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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:59 am 
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I've seen some amusing conversations on twitter lately involving christians demanding atheists not take part in any sort of xmas celebration (#thingsthegodlysay for a laugh). It made me wonder how we felt about whether, and how, atheists or non-Christian believers should mark xmas.

It's a thorny issue so I won't be offended if nobody shares their views. If anyone does there's the potential for 'disagreement'. I'd say it's important to be able to say what you think, just do it with respect for other forumers... if not their beliefs!

(In the interests of full disclosure I'm obviously an atheist, but with a particularly interest in faith, and I'll be celebrating xmas in the usual way: family, drink and Scalextric.)

Do Christians believe this is their holiday and it shouldn't be hijacked?
Do any atheists refuse to celebrate xmas?
Do non-Christian believers celebrate xmas? etc.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:08 pm 
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It's a funny one this one. We had a non-Christian plumber coming over at the house for some work on Christmas day (boiler gave up, would you believe it) some years back. He still charged double tariff (more than £700 for 4 hours of work, the landlady was less than happy to say the least) as it was Christmas, even though he didn't celebrate Christmas, didn't believe in Christmas, but the money was too good I guess!

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:10 pm 
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I'm an atheist, and I celebrate Christmas... well, I say I celebrate Christmas, I buy presents for a couple of people, enjoy getting merry, and enjoy the pleasantry of it. I however don't use it to celebrate the birth of el Christo, or any of that side of things, as I simply don't beleive in it.

Religious folk are right to consider it their holiday, as it is... but if the minority of them say "atheists can't celebrate christmas" then frankly I'd say "f**k off." and point out that I could put up a tree and decorations, give out presents and get merry at any time of year, it wouldn't necessarily by Christmas or a Christian celebration I was partaking in.

I'm just joining in the fun by being festive, not indulging in Christian rejoicing. I use it as a way to celebrate togetherness, with those of any faith. As such, merry Christmas/Festive-Period to you all, Christian, Atheist, and any other denomination present.

@ ShumieRules - that's quite amusing, not believing in Christmas but charging Christmas rates haha!

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:16 pm 
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interesting one...

being a Christian by assuming (you know, grew up in the country where almost everyone became a Christian at some point and majority of populations says they are and assume that other too) I ham actually quite an atheistic person. And especially I am non-church (as an organisation) person.

But - it's just one dude's birthday and a good reason to gather together to have a day off and a good meal and some good and meaningless conversations. We don't bring any religious aspects into it in our family.

By the way - Christians can't agree among themselves which day to use :) how can they demand something from others :D
At the moment the dude has two official birthdays and one non-official but possibly correct from the astronomical point of view. And both official dates were based on pagan celebrations. So Christians are hijackers too :) Rich from them preaching to others... Hold on, that's exactly what religion does along with hijacking ;)

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:29 pm 
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Put simply, Christmas as we know it is not a Christian festival.

I think it would celebrated by most people in the UK at least, I know of Jewish, Muslim and Sikh families who are happy to put up decorations, open chocolate advent calenders, have loads of time off work, extended family dinners, listen to Christmas pop songs, go to Christmas parties etc basically everything that we associate with Christmas that isn't Christian.

It's one of those odd things that even though it used to be a Christian festival it is now much more a holiday that we do 'stuff' on!

My parents are very religious and my father in law is an Christian Orthodox deacon, and they will still celebrate Christmas religiously, having a number of services during advent and a midnight service on Christmas eve and similar sorts of things. But in just the last 50-100 years, the way (again, in the UK at least) we celebrate Christmas is such that there is no need for it to be religious, if fact, most things to do with Christmas now are not religious at all. But there shouldn't be any Christian who is angry that their festival has been hijacked, if anything, it is an easy form of 'spreading the word' and as I've already said, they are free to celebrate in their own way without others stopping them.

As for charging double rates from a plumber over Christmas, It's a public holiday, so why not?

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:31 pm 
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I'm an atheist but do the food / tree / presents / decorations bit. Mainly for the sake of the kids, but also because it's, well, a nice tradition..


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:43 pm 
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Just a couple of points to reply to other posters:

jammin78 wrote:
point out that I could put up a tree and decorations, give out presents and get merry at any time of year
only 1 of those 3 things has anything to do with a Christian Christmas anyway! Which is my point about the things we do are not really Christian anyway!
Denorth wrote:
By the way - Christians can't agree among themselves which day to use how can they demand something from others
At the moment the dude has two official birthdays and one non-official but possibly correct from the astronomical point of view. And both official dates were based on pagan celebrations. So Christians are hijackers too Rich from them preaching to others... Hold on, that's exactly what religion does along with hijacking
First off I have no problem with any religion choosing any date to have it's festivals. I believe Christianity in the west first chose 25th December as a way of converting Pagans by using Winter Solstice as the same date as Christmas. The point from a religious aspect would be, it doesn't matter what date it is celebrated on, as long as it is celebrated.
The best bit about Christians not agreeing when it should be though, is that I get 2 dinner's! 1 on 25th Dec with my family and 1 on 7th Jan with my wife's (Russian Orthodox) :D

Although having said that I have worked the last 16 Christmas's in a row now so it's always shovelled down and not enjoyed properly.

A final point about should Christians be upset their festival has been hijacked would be - even though Christmas seems to be the biggest Christian festival, to them Easter is much more important and Christians celebrate Easter more than Christmas. It's just Christmas is much easier for people to sell commercially.

EDIT: just thought as well, I don't know if Balibari named the thread the way did purposefully using Atheist, but shouldn't it be 'non-Christian/Christian Christmas' as there are a lot people who aren't Christians, but aren't Atheists either.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:00 pm 
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I'm Christian and I couldn't care less whether or why people celebrate it as long as nobody stops me from celebrating. Also I would never force anyone to celebrate it. Live and let live.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:41 pm 
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minchy wrote:
EDIT: just thought as well, I don't know if Balibari named the thread the way did purposefully using Atheist, but shouldn't it be 'non-Christian/Christian Christmas' as there are a lot people who aren't Christians, but aren't Atheists either.

Very true. Although I differentiated between atheist, Christian and non-Christians of faith in the body of the text, I didn't think to in the heading. But that makes it kind of inkeeping with my motivation for starting the thread. The hardcore types on Twtter I refer to don't use language like, 'you shouldn't celebrate Christmas when you're not a Christian', it's always 'you shouldn't celebrate Christmas when you don't believe in god'.

Having said that it's probably just a reflection of the fact it's atheist commentators I tend to follow (I never actually tweet so this is all 3rd person experience), I'm sure there are angry Christians having a pop at Muslims, Jews etc. but I'm not plugged into that world so don't see it.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:46 pm 
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One thing I'm not surprised about, based on the handful of opinions so far, is that 'normal' Christians don't have a problem with non-Christians celebrating xmas for their own reasons. If I gave the impression I expected anything else, I didn't mean to.

I'm a little (pleasantly) surprised to see awareness and acceptance of the fact that Dec 25th was a day of celebration prior to Christianity. That's one subject that almost brought a Catholic friend of mine to violence when we 'discussed' it last year!

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:03 pm 
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Think of it as the pagan midwinter festival and there is no problem with atheists celebrating it.

I would say that on balance the modern very consumerist celebration is a lot closer to the pagan festival than the Christian festival.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:17 pm 
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I think dizlexik's comment should pretty much sum up what most sensible Christians should think about it. However, I think there are a few denominations of Christianity, like anything else, that will always have extreme views and aggressively try to enforce them not listening to reason when they are given a compelling argument. Lets be fair, lashing out is a natural human instinct to protect oneself. As for my knowledge of 25th December, I studied Christianity and Judaism at school for R.E. and we were taught very objectively even with the school being a Christian school about the history of festivals and practices etc and that questioning how a religious festival is practised is not questioning the persons or religions beliefs.

And as Muttley has said, things like the Christmas tree are taken directly from Pagan practices and originally had nothing to do with Christianity at all.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:33 pm 
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As far as I'm concerned it's an excuse to give gifts, make people happy and get p*ssed at 10am in the morning. I like the traditions, the food, (some of) the music. I like going up to Lincoln and having a few drinks with old school friends I don't see the rest of the year but sadly I can't make it up there this year.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:46 pm 
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Banana Man wrote:
As far as I'm concerned it's an excuse to give gifts, make people happy and get p*ssed at 10am in the morning. I like the traditions, the food, (some of) the music. I like going up to Lincoln and having a few drinks with old school friends I don't see the rest of the year but sadly I can't make it up there this year.


Wow, there's some weirdos on here :D


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:15 pm 
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I'm an Atheist, I wouldn't necessarily say I "celebrate" Christmas, but I have a laugh, get drunk with the family and friends, give presents and all that. But as far as I'm concerned it's just an excuse to do those things, nothing more, nothing less.

Let's face it, the "Christian Christmas" we all (well, all us in the west) grew up with is nothing of the sort anyway. Just like Easter. They're both pre-existing festivals that the Christians high-jacked to limit Pagan's practicing their traditions, although they bizarrely chose to retain virtually all the Pagan trappings and symbolism.

On an almost side note, at Christmas a couple of years ago one of my cousins got married to a Japanese lady, and while out in Japan he visited a huge shopping center, now, the Japanese are starting to take on some western customs, so they had a Christmas display, like our's do here. However, just as if our shopping centers attempted a Shinto display, they got it slightly wrong. They made a giant Santa Claus, a giant, crucified Santa Claus! I've seen the photos. Absolutely brilliant! They so nearly got it right, but also couldn't have gotten in much more wrong!

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:33 pm 
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toilet wrote:
They made a giant Santa Claus, a giant, crucified Santa Claus!

That's fantastic, too funny.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:44 pm 
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Just because Atheists don't believe that Jesus was the son of God (or in some cases even that he existed, although most people believe there was a guy called Jesus who followed a life similar to that in the various contradicting accounts of the New Testament) doesn't mean they can't celebrate Christmas.

For a start, to most people (certainly in the UK, but even in highly religious countries like the US) Christmas has little to do with God and Christ and is more to do with the event - the giving of presents and meeting up with friends and family. The fact that Santa Claus exists as the character he does (ie a magical man who delivers presents via flying reindeer rather than the historical figure he is based upon) shows that the religious aspect is largely unimportant to most people.

Christmas has become a fundamental part of the Western (and consequently global) economy. In the US it is taken to the extreme where the post Thanksgiving period sales are a catalyst that the whole annual economy is dependent upon. If non Christians were to stop observing Christmas this would actually potentially harm the economy - 45% of the UK identified as non religious in the last census.

However, Christianity is not just a religion, it is also a 'philosophy' in that some people believe in the moral foundation in it but don't believe in the religious, supernatural parts of it. To those people Christ can be seen as a historical figure like Martin Luther King and as a result having a day that you celebrate in his honour is just as legimate as it is for those who are not Christians as it is for those who are.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:59 pm 
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How much of Christmas is actually religious these days? Toilet has it basically nailed. All the old festivals were "Hi Jacked" to make Christianity more palatable for the masses.

Today It's commercial peaky something that has been hyped up for the shops to make a good chunk of money. Santa as we know it now is a product of Coke. Santa as a person is folk lore (Dutch or Scandinavian I think. The tree has nothing to do with Christianity . I very much doubt a Turkey with all the trimmings was on the menu at Bethlehem. I'm having steak this year :D

As for the plumber. Well it's a public holiday and any public holiday tends to be extra.

The odd thing is, as far as I can tell everyone likes it when it's over :/

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:29 pm 
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Alienturnedhuman wrote:
The fact that Santa Claus exists as the character he does (ie a magical man who delivers presents via flying reindeer rather than the historical figure he is based upon) shows that the religious aspect is largely unimportant to most people.

Like many traditions we associate with xmas there's a strange circular process involved in this myth. Norse mythological Gods pre-date Judaism/belief in Yahweh/the Abrahamic faiths, and one of their legends has it that Odin (or sometimes Thor) dished out presents, in secret and at night, from his flying 8 legged horse. It's generally accepted this is the root of the Santa myth, so what started as a religious myth became a secularist legend and is now seen by a minority of Christians as encroaching on, or cheapening, their celebration. It's a complicated old world!

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:39 pm 
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I am sure if God has a problem with the way Christmas is "celebrated" He's able to sort it out. Likely he doesn't need a lot of zealots to do this for him (unless of course He spoke to them "listen up guys, if you see a buddhist with mistletoe beat the crap out of the little #*$@")

Oh and by the way my freezer is mostly empty so if Rudolph comes within range - reindeer steaks all round!


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:59 pm 
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I thought most old/dead religions had some form of gift giving? Please correct me if I'm wrong as well, but I also thought the fat old man with a big white beard and red coat was originally cocoa-cola ad campaign and St Nicholas was actually a Turkish wood craftsman originally. And somewhere down the line, they all got thrown together.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:36 pm 
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The Christian aspect of Christmas is almost non-existent these days. I mean how many people actually go to church on Christmas day like they are supposed to?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:45 pm 
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j man wrote:
The Christian aspect of Christmas is almost non-existent these days. I mean how many people actually go to church on Christmas day like they are supposed to?

Christians!

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:03 pm 
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I "celebrate Christmas" by exchanging gifts, eating too much food, and watching Home Alone. I neither practice nor believe in any religion, on any day of the calendar.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:09 pm 
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Balibari wrote:
Alienturnedhuman wrote:
The fact that Santa Claus exists as the character he does (ie a magical man who delivers presents via flying reindeer rather than the historical figure he is based upon) shows that the religious aspect is largely unimportant to most people.

Like many traditions we associate with xmas there's a strange circular process involved in this myth. Norse mythological Gods pre-date Judaism/belief in Yahweh/the Abrahamic faiths, and one of their legends has it that Odin (or sometimes Thor) dished out presents, in secret and at night, from his flying 8 legged horse. It's generally accepted this is the root of the Santa myth, so what started as a religious myth became a secularist legend and is now seen by a minority of Christians as encroaching on, or cheapening, their celebration. It's a complicated old world!

My point is that Santa Claus as depicted in popular culture has nothing to do with Christianty so if non Christians can't celebrate Christmas the Christians can't celebrate Santa Claus. It's a mix of many many different cultures but even taking the Christian aspect in isolation - the celebration of Christ's birth - you don't have to be a Christian to do that. Christ was a real person who made a huge impact on the world today. You don't have to believe in magic or sky fairies to celebrate that should you be inclined.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:11 pm 
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"Hey God we're going to celebrate the birth of your son on earth by adopting a ton of pagan practices. While we're at it do you mind if we borrow all their other stuff and call it christianity?"

As someone who works in finance I hate what families do to themselves in order to buy presents they can't afford. As someone who believes in the possibility of a God I'm pretty sure he'd be tiddled off having christianity melded with the roman/babylonian faith. Even if he isn't real, then the simple message of christianity gets lost amidst all the poo dressed up as religion. As someone married to a woman who celebrates it, I go along with the basics which makes me a hypocrite I suppose.

When in NY one xmas I was struck by how they'd managed to simply call in the holiday season and keep religion out of it almost everywhere. I always though that would happen in Europe first tbh, but fair play to them.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 7:34 am 
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It's as good a reason as any to get together, exchange gifts, eat too much and watch Dr Who.

Can't it just be a day for everyone to have some fun?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:02 am 
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Alienturnedhuman wrote:
Balibari wrote:
Alienturnedhuman wrote:
The fact that Santa Claus exists as the character he does (ie a magical man who delivers presents via flying reindeer rather than the historical figure he is based upon) shows that the religious aspect is largely unimportant to most people.

Like many traditions we associate with xmas there's a strange circular process involved in this myth. Norse mythological Gods pre-date Judaism/belief in Yahweh/the Abrahamic faiths, and one of their legends has it that Odin (or sometimes Thor) dished out presents, in secret and at night, from his flying 8 legged horse. It's generally accepted this is the root of the Santa myth, so what started as a religious myth became a secularist legend and is now seen by a minority of Christians as encroaching on, or cheapening, their celebration. It's a complicated old world!

My point is that Santa Claus as depicted in popular culture has nothing to do with Christianty so if non Christians can't celebrate Christmas the Christians can't celebrate Santa Claus. It's a mix of many many different cultures but even taking the Christian aspect in isolation - the celebration of Christ's birth - you don't have to be a Christian to do that. Christ was a real person who made a huge impact on the world today. You don't have to believe in magic or sky fairies to celebrate that should you be inclined.

Absolutely.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:22 am 
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minchy wrote:
j man wrote:
The Christian aspect of Christmas is almost non-existent these days. I mean how many people actually go to church on Christmas day like they are supposed to?

Christians!

:lol: :thumbup:

Still have to agree with jman's presumed point but love the answer.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 12:07 pm 
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Balibari wrote:
minchy wrote:
j man wrote:
The Christian aspect of Christmas is almost non-existent these days. I mean how many people actually go to church on Christmas day like they are supposed to?

Christians!

:lol: :thumbup:

Still have to agree with jman's presumed point but love the answer.

Yeah, I get what he was trying to say. People used to go to church for marriages, funerals and Christmas. But in the UK is no longer the social pressure to attend church on Christmas as their used to be. It's down to the secularization of the country, which even in my lifetime, has changed how we view ourselves and our actions as individuals and a society.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:26 pm 
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i did notice this year that in our town they've put up "Frohe Festtage" signs ("Happy Holidays", more or less) rather than the old "Frohe Weihnachten" ("Happy Xmas") ones.. I guess in the UK that's par for the course these days?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 2:47 pm 
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domdonald wrote:
i did notice this year that in our town they've put up "Frohe Festtage" signs ("Happy Holidays", more or less) rather than the old "Frohe Weihnachten" ("Happy Xmas") ones.. I guess in the UK that's par for the course these days?

Not really, non religious people and atheists doesn't really have a problem with celebrating Christmas - of course there are a few vocal opponents but the UK is largely secular now - even most people who declare themselves Christian are agnostic.

It's more an American thing, the "Happy Holidays" - but that's because in the US the "Holidays" specifically refers to Christmas. In the UK we use the word holiday interchangeably with vacation so saying "Happy Holidays" at Christmas wouldn't make much sense.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 3:58 pm 
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Alienturnedhuman wrote:
domdonald wrote:
i did notice this year that in our town they've put up "Frohe Festtage" signs ("Happy Holidays", more or less) rather than the old "Frohe Weihnachten" ("Happy Xmas") ones.. I guess in the UK that's par for the course these days?

Not really, non religious people and atheists doesn't really have a problem with celebrating Christmas - of course there are a few vocal opponents but the UK is largely secular now - even most people who declare themselves Christian are agnostic.

It's more an American thing, the "Happy Holidays" - but that's because in the US the "Holidays" specifically refers to Christmas. In the UK we use the word holiday interchangeably with vacation so saying "Happy Holidays" at Christmas wouldn't make much sense.

Yeah, I don't think the issue is important to many in the UK. I couldn't care less what it's called, even as a fairly hardcore atheist I have no problem with nativity plays and signs saying 'Christmas' rather than 'non-denominational festive period'... or whatever. The reasons are unimportant, it's part of our history and it means a lot to many people.

But in the states it's obviously a different matter. You have a very large and vocal ultra-right wing fundamentalist Christian lobby. Combine that with a massively ethnically diverse poulation and a legal system that seems intent on making sure nobody can be offended... and crazies shouting about atheists stealing Christmas seems inevitable. I've seen tweets from the US stating the Newtown massacre was god punishing us for secularising Christmas (and/or not allowing prayer in school).

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 7:37 pm 
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domdonald wrote:
I'm an atheist but do the food / tree / presents / decorations bit. Mainly for the sake of the kids, but also because it's, well, a nice tradition..



Same here. It's fun to take part in Christmas celebrations so I take part. If I upset a few Christians here and there, good. :twisted:


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 7:39 pm 
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Meh, much like the olympics I blame it on coca cola.

I am not joking but was in a shopping centre the other day and I heard a kid point at santa and ask her mum 'is Santa the same as God?', and she replied 'no, but I think he might be something to do with Jesus or something'. 8O


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Biffa wrote:
Meh, much like the olympics I blame it on coca cola.

I am not joking but was in a shopping centre the other day and I heard a kid point at santa and ask her mum 'is Santa the same as God?', and she replied 'no, but I think he might be something to do with Jesus or something'. 8O



For me its not Christmas until the coca cola lorry advert with Santa on it comes on the tele! (UK viewers)

I'm a Hindu, my family does the whole presents, turkey (with an indian twist :) ) , visiting family having fun, a few drinks!

Pretty much all things associated with the holiday season except prayers and mass (Christian aspect)


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 7:57 pm 
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Location: Los Angeles, California
vikz22 wrote:
Biffa wrote:
Meh, much like the olympics I blame it on coca cola.

I am not joking but was in a shopping centre the other day and I heard a kid point at santa and ask her mum 'is Santa the same as God?', and she replied 'no, but I think he might be something to do with Jesus or something'. 8O



For me its not Christmas until the coca cola lorry advert with Santa on it comes on the tele! (UK viewers)




Or the cola-drinking polar bears. :nod:


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:05 pm 
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SnakeSVT2003 wrote:
vikz22 wrote:
Biffa wrote:
Meh, much like the olympics I blame it on coca cola.

I am not joking but was in a shopping centre the other day and I heard a kid point at santa and ask her mum 'is Santa the same as God?', and she replied 'no, but I think he might be something to do with Jesus or something'. 8O



For me its not Christmas until the coca cola lorry advert with Santa on it comes on the tele! (UK viewers)




Or the cola-drinking polar bears. :nod:



Have you ever peed in the snow after drinking coca cola? Armageddon for a polar bear! You'd be as well taking a sledge hammer to your house! :lol:


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