Well, it’s about 3 hours to Christmas here in Sydney.
As an atheist, there are a few things I could have said there to avoid mentioning Christ. With a bit of adjustment to the date, I could have substituted Midsummer (not Winter Solstice, we’re in summer down here, although you wouldn’t know it from the rain we got today), Cephalopodmas, Winter-een-mas or Festivus; or I could have skipped it altogether. (Xmas would be an ineffective choice – the letter # has been used to represent Christ almost since New Testament times.)
However, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that, in Australia at least, Christmas isn’t a particularly Christian thing anymore. It’s a family and gifts and food and wine and holiday thing. Johann Hari makes the point that the materialist taking-over of Christmas is not necessarily a bad thing – and although I reserve judgment on that specifically, the fact that the whole country grinds to a halt for a supposedly Christian holiday and it doesn’t have any significant Christian effect on most people is, on the whole, probably a positive sign.
As in many things, Richard Dawkins sums it up nicely (quoted from here, although I know I’ve read it somewhere else):
So divorced has Christmas become from religion that I find no necessity to bother with euphemisms such as happy holiday season. In the same way as many of my friends call themselves Jewish atheists, I acknowledge that I come from Christian cultural roots. I am a post-Christian atheist. So, understanding full well that the phrase retains zero religious significance, I unhesitatingly wish everyone a Merry Christmas.
My thoughts exactly. Merry Christmas everyone.
I’ve taken the next couple of weeks off, and I plan to use it to, among other things, get the “blog regularly” mentality hammered into my head once and for all.1 comment