Monday, 29 October 2012

Why I celebrate Christmas

I often see on twitter Christians getting in a huff about atheists celebrating Christmas. They seem to be quite upset about people who don't see Jesus as the son of the bible God, Yahweh, joining them in an event that, they believe, is the celebration of his birth. 

Followers of my blog and my twitter account will know that I grew up in a Christian family and was indeed a Christian myself for many years. Christmas was a huge event. When I was quite young we'd head to my grandparent's house after we'd done our thing at home. We'd usually head back there on Boxing Day to help take care of all the food that had been left over from the day before. 

When my grandmother died my grandfather moved away to a place down near the beach. We'd take a drive down there, stay over night, and come back home late Boxing Day. It was a huge event because it's a massive family. My grandfather, his 10 kids, their partners and children. Then some of the grandchildren (my generation) got our own partners. We're easily talking 40+ people. It was a wonderful time. After my grandfather died the 10 'kids' as we still think of them took it upon themselves to take turns in hosting, though it was now on only boxing day. It's still a big event. Some of my dad's brothers and sisters are now grandparents themselves. Many of my cousins have partners and children of their own. Not everyone can get there each year but it's still a large group of people to have all together in the one place, especially considering we're all essentially the same family. 

Of course that's not the only Christmas thing I do, just the biggest. There's also work functions, gatherings with friends, getting together with my mum's side of the family and my partner's family. I will attend 8 to 10 Christmas functions or gatherings a year. 

What's interesting is that Jesus Christ is never mentioned. Not once. Not even by the Catholics. Putting aside for the moment that the origins of Christmas can be traced to pre-Christ days, and that if Jesus did exist, he probably wasn't born on December 25th, Christmas has long been removed from the celebration of Christ's birth and has since become a celebration in its own right. A celebration for the sake of celebrating. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there's no one left that celebrates Christmas as the birth of Christ, I'm saying that in my experience it's not the focus of people I know. 

When we talk about Christmas, it's never about the birth of Jesus, it's about shopping for presents (for family, friends, workmates, and things like The Wishing Tree), it's about getting together and 'catching up', it's about parties, and functions, and drinking and eating, and simply wanting to have fun with those whose company we enjoy. 

Christmas was a massive part of my life growing up, and it's still a huge part of my life now. That's why I celebrate it, because it means so much to me. It's not because of someone that biblical expert Francesca Stavrakopoulou describes at best as 'probably' existed (fellow biblical expert Richard Carrier now argues that Jesus in fact never existed). I don't celebrate Christmas because of the Winter Solstice (I'm in the southern hemisphere, it's not the winter solstice for us anyway). I celebrate Christmas because it's FUN. It brings me joy and brings joy to my family, friends, and colleagues. 

I celebrate Christmas for the sake of it. Yes, the name is a hangover from Christian influence (I've light-heartedly taken to calling it Giftmas), and yes, there is still a great deal of Christians that think they're celebrating the birth of their Savior. Anyone that wants to celebrate it that way can continue to do so. Nothing about how I celebrate Christmas is going to stop any Christian celebrating it they way they want to. 

I love this time of year and getting together with so many people and I assume, and hope, that they like getting together with me too. It's a wonderful time where we can look back at the year we've just had and relive the highlights, and commiserate the low lights. We can look forward and share with our family and friends our hopes, dreams, and expectations for the year to come and we can do it over good food and good drinks. It's a time of year where we can get together with all the people we know and love just because we want to, because we think it's a good idea and we like it. It doesn't require the alleged birth of an alleged messiah.

The thing is, not only do Christians not own late December celebrations, they didn't even invent them. 

No comments:

Post a Comment