What's your secular equivelant to Christmas? - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-06-2009, 12:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Old 10-06-2009, 12:21 AM
 
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I had originally planned on making the Solstice our main holiday but then it turned into two holidays. Solstice for us and then X-Mas with the parents, after a couple years we abandoned the Solstice, just so much work to do have two holidays within days of each other. I still mark it as a special day but now just with a winter stew or cake. We just do a secular X-Mas now like what you described.

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Old 10-06-2009, 01:14 AM
 
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We celebrate Solistace/Yule. We do do a tree but keep it real simple no angel or star. We decorate the house w/other winterish stuff (cutt out snowflakes, snowmen,ect). We have a big dinner and exchange small, simple practical gifts. It helps that my mom (the only real family we have) celebrates too. We light candles, thank the earth and say a few "prayers"/rituals. Its relatively new for us too and keep working on it and adding to it each year.

My DH was also brought up Southern Baptist and myself Catholic so we are really trying to set our own traditions/rituals that are more in line w/what we believe instead of just what we do/are used to/ are the norm. We want to raise our children to know our beliefs and feel that doing Christmas just because everyone else does is not teaching them to be true to themselves and to confrom w/the rest. DH is norse in his beliefs and I am more undefined- but am Pagan and proud of it.

We are also looking into and finding ways of celebrating other holidays (Spring equinox, Sahmian, Candlemas) because they are important too. There are so many family festive things/ways to celebrate and start new tradtions.

As for celebrating w/family- my example is I have a freind who is Jewish and every year has a big Chanuka (sp?) party and invites family AND freinds of all faiths- I am not expected to convert for her party she just wants to celebrate w/her loved ones so we go and enjoy her holiday w/her and her family and learn about a different culture. Its a great way to teach the children. I would just celebrate w/your family at their house as a way of being w/them and of teaching that everyone is different- even family. You don't have to DO Christmas but you can be part of your family's day.
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Old 10-06-2009, 01:23 AM
 
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Our baby is still in the womb, but we're both atheists. And, I suppose what one would consider "recovering Catholics." So, we celebrate on solstice as we want to get away from the Christian association with the winter holidays.

Because solstice is so close to the New Year, we make it a celebration of life, of one another, of the past year. We celebrate past accomplishments and look forward to the new. Gifts are given because we want to show love/appreciation of one another.

We do decorate a tree, but in "secular" decorations, i.e. no angels, crosses, etc. And we try to make the decorations reflective of what we're celebrating. For instance, dp had a really great year in terms of his art being sold. So, this year, we'll put up some miniature paint brush ornaments, and other similar things. Also, we don't necessarily use a pine tree. Actually, often we use the potted palm in our condo, lol.

I'm really excited to do homemade decorations with our child!

This is how we plan to raise our child, in terms of the winter celebrations. We do have a large family who are Catholics. So, if we celebrate with them, it would obviously have to be on their terms. But, we're thinking that since solstice is before xmas, we can get our celebration in - and then just use our family's celebration as a way of teaching about various beliefs.

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Old 10-06-2009, 01:37 AM
 
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We do a big Soup and Solstice party with friends. No gifts. A tiny tabletop tree with handmade sun decorations and silly songs about sunshine and warmth. One year, I had a fire juggler come. So cool.

Try this book and see if it resonates with you....


http://atheism.about.com/od/bookrevi...lsticeTree.htm
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Old 10-06-2009, 02:06 AM
 
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We do Christmas. For us, it's a cultural/secular holiday, not a Christian one. I grew up with it, as did dh (his parents are Christian, mine aren't), and would miss it terribly if we stopped celebrating it. I see it as more of a Winter feast than anything else.

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Old 10-06-2009, 03:07 AM
 
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We celebrate Yule on the 21st, that's our 'family time'. We sing songs, open presents by the tree, have hot cocoa, the whole nine yards.

Christmas is when santa comes! The kids know santa isn't real, but it's fun to play along and we usually just relax and spend the day vegging out.

Yule is our special day though, it's awesome!

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Old 10-06-2009, 03:13 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
We do Christmas. For us, it's a cultural/secular holiday, not a Christian one. I grew up with it, as did dh (his parents are Christian, mine aren't), and would miss it terribly if we stopped celebrating it. I see it as more of a Winter feast than anything else.
This, exactly!

We do a tree, gifts, santa, good food and family -- and it has nothing to do with religion. DH and I are Agnostic/Atheist, but we don't skip holidays like Christmas and Easter because of our beliefs. We are just celebrating something different than others may be.

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Old 10-06-2009, 03:38 AM
 
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The Japanese use Christmas as a dating holiday.

What's interesting, according to manga (yeah, I know, but this one was pretty realistic to things I know from other sources), some families go to church on Christmas when they aren't Christian. It's just "the thing their family does".
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Old 10-06-2009, 04:10 AM
 
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Festivus?

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Old 10-06-2009, 04:26 AM
 
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Old 10-06-2009, 04:37 AM
 
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um, as secular means worldly rather than spiritual i'm not quite sure how celebrating the solstice, uh, the shortest day of the year in the earth's orbit, is not secular?

we do celebrate solstice, we make a yule log, have 12 days before solstice with canldes and small gifts each day. not really a huge deal, but still, we think about the days getting longer and warmer a lot!

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Old 10-06-2009, 04:47 AM
 
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um, as secular means worldly rather than spiritual i'm not quite sure how celebrating the solstice, uh, the shortest day of the year in the earth's orbit, is not secular?
Depends. Agnostica is celebrated generally on the solstice because it is a scientifically interesting date.

Some people choose to celebrate the solstice because of beliefs they hold about the solstice. The rebirth of the sun is a fairly popular non-secular belief about the solstice.

ETA: Did you click the link? Agnostica's actually from a webcomic and I was making a bit of a joke. Although there are instructions for making a paper atomic model for decorations!
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Old 10-06-2009, 08:00 AM
 
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Like Storm Bride, we're atheists and still do Christmas as a cultural thing. It's more about having time to spend with family because we all get a little time off than about anything else. We do presents for the children in the family, but other than that, we just get together and eat. It's fun.
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Old 10-06-2009, 08:33 AM
 
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We're recovering Christians. Our families still celebrate it. We let the kids open Xmas gifts ON Xmas, and empty their stockings from Santa (Santa is a good anology for God later on, and a lot of fun now). Living in Europe, our kids have seen many different representations of Father Winter, and know that nobody's ever REALLY seen him.
But our big family holiday is midwinter/Yule. We do celebrate pre-christian traditions with it, as I consider myself "heathen". But we keep it light, as I don't have a literal belief in gods, and wouldn't impose them on my kids if I did. We light candles and have our feast. We have a potted pine tree that we decorate, and then take care of until the ground starts to thaw. While the Earth is cold, we feed the birds, and talk about the science behind it all. I don't believe science and spirit are at all mutually exclusive!

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Old 10-06-2009, 11:33 AM
 
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Festivus?

FOR THE REST OF US!


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Old 10-06-2009, 11:36 AM
 
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Like Storm Bride, we're atheists and still do Christmas as a cultural thing. It's more about having time to spend with family because we all get a little time off than about anything else. We do presents for the children in the family, but other than that, we just get together and eat. It's fun.
So so we. when Dylan was little we did Solstice, and we still do a little something on that day but now that she is in school it's just easier to do Christmas as it coincides with our time off from work and school and she doesn't feel like the odd kid out when they discuss what they did/got. It seems that there is very little about Christmas that is spiritual anymore unless you go actively looking for it (ie going to church etc.) so we are able to do a lot of traditions like food, the Nutcracker, tree decoration, even Santa without a blatant display of Christianity.

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Old 10-06-2009, 12:12 PM
 
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we do yule.

i think creating your own special traditions that you will share with your children is great, regardless of how you id religiously.

i would not think twice about non-religious people taking my pagan symbols of the time of year (tree, lights, gifts) and working it into a holiday that works for them. after all, the christians took that stuff first- why not the seculars?!

personally, i love the decorations at this dark time of year, the feasting and special foods/sweets, and giving one gift to each person on my list (no over-consumption here!) sharing set-aside time of year to be with family and friends is important!

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Old 10-06-2009, 12:16 PM
 
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We do a big Soup and Solstice party with friends. No gifts. A tiny tabletop tree with handmade sun decorations and silly songs about sunshine and warmth. One year, I had a fire juggler come. So cool.

Try this book and see if it resonates with you....


http://atheism.about.com/od/bookrevi...lsticeTree.htm
I like "soup and solstice" I believe I've seen you post about this before. I plan to steal it. heh. I might even take it as far as eggs and equinox for spring, salad and solstice for summer and eggplant and equinox for fall. IN fact I was just thinking about this on the drive to work today.

My ideal solstice celebration would be getting a tree and decorating it with lights, and snow-based decorations (snowflakes, icicles, lights). And then I think I'd ideally saw up the tree to make the yule log for the next year (perhaps milling holes into it for taper candles). For me solstice is more about embracing the dark (I like those long nights, plus the night rarely gets celebrated except when it's going away.) rather than the return of the sun (the sun doesn't feel very returny to me until the equinox anyways). So I intend to reflect on the good things associated with winter, dark, night - rest, recuperation, renewing, that sort of thing.

But we're a mixed house and right now nothing gets celebrated. Which I don't like at all.

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Old 10-06-2009, 12:19 PM
 
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We call our secular holiday "Christmas" and do the pagan and commercialized stuff. And we get together with extended family for a big meal. Fun times.
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Old 10-06-2009, 12:21 PM
 
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We celebrate the Solstice. Leading up to it, we read stories from around the world and discuss how different people celebrate things differently. We do have a Yule tree and give gifts, but it has nothing to do with Christianity at all. Since we don't have a fireplace, we make an edible Yule Log. We make a "feast."

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Old 10-06-2009, 01:24 PM
 
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I haven't read all the replies, but thought I'd just add mine. We are Christians, but celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday. All the symbolism (trees, globe decorations, Santa Clause, etc) are secular and / or pagan symbols anyway and has nothing to do with Christ's birth, not to mention the fact that Christ wasn't even born on Christmas day. We don't do a tree or Santa Clause, but we do get together with family and just have a big lunch / dinner together while we watch the kids rip into their gifts. We all have fun.
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Old 10-06-2009, 02:31 PM
 
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A pp mentioned lights at this dark time of year. While I'm not really, really far north, I'm far enough that it gets dark here really early by the solstice. I love the tradition of Christmas lights. They add so much cheer and warmth to a cold, dark season. The new LED lights also suck much less energy than the old ones (I wish they'd get rid of the orange ones, though - they're just not...Christmasy to me).

Last year, dh and I saw Trans Siberian Orchestra during the "run up" to Christmas. DH may go this year (I won't, because I'm not comfortable leaving dd2 for that long). I think we may make it an annual tradition after this year, though.

hmm....trying to think of what else we do that's very secular is style. Some of our symbols are still Christian ones (eg. the star on top of the tree), but for us, they're symbolic of...Christmas. They don't really have any other meaning, anymore, yk?

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Old 10-06-2009, 02:39 PM
 
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We do a twelve-day holiday, that stretches from the solstice eve to the secular New Year with a special tradition for each of the 10 days. We're pagan UUs ourselves, but a lot of our family is Christian, so we celebrate Christmas with them, and do Santa and all that on the usual day. Our religious holiday is the solstice, though.

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Old 10-06-2009, 02:44 PM
 
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I love the Soup & Solstice idea. I might have to borrow it. My daughter is not even one yet so we have no traditions. I am an atheist and although my family celebrates christmas I would rather have less materialistic traditions with my daughter.

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Old 10-06-2009, 03:20 PM
 
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My dh is Agnostic and I am Pagan. We celebrate the Solstice by making edible ornaments for the birds and decorate a tree outside. The kids each get one gift. We have a big pot of stew or something warm and soothing and just enjoy each others company. We keep the same fire going in our fire pit in the woods for the entire Winter (I think we've only had it go out once). Winter is short (if we even get 'Winter weather' here at all!) here so we love to make the most of it.

We also do Christmas. And I mean we do Christmas overload! It is not religious for us at all, although I grew up Southern Baptist and it was very religious. I still get goosebumps when I remember my dad reading the story of the birth of Jesus out of the Bible every Christmas Eve. I still love the story, even though it doesn't mean the same thing to me as it did when I was a kid. Now we read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we make a gingerbread village (use to be one house, but we've grown as a family, and so has our village. We make cookies and candies and all kinds of handmade ornaments and jarred jams and salsas to put in gift baskets for our friends and neighbors. We read various stories from various belief systems. We put so many lights on our house that this year I believe we'll have to expand to the barn. We do a huge tree (fake because I'm allergic to real) and I use the angel that was my great-grandmother's on top and call her our Christmas Fairy. We go completely overboard w/gifts for the kids (and in the last few years, each other), but we also use it as an excuse to buy needed clothing items, art supplies for our 'school year', and all kinds of other things. I love the Holiday Season!!!! For us, it really starts on Thanksgiving.

We also donate lots of food to the food bank, and donate to a charity of our choice each year. We also sponsor a needy family each year.

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Old 10-06-2009, 03:45 PM
 
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That sounds lovely, Chicky, can we visit? LOL

Just wanted to pop in and say thanks for all the great ideas...we're atheists too and just do the average tree/gifts/food thing, but as DS gets older I'd love to move towards a more nature-oriented celebration.

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Old 10-06-2009, 03:55 PM
 
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we enjoy Christmas but it seems a little silly since we aren't Christian. I had a pretty secular childhood, we celebrated Christmas but it was totally about family and celebrating, no religious aspect at all.
I don't think it is silly. I am a secular humanist and celebrate Xmas with much gusto every year. It is tradition and family and the tree and the decorations and baking and finding the perfect gift to put a smile on someone's face and music and snow and Santa!! It is my favorite time of year, and I am as atheist as you get.

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We do Christmas. For us, it's a cultural/secular holiday, not a Christian one. I grew up with it, as did dh (his parents are Christian, mine aren't), and would miss it terribly if we stopped celebrating it.
Exactly.
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Old 10-06-2009, 03:57 PM
 
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I love the Soup & Solstice idea. I might have to borrow it. My daughter is not even one yet so we have no traditions. I am an atheist and although my family celebrates christmas I would rather have less materialistic traditions with my daughter.
I'm certainly not trying to talk anybody out of Soup & Solstice, but Christmas doesn't have to be really materialistic. We do exchange gifts, but the things my family really looks forward to are:

baking together (and eating the baking, of course), including our annual gingerbread house.

walking around and seeing the lights.

our big annual outing (the Festival of Lights - 1,000,000+ - at a local garden, or the Christmas train, or going up the mountain to ice skate and pet reindeer or whatever).

the big family meal at my mom's, with my siblings and all the cousins.

This year, we're going to do a Christmas hamper for a local family in need. I'm also thinking we might go out mid-day and hang some pine cone bird feeders in the woods behind the house.

So, yeah - we'll open gifts and have stockings - but it's not a really materialistic day, yk?

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Old 10-06-2009, 04:05 PM
 
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We do Christmas. For us, it's a cultural/secular holiday, not a Christian one. I grew up with it, as did dh (his parents are Christian, mine aren't), and would miss it terribly if we stopped celebrating it. I see it as more of a Winter feast than anything else.


I think this is true of a lot of people. I don't actually know anyone (irl) who celebrates Christmas in a religious way.

For us it's about family and bringing a little warmth and fun into a long cold winter.
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