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chelle21689's avatar

What do you think about those who celebrate Christmas but don't know its meaning?

Asked by chelle21689 (7647points) November 19th, 2011

I was just thinking about this. My dad is Buddhist and my mom is Catholic. My dad’s side of the family are Buddhist and all celebrate Christmas. I think it’s a good idea even if you’re not Christian because it’s still family time, loving, and caring which is what Christmas should be about. I’m not a religious person and I don’t consider myself too much of a believer BUT

I find it a little messed up that those that celebrate it don’t even know that it’s the celebration of Jesus’ birth. I know it’s not his exact birthday but it’s still a celebration for him.

My boyfriend is Buddhist and he doesn’t know much about the Christmas meaning (Jesus) and honestly he seems to be only Buddhist because it was he was raised to be in but he’s not religious at all.

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24 Answers

chelle21689's avatar

Also, could someone explain to me about the Pagans. Is it true that the Christians took this idea from them?What did Pagans believe?

Aster's avatar

There are actually people who have no idea that Jesus’ birthday is celebrated on that day? Even though it is not the real day.

wundayatta's avatar

Yes, the Christians had a habit of laying their holidays on top of existing Pagan holidays. Christmas is a solstice holiday and Easter is a birth and rebirth holiday.

There is no “real” meaning of the holiday. Sure, there are meanings that people believe and these include all kinds of stories. But right now the story is a story that people tend not to recognize, and if they do recognize it, they despise it.

Right now, the holiday is about a number of things, but it is arguable that the most important thing it is about now is promoting the economy. If we get the economy going as hot as we can, more people will be employed and doing well. Then we won’t need Christmas charity, which doesn’t help pin the long run. Jobs are what people need, not handouts. The best way to create jobs is for people to spend as much as possible.

Christmas is designed to make people feel good and giddy and guilty. These emotions impel people to buy, and that juices the economy, which makes people’s lives better.

Of course, most people look at that and see only crass materialism. They think the meaning of Christmas has been adulterated and diminished, because it’s supposed to be a spiritual thing, not a materialistic thing. We’re supposed to have good will towards all. And somehow, good will is supposed to be a feeling, not something material.

Feelings are all nice and all. And we can get drunk on eggnog and give handouts to the homeless, but frankly, that all rings pretty hollow to me. People need concrete action, and buying stuff and handing it out is a way of taking concrete action that will make a difference in the long run. We need consumption or people will freeze and go hungry. The materialistic impulse is actual a spiritual impulse that does more for others than any form of charity.

I do not mean to be cynical here. I think the true cynicism is in the people who denounce materialism. Of course, they think it’s common sense, and as usual, common sense is not supported by the data. Consumerism actually does make a material difference in people’s lives. Materialism is not a bad thing, unless we actually want people to be mired in poverty.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Wait, which is the meaning? The history, in which it is a celebration of Jesus’ birth, or that it’s a time of family, loving, and caring?

What Christians did (in general) was tailor Christianity to local customs when spreading Christianity in the first few centuries of the Middle Ages. Most religions seem to have some kind of winter festival, so Christians decided to put the holiday as the winter festival. And then it’s easier for people to convert – they don’t have to give up their old customs, just alter them a bit to include Jesus and maybe exclude the old deity (or, maybe just relegate him to a backburner status…). But did you have the Yule log before? Some greenery strung up in decoration? Oh, you gave gifts? Congratulations, you can still do all that – just make sure to mention Jesus and Mary and God a few times. And that’s just how Christianity worked at spreading, not just in the beginning, but throughout many, many points in history.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@wundayatta The destructive part of the materialism is that it conflates money spending with love. It helps to confuse children from a young age into thinking that if Mommy and Daddy loved me as much this year as they did last year, they would have spent just as much money on me as they did last year, but they didn’t, so they must mean to communicate that they don’t love me as much. It says that the boyfriend who loves you the most is the one who is the wealthiest, not the one who treats you with the most respect. It is inflated to a point of eclipsing all other methods of communicating love and appreciation.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I’m an atheist that celebrates Christmas.. enthusiastically, most years. It’s about family and tradition, for me, not Christ. I care very little what believers and non-believers alike think about me celebrating. Of course, I also have nothing against other non-Christians celebrating Christmas. Sometimes I mix it up and call it giftmas, just to avoid confusion.

MilkyWay's avatar

I’m not Christian. I’m an agnostic. But I still like to celebrate Christmas anyhow, as it’s a time of ‘cheer’. It’s a time when everyone gets together and is happy. I think nowadays, Christmas is no longer seen as a ’religious’ festival, but rather a ’traditional’ one.
GQ btw.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’m not a Christian, I’m an agnostic as is most of my family but in 40+ years, I’ve not met anyone aside from toddlers who don’t know the roots of the Christmas observance. I guess I’ve gone half of my life assuming many people also celebrate it as “family time”, the time their jobs let them get away to gather in groups if they want.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I think a lot of people don’t give two shits about what many people view as the “real” meaning of Christmas, because they’re not religious. I think most people know that Christmas is supposed to be about Jesus’ birth, simply because of the “Christ” in Christmas… but they’re not going to celebrate it as such since they’re not believers.

Most other people I know who are atheists, still celebrate Christmas, but they celebrate it as a time to spend with their families and friends. But it has definitely become too commercialized as a material holiday. Instead of “Who will I spend the holiday with this year” it’s all about “What am I going to get this year”. That’s why I’ve begun taking my children Christmas shopping for less fortunate children from the “Angel Tree” at Walmart, so they can see Christmas should be more about caring and generosity instead of greediness.

YARNLADY's avatar

Christmas celebrants insist it is a non-denominational holiday, so more power to them.

amujinx's avatar

“Also, could someone explain to me about the Pagans. Is it true that the Christians took this idea from them?What did Pagans believe?”

Most people think that Christmas was originally a derivative of Saturnalia, but Saturnalia ends on the 23rd of December. I’m more inclined to think of it as a derivative of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti if you want to stick with Roman holidays, which was celebrated on the 25th. Even this is speculation though, as you can see at the end of the page I linked on it. Chances are, it is just a stand in for generic solstice related winter festivals.

Sunny2's avatar

I’m not a Christian either, but I do believe in a lot of the teachings of Jesus, particularly peace, grace, and mercy. Christmas, to me, is a reminder of the goal of peace. As for celebrating a holiday without knowing what it is for, how many people know why we celebrate Halloween, Valentine’s Day or, for that matter Labor Day. (in the U.S.) Easter is about Easter eggs and candy isn’t it? (That may be blasphemous to some, but allow me to be snide and please grant me mercy.)

lynfromnm's avatar

Many people are off work at Christmas and schools are closed, so it’s easier to get together with loved ones, whether or not one is a Christian. And the decorating and gift giving and elaborate meals are fun, whether or not one is Christian.
As an aside, it would be discrimination to prevent non-Christians from having the Christmas holiday off with pay. I realize no one is suggesting this – but it is an interesting legal element of the discussion.

Linda_Owl's avatar

I am atheist & for me Christmas is a time of sharing of gifts with those about whom you care. It is enjoyable & fun. It is NOT the birthday of Christ, the roots of the winter celebration go back centuries before the origin of the Christian religion. So celebrate & be happy & don’t worry about religion.

dogkittycat's avatar

I’m not a religious person but I was raised roman catholic. I appreciate the significance of Christmas and enjoy gift giving and recieving( who doesn’t?) as long as families are together, close and are grateful for one another does it really matter?

jerv's avatar

Funny that you mention the meaning of a holiday that was stolen anyways. Yes, it is true that the Christians stole Yule (a winter festival in late December, around the winter solstice), as well as Ostara (a celebration of the rebirth of nature during the Spring), and Samhain, (a late-October celebration of those who have passed on).

Just as Christians stole Yule to make a holiday celebrating the birth of a carpenter, Christmas has been stolen and turned into something else; something that has little/nothing to do with a savior-on-a-stick.

Then again, at least I know the origins of Christmas, and find that many people don’t. Those same people are often also ignorant about a great many other things. (“Who are the Beatles?”) They make me weep for the future.

Berserker's avatar

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t at least know that Christmas has something to do with Jesus. As said by a few already, its origins are much older, and less people know about that. But I don’t think it’s a big deal. Who needs a reason to celebrate. :D

Drink up, Judah Ben-Hur! :D

augustlan's avatar

How does anyone (raised in America, at least) not know it’s ‘about’ Jesus? Even if you’re an atheist (which I am), it would be extremely hard to miss all the religious aspects of Christmas. Around here, we even get billboards that say “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

Aethelflaed's avatar

I don’t know. I didn’t know it was possible to not know Christmas had something to do with Jesus’ birth, seeing as how every time someone says “Happy Holidays” some fundamentalist Christian goes on a vocal 20 minute rant about the War on Christmas and taking the Christ out of Christmas. Groups that aren’t Christian tend to be very aware that they aren’t Christian in America.

saint's avatar

I know plenty of people who celebrate in the season of Christmas, without any loyalty or belief regarding the birth of whomever it was that we now call Jesus Christ.
And why not?
It is fun, it affirms basic and universally human values like family and generosity, as well as friviolity and celebration of being, even in adverse circumstances.
I personally can not stand people who insist that Christmas be totally about Jesus, or who insist that those who enjoy Christmas must apologize to those who do not.

blueiiznh's avatar

There is nothing wrong with it. I try to embrace and celebrate other religious events so I can better understand what those are about.
There are people who celebrate Federal Holidays in the US an know nothing about them. It is their choice if they want to celebrate something and be uninformed. Kind of silly on their part if you ask me, but c’est la vie.

rojo's avatar

I do not, personally, celebrate christmas. I enjoy the holiday season, the time off, the fellowship of others, the food, the gifting, (I am not overly fond of the muzak that starts the day after thanksgiving), the good cheer, the lighter mood most folks enjoy, the decorating, etc. but I do not celebrate it as the birth of christ.

amujinx's avatar

@rojo The music that starts after Thanksgiving? There is already a station here that is playing Christmas music 24/7, and has been for the past week and a half.

rojo's avatar

@amujinx I am so sorry. It will not be too long before it starts the day after labor day.

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