A Humanist Celebrates Christmas

Why would non-Christians celebrate a Christian holiday?

Mine is a Humanist family. My son discovered Santa fairly early on. Not sure how – just know that at one point we were in a store and he saw a blow up Santa and got excited.  I hadn’t told him about Santa –he just absorbed that on his own.

Christmas doesn’t hold any religious significance to us.  However, we do celebrate it. But that isn’t unusual as we celebrate lots of holidays during this time of year.  During the month of December we celebrate Solstice, Saturnalia, Festivus, Kwaanza, Hannukah and Christmas. Divali & Eid are also celebrated when they occur in December and when we can find decorations. Interestingly enough, the one holiday we don’t really celebrate is Human Light, the Humanist holiday.

Our house is very festive with all sorts of decorations of different types.

Here is our philosophy about the holidays. If there is a party and there is food involved, we want in.  By celebrating all the holidays we help our son gain a better understanding of the variety of traditions and beliefs that people hold all over the world, Christmas and Christianity being just one of those traditions. As a result – he’s way more aware of religious diversity than your average kid.

He does know the Jesus story and baby Jesus is his favorite. We took him through a walk through Bethlehem a few years ago and he loved it. Though, he did think the tomb could have and should have been improved upon. He was 7 at the time.

He loves the idea of a cr├Ęche and if we ever have the money we will be buying a plastic light up set complete with camel.  We also want a large blow up menorah and a giant blow up globe tilted for solstice.  We put up lights and everything.

My son loves the Hanukah tradition of lighting candles every year. And yes, we cheat and use our menorah for Kwanza as well. For me – the big holiday is Saturnalia as it is the most humanistic of all the traditions, and it’s the basis of most of the pagan elements of the Christmas celebration – like the trees and candles and things. Santa looks a LOT like Saturn probably because that is the archetype. We have a Saturn figure that is about 3 feet tall for Saturnalia. Every year we take him out and cut the bindings on his feet in a little ceremony and when the season is over, rebind his feet.

I asked my son what part of our family tradition he likes the most – and he said – it’s hard to say – I like them all.  From unbinding Saturn’s feet to lighting the menorah to our Festivus style Christmas tree (and yes – he does prefer minimalist over the regular type trees) to the holiday lights to Christmas morning and opening presents.

So – to answer the question, how do Humanist celebrate Christmas, we have let our son know about what religious Christmas is really about for Christians. And we apparently have done a very good job of that because when we went through that walk through Bethlehem when our son was 7, our guide was VERY impressed at our son’s level of knowledge about the Jesus story – particularly surrounding his birth. I’m sure they thought we were a good Christian family as a result. Little did they know!

Happy Christmas to all you Christians out there - and happy whatever it is you celebrate to everyone else! You may wish me a "Happy Chriskwanzukah" if you feel like it.

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