Social Question

josie's avatar

Why do so many people celebrate Christmas?

Asked by josie (30934points) December 12th, 2010

There is reasonable debate about the man called Jesus. Certainly his relationship to God is arguable in the post enlightenment. And even his historical presence is not a provable fact by any modern evidentiary standard. But one thing is certain. A lot of people celebrate Christmas. Including me, perhaps the archetypical cynical and skeptical atheist. What do you make of that?

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58 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

People like traditions and ritual – like death, marriage and births, it provides excuses to get together and to shop into oblivion. Christmas isn’t about Christ.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I like the music, the lights and all the folderol. Neither of us is Christian, but it’s a fun way to celebrate the Solstice and keep some sanity when the days are dark and short and dreary.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I agree with @Simone_De_Beauvoir. People do like traditions and ritual.
There is no “Christ” in my “Christmas.” I enjoy the Hallmark variety of the holiday (this is why I playfully refer to it as Giftmas.) The lights, the trees, the decorations, the gift giving. I love the traditions of being with my family, listening to music, eating together, the overall feel-good aspect of it all.

ucme's avatar

Happy birthday Nazarene! There, that should keep “the holy one” happy. Now where was I? Oh yes…......It’s Christmas!!! Whoo Hoo! :¬)

world_hello's avatar

I like how the smell of the tree covers the stench of booze and used condoms. And really. You have been here a long time.. Use the damn details section.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@world_hello And you can use your real name.

bunnygrl's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir you’re right, not anymore. Not for a long time actually. I remember my Grandmother saying to me once a lot of years ago, that nobody stops anymore to think about their fellow man, and “how many folk even take the time to go to midnight mass anymore?”. It seems to me to have been turned into a glorified bank holiday now.

ninjacolin's avatar

Humans will do anything fun.

deliasdancemom's avatar

I like presents…and food….I would celebrate my bowel movements if I got gifts and turkey for em….

koanhead's avatar

It’s been traditional in the majority of cultures throughout recorded history to have a midwinter festival. Winter is usually a gloomy time of gray days and long nights. Nothing grows and there is little for a farmer or gatherer to do, so winter was a time when you hunkered down at home and hoped that the food and fuel you had gathered and put up in the autumn was enough to keep you alive until spring.

Christmas, on December 25th, is only a few days away from the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the approximate “middle” of winter. If you get past the winter solstice and you’ve got more than half of your supplies left then you are more likely to survive until spring. That can make folks want to celebrate.

ninjacolin's avatar

Jesus “won” in a lot of other ways too. His philosophies dominate the world from the poor to the rich. The most powerful/notorious country in the world is based on christian values. Jesus is a very successful meme.

bunnygrl's avatar

@koanhead GA and also very interesting.
hugs xx

flutherother's avatar

@ninjacolin A country based upon Christian values is yet to be seen, certainly not among those that think they are Christian.

AmWiser's avatar

It’s habitual and people just don’t know any better.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Don’t know any better? I’m not sure that I understand what that means.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I celebrate it because it’s pretty and I like buying people stuff when I can.

DominicX's avatar

Because it’s fun?

Honestly, I feel bad for people who celebrate it out of obligation to buy presents for people and please people. I celebrate it because I greatly enjoy everything about it and I wouldn’t if I didn’t (and yes, that includes the religious aspect of it. I like both the secular and the religious aspect of it).

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@DominicX No one said anything about obligation and a need to please people. Buying people presents is fun.

DominicX's avatar


Oh, I know they didn’t. I’ve just come across people before who said they disliked Christmas partly because they didn’t like that they felt obligated to buy gifts for people.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@DominicX Ah, gotcha. In that case, I think it’s pretty sad, too.

ninjacolin's avatar

@flutherother said “A country based upon Christian values is yet to be seen, certainly not among those that think they are Christian.”

It’s not really something we can deny. Christianity dominates arts and culture in the west. Which in turn influence politics and everyone’s lives the world over. We are living in and observing the full impact of Jesus’ influence in the world. This is what it has been able to accomplish. No more, no less.

flutherother's avatar

@ninjacolin Well if Christianity is influencing politics it isn’t influencing it enough is all I can say.

meiosis's avatar

It seems that the Christians are losing their battle to take the Yule out of Yuletide

Summum's avatar

First thing is Dec 25 was not Christ’s birthday but that is one of the reasons for Christmas. It is sad how we have allowed commercialism to overtake the holiday. Look at Valentine’s Day and how bad that has become. We are made to feel guilty if we don’t get our SO something and each year’s seems we have to outdo the last year.

deliasdancemom's avatar

Mithras is the reason for the season!

JilltheTooth's avatar

I thought Eggnog was the reason for the season…

deni's avatar

I like the trees and decorations and general joy that fills the air around Christmas. I’m not religious and neither is my family. But it’s a reason for us to get together….and it’s time off work….and since we all live all over the country, that really helps. And I love photos with Santa, especially in my 20s.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@deni : I’ll bet Santa likes those pix, too!

augustlan's avatar

I know several Jewish families that celebrate Christmas in addition to Hanukkah. It’s just a lovely holiday for them, not religious at all. It is a lovely holiday, isn’t it? Just starting to get my Christmas spirit back. :)

mattbrowne's avatar

Because the dark nights are so long in the northern hemisphere. Seriously. The date based on pagan traditions was chosen wisely. No one knows exactly when Jesus was born. Might have been July.

Nullo's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Of course Christmas is about Christ. Just that a lot of people celebrate a sort of counterfeit holiday characterized by much buying and eating, that happens to take place on Dec. 25.

suzanna28's avatar

Because Christianity is the majority religion of the world.

Christmas is originally intended to be a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ who founded Christianity thousands of years ago.

Bellatrix's avatar

I am an atheist but I do love Christmas. I love the excitement of it all. The lights, the food, my family getting together and sharing time together and presents. When my kids were little, I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited about seeing their little faces when they saw the presents under the tree. I could see the top of the stairs from my bed and I would lie there quiet as a mouse and watch them sneak downstairs when they thought we were asleep to look at the tree and presents. Just seeing their little faces filled with excitement was such joy for me. They are older now, but I still love thinking about things they will love and watching their faces as they open their presents and how they insist I make trifle for them and that we keep all our other family traditions.

josie's avatar

At all
Sorry about the late lurve. I forgot about this question.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

Why, it’s tradition…

And a pretty fun tradition at that! ^_^

smilingheart1's avatar

How about because we actually believe.

GracieT's avatar

I know that Christ probably wasn’t born on December 25, that it used to be a pagan festival, and most people do not believe in what I do, but for at least once a year people share their love and good wishes and happiness. I am a Christian, but I’m secure enough in my faith to celebrate with EVERYONE, not just those whom share my faith.

JenniferP's avatar

I don’t. It is based on Paganism.

ninjacolin's avatar

^hmm, but I suppose it’s now more pagan not to.

JenniferP's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe -Yeah, it helps you with your golf game. Lol.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Yes indeed. Wood Nymphs are awesome. Shaves a lot of strokes off the score.

Response moderated (Flame-Bait)
GiantKyojin's avatar

It is largely blind conformity. Jesus cetainly never existed, and gods do not exist, either. The Bible implies that Jesus was born in summer, not in mid-winter. Early Christians just took over many exising temples and festivals. The current date of Christmas was when the Roman Saturnalia, a mid-winter solstice fete, was celebrated. I observe Japanese festivals but not those of Christianity. December 23 is our Empeor’s birthday.

Sinqer's avatar

For fun. What isn’t fun about the whole world taking a short break from our many disagreements to run around and make each other smile, to share the warmth of offered compassion where it is not the everyday norm.

I dare say for the same reasons we party, at least that’s my guess.

I am agnostic for lack of more precise term, and I can see that people enjoy the celebrating and traditions regardless of their origins. Others can’t put away the religious or atheistic tyranny concepts long enough to enjoy the celebration.

I don’t do holidays personally. I’ve often missed my birthdays, christmas,... well all of them. And my girlfriend knows that if she wants me to do something specific for some special day, she will have to remind me. I make it known that I have no intentions of trying to remember any particular day for any reason. Though I am not opposed to doing things to celebrate those occasions either when they arrive.

NerdyKeith's avatar

Christmas (despite its name) does not originate with Christianity. Many of the traditions associated with it come from pagan festivals and beliefs, such as Saturnalia.

olivier5's avatar

I celebrate it out of nostalgia for the long-dead “Christmas spirit”. Atheists are in serious lack of rituals to emphasise moral values.

Also, it helps keep the kids in line from October to December.

NerdyKeith's avatar

@olivier5 I do t think atheists would agree morality requires a ritual. Nor would I

olivier5's avatar

Atheists are often naïve. I think morality needs all the help it can get. And I do miss the christmas spirit.

NerdyKeith's avatar

@olivier5 What do you mean by “morality needs all the help it can get”? Morality is what one learns from life experience, influence of other people around you, an understanding of empathy etc. One does not require a certain type of spirituality, religion nor holy book to embrace morality.

You are generalising atheists there. And what exactly are they naive about?

olivier5's avatar

Their are often naïve about the power reason has on human minds.

NerdyKeith's avatar

@olivier5 You obviously don’t know very much about atheists if that is what you think. Atheists tend to be very pro reason. So I really don’t know what you are basing that on exactly.

olivier5's avatar

You obviously misunderstood what I was saying. Indeed atheist tend to believe in reason very much, but unfortunately reason is not a very sound basis for morality. Which is why I miss the Christmas spirit, which was a good occasion to drill some kindness into kids and adults alike.

NerdyKeith's avatar

Drill some kindness? That doesn’t sound very pleasant or kind to me at all. If you are promoting kindness, why is “drilling” needed at all? Sounds more like you are enforcing your beliefs upon others. Which I do not support at all.

I disagree with you. Reason is a sound bases for morality. If we (as human beings) did not embrace reason we would not understand morality. Morality is based life on experience, empathy, sense of community, influence of other human beings and unity between other human beings. It is with reason that take the experiences of life and consider all these factors to base our morality. So I completely disagree with you there.

Look we can keep going back on forth on this issue all day for the next year. We are clearly not going to see eye to eye on this issue. So at this stage, we shall have to agree to disagree.

olivier5's avatar

Drill may be a poor word choice. How about “teach”?
Reason can justify anything. It all depends on the premisses or the values that one uses to prime the computation. If you value social cohesion more than social competition, you will reason your way towards social cohesion. If on the other hand you value competition more, you can reasonbably justify less social cohesion as the price to pay for more competitiveness. It’s just an example.

SmartAZ's avatar

Lightmas. People celebrate Lightmas. We can send a man to the moon, replace his heart, talk to him any place in the world, connect him to all human knowledge in a few seconds, ... but if you want to really impress someone, show him a flashing light.

NerdyKeith's avatar

Actually I like to refer to it as Giftmas and I happen to find it very meaningful too. And many aspects of modern Christmas / Giftmas holidays are inspired by the traditions of pagan festivals (Saturnalia, Yule Tide, Winter Solstice etc)

VenusFanelli's avatar

Many people are Christians, and some other people just like Christmas.

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