in a few different directions. Celebrations morph and evolve. My immediate family observes the Winter Solstice, but our extended families observe a secular, cultural christmas. We just make it a week of celebration here and there. Do what you feel good about and comfy with. While *I* honor the return of the light to the year, someone else can honor the birth of Christ, and yet someone else can just enjoy seeing all their family and sharing a good meal...all at the same party

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#17 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 06:40 PM
 
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I aim for a spriritual Solstice and a happy family oriented cultural Christmas.

I see no hypocracy in this, only in those of the Christian persuasion who try to claim that this holiday their religion co-opted belongs Only to them. Fortunately most Christians I've run into in RL know enough of their religion's history to not be so arrogant and rude. Otherwise I just privately chuckle at the ones so willing to advertise their ignorance. What else is there to do?

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#18 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 06:54 PM
 
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our christmas really does not involve celebrating Jesus' birthday.

we do the tree, and dinner, and presents.

but we don't talk about Jesus or anything.

it never bothered me.

kind of like the "Rudolph the Rednosed Reigndeer" movie, that is christmas - jesus, and it doesn't bother me.

I believe in Jesus, but I must confess, that we don't involve our chirstmas with that belief. and I am fine with it.
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#19 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 06:55 PM
 
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Speaking as a born again Christian... I do find it odd that non-christians celebrate Christmas and Easter. However , I also find it odd when I see Christians participating in Halloween. It seems anymore that any holiday...whether you belong to that faith or not....is a reason to get together with family. I know non-christians whose biggest holiday is Easter. Eggs , bunny , spring decorations , family dinners , parties , etc... And I know Christians who make a deal about "fall parties". Decorations , costumes , chocolate , family dinners ,bonfires, etc... To each his own.
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#20 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 07:04 PM
 
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We celebrate, mostly because both dh and I were raised with it. Both our moms are more religious than our dads so it was a good mix of go to church on xmas eve and santa hallmark stuff. So now that we celebrate with our kids we just skip the church on xmas eve and still do all the hallmark,santa good old commercialized holiday stuff. I'm not an athiest, I still believe in G-d just not organized religion.
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#21 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 07:18 PM
 
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(Hippocracy? Rule by the Hippos.)

I'm agnostic and I don't find it hypocritical to celebrate Xmas. The Roman Catholic church picked Jesus' birthdate to be Dec. 25 in 336 a.d. to attempt to convert the masses who still wanted to celebrate Saturnalia. For me, Xmas is about family. DH is military and so was I not to long ago. The holiday season is the only time we're able to go home. We're able to see our loved ones, celebrate and have good time, regardless of our religious affiliations.
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#22 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 07:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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[QUOTE=chersolly](Hippocracy? Rule by the Hippos.)

:LOL

Shows ya what I know! I was thinking of the word "Hippocratic" and figured it would be spelled similarly. Oh well.
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#23 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 09:23 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pumpkin
I believe that a celebration of family and light during the darkest time of the year is essential to every culture.
Oh, shoot. This was going to be my contribution. We're in the same boat, though we usually use the term "winter holidays" or "solstice" to describe our festivities. We do choose to use Dec. 25 as "the day" because it seems silly to choose one different from most of our friends and acquaintences just to be different.
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#24 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 09:50 PM
 
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Well for us Christmas is primarily a time for family, to remind one of the value of giving without necessarily recieving, and a good time for a party in the dead of winter. It's all those things.
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#25 of 59 Old 10-20-2004, 10:28 PM
 
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I do find it odd that non-christians celebrate Christmas and Easter. However , I also find it odd when I see Christians participating in Halloween.
Jen, Halloween is a Christian holiday. Halloween is shortened from All Hallows Eve, the eve (night before) All Saints' Day. Why wouldn't a Christian celebrate it?

The timing derives from a Celtic holiday that predates their conversion to Christianity, but the same is true of Christmas (a Roman holiday though) and Easter.

Why the distinction?

We celebrate the above because they are at this point cultural holidays, and we also see the layers of spiritual meanings not exclusive to Christianity. Fou us Halloween is purely secular, not a bit holy. Samhain OTOH, is the spiritual holiday for us, and our anniversary, and has nothing to do with candy or evil or any of the rest of the trappings of Halloween.

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#26 of 59 Old 10-21-2004, 12:08 AM
 
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#27 of 59 Old 10-21-2004, 12:24 AM
 
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Okay, here's my contribution on this subject. We do celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. I realize that Jesus was probably born in the summer/warmer months, but we believe that when we celebrate a *birth*, we are also celebrating a life, so we honor His Life, not necessarily His Birth, YKWIM?

But on the other side, my sis and her dh are Islamic. She converted after they got married, and we are expected to buy gifts for all of their children as well as the other cousins who are practicing Christians. Now, if this was a get together kind of thing, I could understand it, as it would be unfair to her children if all the cousins got gifts and hers didn't. But I haven't seen my family for Christmas since my ds was a year old, and he's now almost six. But, yet, still, every year, my sis sends out a *discreet* email, letting everyone know what her kids sizes are and what their interests are, usually sometime in October. And my parents "So what are you getting the cousins?" so as to not have multiple gifts. It infuriates me. They don't recognize Christ as the Savior, fine. Then why do they expect us to celebrate Him with them. For the gifts? Cheap, shallow and just plain rude, IMO.

I've asked my parents for an explaination and all I get is that it would hurt her feelings if we didnt' all buy gifts for her kids as well. She and I don't really speak much anymore, due to some other issues, and yet, every year, my mom asks me what we're getting her kids for Christmas. She doesn't recripocate, since they don't have the $, and that's fine. I don't buy my kids a lot for Christmas, and *if* people ask what they need, I tell them to donate to their college fund/savings account/etc. I certainly don't volunteer sizes and/or interests in a solicitation of gifts.

Anyway, I wonder if anyone here can shed some light on this for us.
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#28 of 59 Old 10-21-2004, 01:04 AM
 
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As a Christian, I have a hard time celebrating Christmas because it appears to me that it is more of a cultural holiday than a religious one. At least that's the way it's celebrated in the US these days. I have no problems with non-Christians celebrating Christmas as a cultural holiday. What I DO have an issue with is the consumeristic mindset that is entwined with the idea of Christmas. ugh.

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#29 of 59 Old 10-21-2004, 01:24 AM
 
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I celebrate Solstice, we have a family gathering on Solstice eve with a big meal and in the morning we open presents. So the day we do this always changes. I do buy gifts, I just want to I geuss. Some years it is alot of stuff, some years it isn't much. I just do what feels good to me. We have a tree, but I have had mixed feelings about it. I believe that originally people decorated the live trees outdoors and then somehow it changed to bringing a tree indoors. I'm not sure how I feel about the tree deal. I used to get cut trees, but then I decided I felt weird about playing a part in this poor trees death. So I put up a fake tree. That seems ok, but also still very strange. I think I want a live tree to plant, but I don't have that kind of money.

I do go celebrate Christmas with my side of the family, they think I'm a freak for celebrating Solstice And for them it is a huge commercialistic event. They plan out and ask about gifts way in advance. I usually make them something or put some thought into something personalized to them. But for my mom it is like *Oh you want this movie, right, and this book right blah blah*. It's like, yea, I do want those things, but I would much more enjoy something you actually thought about and it really fit me. I mean LOTR is a damn good movie, but I would have bought the extended version myself, it didn't have to be this thought out plan on what to get me!

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#30 of 59 Old 10-21-2004, 01:30 AM
 
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I was raised as a Hare Krishna by a Jewish mom. We use Christmas to have an excuse to bring the family together. The gifts happen if we see each other but are no big deal if we don't. That is, no one really mails gifts. But we all tend to get into the wintery/christmasy spirit of decorating our homes and a tree. We also make a big feast. My mom's sister is still a practicing Jew so she does Channukah and we go to her house for at least one of the days. No one worries about gifts though. Basically, we just use it as an excuse to eat lots of good food and get together as a family. My mom was raised Reform and said they had a channukah bush anyway
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