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Thread: Christmas time for non-Christians

  1. #1

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    Question Christmas time for non-Christians

    For the non-Christians.... Do you have Christmas? Or your own version of a Christmas?
    (I don't mean non-practicing Christians, I mean people who don't follow Christianity at all)



    I'm a Buddhist, Shel is non-religious. Jazz hasn't been Christened or Blessed that ties her to any religion. Celebrating Christmas seems like the biggest hypocritical act, and yet it also seems a little impossible.
    Our families celebrate Christmas, despite being non-Christian, and even non-religious too (some might be considered spiritual, but essentially non religious). So they do the tree and the big lunch or dinner, and, of course, the presents.
    Shel also really loves and enjoys Christmas and the decorations, she just ignores the fact that it's Christian (and yes, it's not traditionally Christian, which she points out all the time but STILL she isn't pagan either so ... no reason to go through the ritual if you don't believe it KWIM?). She also says things like how do you not have Christmas, didn't we enjoy it growing up, and how Jazz will feel left out at school or in her peer group without celebrating Christmas etc.

    I also find it really difficult because we have agreed that we want to take a flexible, educative stance on religion, and allow her to choose her own faith. So for me to push Rohatsu/Bodhi Day (which is a Buddhist celebration in early December) seems equally hypocritical. And then a part of me thinks, stopping her from being able to celebrate Christmas is like pushing my own beliefs and faith onto her.

    A part of our Rohatsu celebrations includes decorating our home with coloured lights, and deocrating a tree with lights and beads. Sounds familiar right But I don't want to mash them together, even though that would be the easy way out I guess. It's hard. I don't want her to think I am anti-Christianity, which I don't think I am, but I also want her to see that we don't have to do what every one else does if it isn't what we believe.

    BAH I don't even know what I want... talk about a bunch of ramblings. How do you celebrate? It would be easier if we were both Buddhist and decided that would be Jazzy's faith, but as we want to be as open and flexible and educative as possible, what do we do?
    I don't want to be celebrating Christmas "just because" every one else does though, because it isn't what *I* believe in.

  2. #2

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    We celebrate Xmas (Not Christmas, that's a Christian thing ) - just the "magical" side of things. I get annoyed when Christians say I'm not allowed to because I'm not doing it for the reasons they are. I even intentionally write "Xmas" to differentiate. I'm not celebrating the birth of a fictional character (If I wanted to do that I'd be chucking a party on July 31st for Harry Potter's birthday ) but I am celebrating the things that that time of year has come to signify - togetherness, love, gift-giving... I just happen to do it on the 25th of December because that's when the majority of people do it and it would confuse them if I did it differently. I don't believe in any of that Christian stuff, but I'll participate anyway because of the feelings it creates. Hell, my favourite traditional Xmas song is "Silent Night" - I don't believe it's true, but it's a nice story...

    Grrr, I'm rambling too, I hope I've gotten across what I mean Xmas is my favourite time of year, but not for religious reasons t all.

    ETA: Marydean said it a LOT better than me in less words
    Last edited by TeniBear; July 3rd, 2010 at 04:03 PM.

  3. #3

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    I think it's helpful to understand that it's not only a religious festival but also a cultural one as well. It's a time that in our country we celebrate the values of family, sharing time together, celebrating and relaxing and yes, the hope of peace and goodwill for all. Lots of families celebrate it to pass on the joy they experienced as children on to the children in their own families. In my own family of origin, it's one of very few times in the year when all my father's family gather together (all the generations) and despite the grumbling (by the younger ones LOL) everyone turns up and enjoys themselves. The older members of the family have seen too many friends and family pass away and know that these events matter.

    On a personal level, I celebrate Christmas as part of the wheel of the year...I'm not even fully identified as a 'pagan' but to me it's important to stop and reflect on the time passed and the time to come, to gather my people around me and well, celebrate LIFE in all it's fullness. To me it's about the meaningful parts of the exercise - if I'm writing a card I write something heartfelt, I incorporate a short thanksgiving ritual into our celebrations with guests, I practice charity over & above the usual. I do get quite irritated when the Christians act like it's their festival and theirs alone...even back when I was a devout practicing Catholic, I was always mindful that people had celebrated around this time of year (mid-winter for us with anglo-euro-backgrounds) for centuries before christianity hit the scene.

    I don't think selecting a particular festival to be the one that's special to your little family is about pushing your beliefs at all. What is important is establishing something that is meaningful to the people within that family unit...so to you it could be the celebration of Bodhi Day, but to Shel it may part of the greater season of Christmas (which is a season, culturally, and not a single day), and for Jazz (& bros or sisters ) it will be a special celebration that she looks forwards to with anticipation and enjoys every year. As she grows older and understands more she will come to understand the ways in which it's meaningful, regardless of the particular festival or date that you choose to honour.

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    Default Christmas time for non-Christians



    Harry Potter is not a fiction character!!

    Lol, but really, I'm not christian but we do Christmas. Most people do, you know? The 'real' reason has been very lost in commercialization IMO, we celebrate it as a chance to hang with family and friends and enjoy our holiday and eat lots

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    I'm an aethist and DH is agnositic, but we still celebrate Christmas. We don't look at the religious side of it, we think of it as a time to celebrate being with family. It the one time of year we try to get all our family together and enjoy each others company, plus we love the the lights and decorations, all the good food, and watching the kids excitedly rip open presents from Santa and loved ones. It's a very nostaligic time of year too and bring back lots of happy childhood memories. I love Christmas even though I'm not religious.

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    DH and I are both atheists (TS to bring your DH over get him a copy of "The God Delusion" - I was an agnostic til I read it ) I ADORE Christmas - I am really into it. For me it is all about the food, the family, the tree, the presents, the excitement - I even love Christmas carols (ironically my favourite is "O Come All Ye Faithful" - I simply love the tune). Being an atheist doesn't mean Christmas is off the books in this house

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roryrory View Post
    For me it is all about the food, the family, the tree, the excitement - I even love Christmas carols (ironically my favourite is "O Come All Ye Faithful" - I simply love the tune). Being an atheist doesn't mean Christmas is off the books in this house
    We are the same here, BUT Dh and I have decided that we will have a gift-less Christmas this year with the kids. Not for any religious reason, but for an ethical one where we just don't need more 'stuff' because the more stuff you buy, the more stuff is created which = bad for the environment so we might do a short trip away and do something exciting as a 'gift' ITMS? So because of that we are focusing more on birthdays and making that the bigger event.
    Last edited by Trillian; July 3rd, 2010 at 05:44 PM.

  8. #8

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    Great question Leasha and one that shows what a thoughtful soul you are!

    I am not a Christian either. The older I get the more Pagan I have become - though my Buddhist study has leant me to love Buddism too - so I am not sure what that makes me!

    I remember well having this moral dilemma also.

    I love Christmas & we all know the date is not Christian but Pagan. However, it's about what it means to you and what you have it mean to your childrena dn loved ones. (IMO)

    I love the Cultural Celebration & personally I am totally blissed out about the love that is generated, the generolsity that is shown and the gratitude that is shown at this tine of year.

    For me that's what it's about. It's also about celebrating the birth of a very special prophet of some pretty amazing thoughts, values and virtues. I teach my children about all religions that I know about. Philosophies and thoughts. Mostly though I teach them that most established religions stem from Love. From Love is where we all come from and where we all go back to. That can only be good.

    For me the celebration is cultural, it's spiritual (as it's celebrating what some believe to be the birth time of an amazing man), it's fun, it spreads Love in a World that in my opinion can only thrive with a bit more of the good stuff!

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    Teni one thing Jesus isn't a fiction character he did actually exist whether he is the son of god and was raised from the dead is something else entirely. Many historical sources besides the bible make mention of Jesus.
    Its a tough one Leesh. Christmas is hard to avoid. I love Christmas as a time to celebrate my family and share the joy of giving. It would be hard if Shell wants to and you don't. I don't really have any advice for you.

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    We have a HUGE family xmas every year, and none of us are "religious" as such. I look at it as a time to all get together and make fun memories for the kids It really is quite hard to get all the family together at any other time of the year, as most people have holidays over the xmas period. Jesus or religion just doesn't really get a mention in it all.

  11. #11

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    We don't celebrate Christmas but my family do. They get together and hire a holiday home for the week. We join them for Christmas because it is important to them and it's fun for the children. Even though we don't have the same beliefs as my family I think that family is more important than making a stance. We don't go to church obviously but we partake in the seafood lunch and gift exchange.
    I'm not a Christian but I do enjoy Christmas - how can anyone not like twinkly lights, hanging out with the family and yummy food?

  12. #12

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    Jesus was a real person he did walk on this earth to say that he didnt is rather foolish IMO i do feel for you and totaly get where you are coming from Jazz will choose whatever faith or religion she wishes to when if and when she wants to we all make up our minds what to believe or what not to believe all you can do is try to support her the best you both can which i know you both will thats about all i have to offer.

  13. #13

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    Just reminding that this is a Spirituality thread and as such people hold differing views and beliefs. For some it's not clear that some dieties, prophets etc existed for others it is. Let's remain respectful of others beliefs whilst also allowing others to hold an opinion that is different to our own. It is perfectly reasonable for a member to state their beliefs - even if we don't necessarily share that belief. Just a gentle reminder to keep the discussion that sometimes has the ability to become about others personal beliefs or views - kind and respectful.

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    I'm a Pagan and I celebrate the Summer Solstice 'around' that time - so we do the whole Xmas thing (I do that too Teni!) and Santa is simply Father Time in a disguise - so no problem with Santa (even though he was popularised by the Coca Cola company ).

    We have a small tree which sits on the kitchen table and is also an advent calendar where you put a decoration on the tree each day. As Liam gets older, I might make the decorations myself and have a Summer Solstice theme to them, but he's too young to understand yet.

    I give cards, but I trowel through the boxes until I find one that says 'Season's Greetings' and no mention of 'Christmas'. It's hard work but I can usually find "a" box! I try to get the charity ones too...

    Our extended family gets together for a lunch with crackers and all the usualy Xmas type things which is cool... they don't have a Christian connotation and none of the family we see on the day are practicing Christians so there's no ceremony.

    Now I feel like I'm rambling too It's a hard topic to get a firm grasp on...

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    Oh good thread! I've really enjoyed everyone's responses.

    We're atheists (I agree roryrory- I called myself agnostic till I read 'The God Delusion' ) so we don't really have any religious occasions to celebrate. We celebrate the major Christian events of Christmas and Easter because we are culturally Christian. These are events we have grown up and I have so many great memories of carols by candlelight, waiting for Santa to come, hunting for easter eggs etc that I want to share that magic with my children. I'm happy to include the nativity story- I think it's a beautiful fable and I enjoyed it as a child too. I also belt out the most religious Christmas carols with vigor and passion- I really don't care what the words are, I just enjoy singing them We put out decorations, have a Christmas tree, play carols, spend the day having a big lunch with family and share presents.

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    I would just like to point out that Santa isn't Christian! In other Christian countries, gifts are often given on St Nicholas' day, early in December, rather than on the 25th. Eggs at Easter are also about fertility, not Christianity. We're Christians with no Santa and no Easter Eggs (helps that DS is allergic to dairy in that case!). Yes, we do gifts of obligation as well as gifts of love at Christmas: I'd happily miss out on the gifts of obligation but it would hurt those I love to do no gifts at all. Hurting people because I don't like Santa or expectations of gifts isn't on.

    This year we may not put up a Christmas Tree - we won't be here for the run-up to Christmas if all goes to plan and DH is allowed to take holiday (last year he was working on Christmas Eve). Sure it looks pretty, but tbh the best bit is DS putting on a new star every day after we do his Advent Bible Study. Not the pretty tree.

    I don't need religious greetings in cards: they are so hard to find in the UK! I don't need snow. I don't need presents. A holiday from work and time with my family - I do that at other times of the year, but any excuse is a good one for me! It doesn't have to be about religion. But it's a good idea to think about what messages we convey with the imagery so we don't confuse our children, something I have to do very often!

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    I looooove christams! dh and I have no religious ties to it but personally I love the decorations, the happy spirit of people in the community, the excitement of the little kids, the community celebrations, I love all the things it represents to me like a big family lunch (when I was a kid) hot weather, icecream, watermelon, swimming, HOLIDAYS etc etc it's just a wonderful festive time of year. Than as an adult it was about parties, wine, good food and again just so festive. dh and I are not into christmas so much now in terms of a family event, his dad and partner are not christian and it drives then nuts the 'commercial' aspect so for them it's just another day which is a shame cause I'd still like to have a nice day with them as in lunch and a catch up but if that happened on 'christmas day' they would feel like they are celebrating so we don't even bother asking them. In the past dh and I have had one christmas with his mum's side of the family, which was nice but not really 'that' fun and other we have just spent the day together. We never give anyone presents because that is not what it's all about for us, even for birthdays and anniversaries we would rather spend time together. So I'm pretty sure when our little bub is born christmas will be dh and our child/ren during the day, going to the beach or park for a picnic or something like that and then in the evening maybe seeing grandparents. I'd like my parents to be involved in all this but they live interstate and visit at other times of the year so they aren't really a consideration. When our kids are old enough to ask what christmas is about and where it come from etc we will tell them how it originated and now it's a lovely time in the year to get together as a family.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lady Zaidie View Post
    But it's a good idea to think about what messages we convey with the imagery so we don't confuse our children, something I have to do very often!
    What exactly are you referring to here? For me, I learnt the nativity story and the stories of Santa/reindeer etc. We had Christmas cards with snowy images even though we celebrated in summer time. I sang carols about being faithful, or dreaming of a white Christmas and none of it was relevent...but I remember loving every second and never being confused.

    I have seen studies that indicate that learning about something magical, such as Santa, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy etc in your childhood can really help with mental health as you are older. You've learnt about the possibility of magic and wonder and you've also learnt how to let go of something that you once thought was real, but it's okay to learn that it's not.

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