With all the Christmas posts, I thought readers might find this of interest: The Grinch Delusion: An Atheist Can Believe in Christmas. The fact is that religious traditions are a part of human culture, and they interact with ostensibly non-religious parts of human culture. To extirpate all that is religious from one’s life is to extirpate human culture. As it is, a holiday like Christmas is a complex compound of many disparate strands and affinities. There was a War Against Christmas during the Cromwellian interregnum because of the association of the holiday with “Papism.” Of course the War failed because Christmas is not fundamentally Catholic or Protestant; winter festivals have likely been part of European history since the rise of agriculture with its particularly seasonal rhythms (many of the holiday traditions, such as Christmas cookies, predate the arrival of Christianity to northern Europe and the Christian Church occasionally attempted to suppress them during the early medieval period). Note that even the Christmas-skeptic quoted in the above article is selective about his aversion to festivity with a religious tint:
Even hardliners like David Silverman, the national spokesman for American Atheists, the group founded by Madalyn Murray O’Hair, find it difficult. Many of Mr. Silverman’s fellow atheists celebrate the Winter Solstice, which occurs Thursday at 7:22 p.m. Eastern Time, or HumanLight, a humanist event created in 2001 by a group of New Jersey residents and observed this coming Saturday. But not Mr. Silverman, who feels that any such doings around Christmastime are suspect. “There’s such a Christian flavor to it,” he said of the season, “that it’s just not to my taste.”
But he added that, as with his mother’s Passover, some seasonal participation is just too hard to avoid.
Besides, he admitted, “I do like to go to the parties.”