Yeah, I celebrate Christmas. And yes, I don’t believe in the healing power of Jesus, or any religion, really.
I’ve tried hiding it a variety of different ways — retreating to Yule or Decemberween. But, luckily for me the processes of commercialism has secularized Christmas beyond recognition. This is bad news for Christians, but good news for me — I get a winter holiday to celebrate. To be fair, the Christians did the same thing to Christmas’s pre-Christian background, trying to Christianize it beyond recognition.
I’d also like to thank Ulysses S. Grant for making Christmas a federal holiday, thus making separation of church and state technically apply, thus making the holiday Officially SecularTM, thus making it totally cool for me to celebrate it. So all you haters can stop hating on me and start hating on Grant.
That being said, I don’t celebrate Christmas willy nilly. Having transcendent experiences is important to me, and I view Christmas as an important connection to the Winter Solstice. December 21, today, is the mile marker that indicates the start of winter, which was a large concern once upon a time. Early humanity had to have the foresight to plan for winter or they would perish, and overcoming winter was a huge milestone.
Now, through the Triumphs of ScienceTM, winter is no longer a hardship for anyone, and we can celebrate by enjoying the excesses of materialism that result from science being taken too far. We can also celebrate in our moderate comfort with the more reliable sources of happiness — friends, family, and a spirit of joy and giving (ironically, a finding demonstrated through science again).
Why is the sun gone and when will it return? Many mythologies were created to give answers, and they are wonderful to behold, read, and puzzle. But ultimately, this question was answered through science — through astronomy and meteorology, Stonehenges and spectrometers, construction and diligence.
Thanks to thousands of years of work of early scientists, entrepreneurs, and other workers, we no longer face “plan or perish” winters of the kind that necessitated mythologies. However, that doesn’t mean that all the mystery and transcendence of the solstice is gone. I still take reverence at this dominion over the elements, and vow to continue it on to further generations and to areas that do not live with the same standard of living.
I also vow not to end up dominated by it, taking my comforts, joy, friends, and family for granted. Things are not always Greater Through ScienceTM, and we have to be on our guard to save ourselves from science gone too far. Science is blind to morality, can be used for good and evil, and will not always save us from ourselves.
In a different way, we must plan or perish.
In the end, Christmas is a true existentialist holiday — the meaning of Christmas is entirely what you make of it, and you can celebrate your Christmas pretty much however you want. Besides, reality is probably absurd or something anyway, or whatever it is those existentialists usually say.
So I’m going to take a quick bit of blog time off to celebrate Christmas my way, and I’ll be back to blogging on December 26.
I now blog at EverydayUtilitarian.com. I hope you'll join me at my new blog! This page has been left as an archive.