I celebrate no religious festivals since my childhood. I don’t do it because I am an atheist. I can’t find a reason to celebrate Eid, Puja, Christmas, Hanukkah etc. Do I need to celebrate something? Not really. But if I feel like celebrating a special Day, there are plenty of Days out there. Human Rights Day. Women’s Day, Children’s Day, International Labour Day, World Poetry Day, World Health Day, Darwin Day etc. A humane holiday is universal.
I get surprised when ex-Christian atheists instead of celebrating a day off work, celebrate Christmas. Christmas is a Christian holiday, a religious event — it is for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Atheists don’t believe in God the father, Jesus the son or the holy spirit. Atheists are not Christians, they do not need to participate in Christian holiday.
Many atheists even celebrate the pagan festival of winter solstice. Why do they need to celebrate a Pagan festival? It is true that many rituals of modern Christmas celebrations are pagan. But this is not a good reason to celebrate Christmas or Solstice. Atheists are neither pagan nor Christian. They don’t uphold ancient pagan superstitions, so why do so with those which happen to be popular at Christmas time? There’s nothing about ancient paganism which is any more rational than modern Christianity.
Richard Dawkins, famous atheist and evolutionary biologist, says, ‘I am perfectly happy on Christmas day to say Merry Christmas to everybody. I might sing Christmas carols – once I was privileged to be invited to Kings College, Cambridge, for their Christmas carols and loved it. I actually love most of the genuine Christmas carols. I can’t bear Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and you might think from that that I was religious, that I can’t bear the ones that make no mention of religion. But I just think they are dreadful tunes and even more dreadful words. I like the traditional Christmas carols. We are not kill joys, we are not scrooges. We give each other presents and when my daughter was a bit younger we would have a tree. We don’t now. We go to my sister’s house for Christmas lunch which is a lovely big family occasion. Everybody thoroughly enjoys it. No church of course.’
Some atheists say, Christmas has become so secularized that it prevents many atheists from abandoning Christmas. A new study says that people who do not believe in God go to church regularly for the sake of their children. I do not feel comfortable with the atheists who give funny and flimsy reasons to celebrate religious festivals. Many atheists badly need festivals! It would be better if they become humanists. Humanists get many opportunities to celebrate numerous festivals. If they believe in human rights or women’s rights, they can celebrate International Human Rights Day or Women’s Day. They can celebrate Labour Day, Children’s Day, Animal Rights Day, if they believe in labour rights, children rights and animal rights. If they are against slavery, they can celebrate Anti Slavery Day.
I do not celebrate religious festivals, I do not miss anything. I can celebrate a happy feast any day. I can celebrate a family get-together any day of the year. You can do the same if you want. You can give gifts to the children you love on Children’s Day. You can light up your home and neighbourhood on December 10 to celebrate Human Rights Day or on December 15 to celebrate Bill of Rights Day or on December 16 to celebrate Boston Tea Party Anniversary or Beethoven’s birthday. Do we really need Krishna, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad or any charlatan’s birthday to have our family re-union, to exchange gifts, to eat good food, or to light up our homes? The answer is simple, no.