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‘No God’ Doesn't Mean ‘No Christmas’ For All Non-Believers

“My lack of belief has little impact on my observance of holiday traditions."

Whether celebrating, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza—or maybe “Chrismukkah”— ’tis the season.

Even for many atheists.

Absence of faith in God does not mean cultural holiday celebration is necessarily lost.

“My lack of belief has little impact on my observance of holiday traditions,” says 31-year-old Temecula resident Adrian Flores. “While I do not mark the birth of a religious figurehead or revel in the pagan rites that served as the figurative headwaters for modern-day Christmas, I do treasure the familial sentiments and warm traditions this season brings.”

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center and released in October, more than 13 million, or 6 percent, of Americans describe themselves as atheists or agnostics, and an additional 33 million people, or 14 percent, say they have no particular religious affiliation.

That 20 percent of America is a large slice of the shopping-season pie, and that could be a reason why so many retailers replace “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Chanukah” with the politically correct “Happy Holidays.” Nowadays, references to Christmas seem to have more to do with the bottom line — “Save 50% through Christmas Eve” or “2-Day Shipping: Get It There By Christmas” — than wishing good cheer.

The shift in retail marketing strategies over the last 20 years suggests corporations aren’t counting non-believers out of the biggest sales month of the year, and for good reason.

“Exchanging holiday gifts and merriment is just as important to me … as it surely is to someone doing the same out of religious faith,” Flores confirms.  

Fountain Valley resident Jeffrey Isbell, 59, agrees the holiday season is a special time of year. Raised a Protestant Christian but now an atheist, he still celebrates many of the traditions of Christmas. Afterall, exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees and waiting for Santa Claus to arrive aren't bound in religion.

“It is a whimsical time. (As a child) I thought ‘The First Noel’ was a pretty song, and I think it’s pretty now,” Isbell said. “However, (Christmas) is more of a cultural experience for me, rather than a religious one.”

Isbell says that while holidays like Christmas and Chanukah are based on religious faith, the true meaning is not always as clear on a societal level.

For Flores, the meaning of the holidays is based in what some may consider very Christian ideology: “Togetherness, rather than divisiveness," he said, "is the truest testament to the strength of family and a powerful statement of the meaning of the holiday season."

JustUs December 24, 2012 at 06:31 AM
Thanks for the holiday laughs, TC. I see you picked up another handful and flung it at the wall without any sticking. Grab the wet stuff. See if that works! :) But you get the Patch award for the most lame insults that have no staying power. Btw, is that pagan tree you have in your home artificial or real? If you don't have little plastic angels and cherubs hanging from it what do you decorate it with? Little Obama's and Joe Biden's? What christmas song's do you listen to, if not religious? The 3 Chipmunks, starring Alvin??
Alty48 December 24, 2012 at 07:15 AM
Hey Just-U......You spout nothing more than bumper sticker slogans ......when are you going to come up with some real analysis?....when are you going to used reason and evidence to counter argue your self-invented enemies.....Please for your sake and the sake of everyone on Patch.....Please delete Rush's radio transcripts from your hard drive and start thinking on your own?.............there is a difference between being smart and being dogmatic........
Dan Avery December 24, 2012 at 07:27 AM
JustUs, "I think there are many, many athiests(sic) in high political office who put on a nice show..." You're confusing atheists with hypocrites. They are not the same thing at all.
Dan Avery December 24, 2012 at 07:28 AM
Actually, Shri, it's the only answer to that question that makes any sense at all. If you think about it.
Dan Avery December 24, 2012 at 07:30 AM
TC, There's also a difference between being dogmatic and being a parrot. Justus is the latter. After all it does take some intelligence to be dogmatic, but to simply mimic...none at all...
Dan Avery December 24, 2012 at 07:34 AM
Tom, I really have never seen an atheist try to take God away from anyone. Rich or poor, needy or otherwise. I have, however, seen "God Fearin' Christians" claim that atheists are trying to take away God or whatever. That's called a persecution complex and it would seem to me, objectively, that only those of the Jewish faith come by persecution honestly. But, hey, since it's a Lutheran God I don't believe in does that make me a Lutheran?
JustUs December 24, 2012 at 07:42 AM
You're a real anomaly, TC. Most atheists I've crossed paths with had some intellecutal horsepower. Did someone throw out the word at a hog calling contest and you thought it'd be cool to tell everyone that you were one so as to be thought of as intelligent? Tell us the story of how you became an atheist, TC. (wink; this should be good). ;)
JustUs December 24, 2012 at 08:11 AM
Doug, if you have followed the POTUS for the last 4 years you would know that he deserves our scorn. Perhaps your head has been buried in the sand for the last 4 years. I don't know. But the facts certainly speak for themselves. Obama is an inveterate liar and hypocrite. The examples are many. I couldn't come close to listing them all in one alloted comment.
Mary December 24, 2012 at 04:37 PM
@Just U- Don't try to act as if you are part of Us. Your positions were voted down by a majority and President Obama will have the ability to appoint reasonable Supreme Court Justices should the occasion arise, which will have a more lasting affect on our society than your rhetoric. The question on this poll is a religious one, not a political one. Everyone in the United States enjoys freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion, so please respect every person’s right to celebrate religious holidays or not.
JustUs December 24, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Mary, sorry. I just think it's a little silly for an atheist to celebrate the Lord's birthday in any way, shape, manner or form. Why don't they make up their own day and celebrate it instead of piggybacking on a Christian holiday? Do they have the RIGHT to do it? Of course they do. But it mocks their entire philosophy and makes them look foolish IMO. They are denigrating their core belief system. Oh, and the POTUS is a huge liar and hypocrite who has shown little evidence of being a Christian man in the last 4 years. Look at all the human lives he has taken overseas by promoting war? hah. Oh, I forgot. King Obama is the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, isn't he? And ObamaCare wasn't a tax, was it? hah. Oh, and extending the Patriot Act indefinitely and signing NDAA were acts to provide the US Citizens with more rights and transparency, weren't they? hah. And paying off the Wall Street criminals with taxpayer money and refusing to prosecute even one of the big Wall Street fish was a way to help the little guy on 'Main Street', wasn't it - and to enhance the 'equality under the law' mantra, wasn't it, dear??? hah. Mary, when are you folks going to wake up?
Doug Curlee December 24, 2012 at 05:31 PM
does it occur to any of you that it's none of your business who celebrates christmas. and how they celebrate it?.. you celebrate it the way you want to..others will celebrate ig the way they want to.. and politics has NO place in this argument.. doug
Doug Curlee December 24, 2012 at 05:34 PM
well, thank you, justus.. for confirming what i thought.. there IS no place you people won't go to get in an attack on barack obama.. thought so.. doug
Lady Golfnut December 24, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Anytime someone can slam Obumbles I'm for it! I hope you supporters are ready for the next four years because it's not gonna be pretty!
Alty48 December 24, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Sorry Dan, I was being charitable....as for Just-U....Christianity piggy backed on a Roman Holiday...the Natalis Solis Invictus.... which celebrated the end of nights getting longer and was accompanied with gift giving....If you knew anything about the holy bible you so admire, you would realize Christ was born in the Spring because, according to the Bokk of Luke, shepherds were watching after their flocks during the lambing season which occurs in the Spring....BTW...there is not justice in JustUS...only vile, debased diatribes...
Shripathi Kamath December 24, 2012 at 09:33 PM
"Yes", "No", or "I do not know, and I do not care" would have been the correct answer. I'd have taken "Define god" as a response.
Shripathi Kamath December 24, 2012 at 09:37 PM
But if politics has no place in this non-argument, how will FOX "News" aficionados declare the war on those who wage war on Christmas? They have their lines memorized and everything.
Shripathi Kamath December 24, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Maybe that's the true meaning of Christmas. 11-6 victims finding comfort in slamming. True Christians will confirm, of course.
Dan Avery December 24, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Actually, I think the Buddha was just saying "Well, that's a stupid question that gets us nowhere."
Dan Avery December 24, 2012 at 11:09 PM
TC, 'Tis the season to be charitable...or so they say...carry on then. :)
Dan Avery December 24, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Shri, Don't forget the part about buying $300 sweaters for family members, who we really don't like, while our fellow human beings sleep on subway grates...that's part of the meaning as well.
Shripathi Kamath December 24, 2012 at 11:31 PM
..and a Merry Christmas to you.
Dan Avery December 24, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Lady Golfnut, It's not the guy on the white horse you have to worry about. It's the guy on the pale horse who is gunning for you.
JustUs December 24, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Doug, I know the truth hurts at times. If you don't want to accept the truth about Obama it's your business. Everything I wrote about him in the comment above is 100% accurate and cannot be denied. Sorry if it offended you. Sometimes it's true that the emperor has not clothes, Doug. Some of us will say it out loud and some won't. That's the difference in human behavior that we should all embrace, sir. Merry Christmas.
Doug Curlee December 25, 2012 at 01:37 AM
well, i'll tell you, justus.. your interpretations and mine are widely at variance..but then, i take my information from all kinds of sources..i suspect yours are much more heavily oriented toward what we in the journalism profession refer to as the rightwingnut "press"..starting with fox and moving steadily to the right from there.. given that, it's unlikely we'll everr find common ground.. and as i said, this thread is NOT the place to interject partisan political views.. that said, merry christmas.. doug
Lady Golfnut December 25, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Shri please I don't find COMFORT in slamming Obumbles, he flat out asks for it and deserves it. And frankly we don't practice buying ridiculously overpriced items for Christmas gifts. When our children were young we have wonderful memories of playing out the whole Santa thing. However now they are grown men, with a great deal of character and family ties. Today our Christmas gifts to one another are spending time together, helping others whenever we can, and being thankful for the blessings our God has bestowed upon us. Our motto: it's not worth having if you can't share it'
Shripathi Kamath December 25, 2012 at 04:46 AM
I understand. You slam because of the overpowering spirit of Christmas leaves you with no choice. Merry Christmas. You deserve all the comfort you can get.
Lady Golfnut December 25, 2012 at 05:25 AM
Whatever, and for the record I didn't slam, I just applauded someone who did. Bubbye!
Shripathi Kamath December 25, 2012 at 07:11 AM
The spirit of the all-loving Lord does work in mysterious ways on his birthday. Praise Jesus!
JustUs December 25, 2012 at 04:39 PM
I had a good friend who has passed on. He was one of my favorite people. He hung a sign outside the doorway to his home that read "Maybe God chose me to be an atheist". hah. I really loved that man. I love all people who can take a situation and make light of it. I dislike people who take themselves too seriously and like to bleed so that they can blame the rest of us for it. RIP, my good friend. I believe God has a sense of humor. Something that intelligent and powerful must. And my guess is that he let you into his heavenly home for being so human. With that said, I will be attending Church this Christmas morning. I love to see the show with all the pretty garbs and listen to all wonderful hymns sung by the choir. It's cheap entertainment and I like entertainment as much as the next guy. In fact, one of the primary clergyman was investigated for child molestation. I guess they didn't believe the child since it didn't stick. But he will be there too. I especially like to watch him. It's good for a laugh or two. Merry Christmas, everyone. Let's try to be kind to each other in 2013. And everyone practice enhancing your sense of humor (even if you don't think you have one). It's down there. It might be covered over and rusted out with self-pity, self-loathing or feeling helpless. But you can resurrect it just like Jesus resurrected his existence by walking from that tomb. But you have to want it. Laughter sooths the soul, my friends. God bless. Best wishes.
Shripathi Kamath December 25, 2012 at 06:03 PM
My condolences on your friend passing away, pretty hard each time that happens, and irreplaceable. Perhaps you'll use this season to celebrate his life. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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