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"JUGS, BEAVERS and EXPLODING BALLS"
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||CLAIM THE FARCE
Is Christmas Really Just for Christians?
A Littlest Atheist Commentary by Cartoonist Jeff Swenson
I know that some atheists after reading my The Littlest Atheist Christmas Special for 2008 might be upset. There seems to be this idea that Christmas is strictly a Christian holiday and I don't believe that to be true.
Once I did. When I was a Christian growing up looking forward to the holiday season every year, I felt that if you didn't believe in a literal Jesus Christ you had no business celebrating his birth. My hypocrisy was self-evident though in that I found joy in the holiday from much more than the story of Baby Jesus. And I was involved in traditions with pagan roots such as The Christmas Tree and Yule Log.
I still find joy in Christmas long after leaving Christ behind because what I truly enjoy are all of the stories and traditions, and frankly the TV animated specials (I am a geek cartoonist, y'know). I don't even mind the Baby Jesus story--even though it can get quite repetitive and doesn't compare to stories about Santa or a Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle .
This is because I don't take Xmas stories and traditions literally. I don't believe in a literal Jesus just as I don't believe in a literal Santa, and I know Ralphie is a character in movie narrated by Jean Shepherd. The winter season fuels the imagination for me and I return to my childhood when honestly my mind was more on presents than god myths anyways.
The danger I see of atheists who say we should not celebrate Christmas is that like Christians they seem to be taking the holiday as literal. In other words, they give legitimacy to the stories by boycotting them or protesting them in some manner. It's like boycotting The Santa myth. It feels ridiculous.
I'm not saying atheists should feel compelled to celebrate Christmas--of course not. But please don't judge me for indulging myself in a mythological holiday. And if it makes an atheist more comfortable they don't have to refer to the term "Christmas", but for me even the term "Christmas" has lost its original meaning. Mass is, as far as I know, a Catholic tradition. Are Protestants upset at Christ's Mass? Are they rewording "Christmas" to reflect their sect? No. Because no one thinks of Christmas as "Christ's Mass" anymore. It is a fundamental mindset that dissects words to use them in a legalistic manner.
The farce is that "Christmas is a Christian holiday" when that has long been left behind. I don't think it is necessary to exclude yourself from what is now an Americanized Winter Festival. Or a European one if you're outside the states. Christianity is a farce, it is mythology masquerading as truth. Treat it as such.
The early church appropriated all of the Winter Festivals and Christianized them as much as possible because they knew they couldn't ban them or compete with them. I believe it's time we use that same mindset. Make Christmas your own holiday. Claim the farce for yourself. If you choose not celebrate it I have no problem with that either, but don't feel you're a "better atheist" for doing so. We all have our vices, and mine is the childhood nostalgia of Christmas past.