To XMAS And Beyond


Merry Christmas! People would be amazed that 1) many non-Christians celebrate the holiday season and 2) many Christians unknowingly implement pagan traditions into their commemoration of the baby Jesus.

This video takes a quick glance at just a few beloved Christmas traditions and some of their origins.

NOTE: This is an update of a video which originally released in 2011. In this version, we’ve added more sources for the information provided.

Written By: Seth Andrews – The Thinking Atheist
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  1. I celebrate Christmas. I was raised Catholic but never embraced the religion, even as a child. But Christmas has always been my favorite Holiday from the time I believed in Santa . I love all the lights, decorations, being with family, opening presents, giving presents, watching the little kids. Just a lot of great memories. To me it’s not about religion, but celebrating family and life.

  2. Do I celebrate Christmas?

    Oh sure I do, but not in a faith-based way. And anyway, one would be hard-pressed to persuade me that our distant descendants will celebrate the season the way I do now (if at all). It appears the earlier Christ followers didn’t even celebrate it.

    Traditions change!


  3. Arguing about the contradictions in the bible is counterproductive. By framing the debate this way you are saying that if the religious can reconcile these contradictions then they are right and if they cannot then they are wrong. A more effective method adds a little home field advantage. Simply ask enough questions about the person’s religion until they are forced to admiit out loud that there is no reasonable (arguable) basis for any of it. This will usually come in the form of the conversation-ending statement, “Well that’s just what I believe.” At which point you can move on to smugly enjoy your pagan-based celebrations without a single utterance of the word pagan.

  4. The most delicious observation you can make about feasts like Christmas, I think, is not that they have pagan traditions and symbols at their hearts, not even that they have pagan origins, but that those meanings often so drily summoned for their justification are always widely ignored. People like to eat and drink, they have mothers making them come visit, there are good social and hedonistic reasons to have these feasts, and they have never changed for all moralistic waffle about being nice to each other. To the inebriated multitude, proper Christianity is an insignificance.

  5. In the U.K. it is good to have a holiday  and parties in mid winter and look forward to warmer times,This country needs more fun at any time especially dull cold and wet mid winter.

  6. Yuletide Greetings to all – and have a good mid-winter celebration.

    Xtians stole the midwinter festival earlier from other religions, but now it has been stolen from all by the new religion – COMMERCIALISM!

    If I need to make a choice, the Viking Mid-Winter Yuletide feast & beer festival looks good enough for me!

  7. No, I don’t celebrate Christmas.
    I know many Atheists eagerly participate in the rituals of religious holidays like singing the carols etc. But I just can’t stand all that because of the connection these things have with religion. The knowledge that these things have a religious heritage, whether Christan or pagan, turns me off. I cannot get any enjoyment of the music when the lyrics spread a religious message. I admire those Atheists who somehow manage to enjoy the communal part of the holiday when the family gets together while ignoring the religious part. But I simply can’t get into the holiday spirit, even without religious symbolism and rituals. I do something else instead.

  8. As Stephen Colbert lamented just last week, “Black Friday has become so commercialized.”

    So true. Sigh.


  9. Everybody have a Cool Yule – after recovering from the Dec 21st Solstice activities – before building strength for your New Year shindigs….

  10. Nice video !I´ll enjoy better the season having watched the video I guess: I´ll have some holidays on Xmas because I really enjoy the season (perhaps missing some members of the familiy doesn´t make it so special).

  11.  I agree with Aztek. I believe that celebrating xmas gives it credibility. Since so many atheists celebrate it, they are perceived as xians. Whenever anyone asks me if I’ve finished my xmas shopping, I always tell them that I am an atheist, therefore (one would think it would naturally follow) I don’t celebrate xmas. I do get tired of being perceived as a grinch. Please see Tom Flynn’s excellent comments on the topic, here:… and elsewhere. Can’t atheists switch to solstice if they must celebrate something? Or Festivus… If you want to reply to tell me that I just don’t understand, please don’t bother. If you don’t like xmas either, please stand up and be counted.

  12.  I can’t think of very many things that are more fun than watching a child wake up at the crack of dawn, go flying down the stairs, seeing a whole bunch of presents underneath a decorated tree, and then tearing into them. You shouldn’t deprive yourself or your family of that just because of its ties to ridiculous Bronze Age superstitions. The secular traditions of a Christmas are a hell of a lot of fun. The whole notion of a day to give presents to people you love, have a lot of food and drink, and take a day off from working is an awesome idea.  Enjoy it. Personally, I’m not all that worried about how people who believe in an invisible man in the sky perceive my holiday celebrations.

  13. I love Christmas and the whole season; it’s always been my favorite. A day of celebration and families coming together in the middle of a dreary season? There’s a good reason that so many cultures had something similar!

  14. I’m a stone cold atheist but I do enjoy the Christmas season. Yes I have a small tree in my home because it just invokes so many fond memories of my childhood and how cool and fun it was to believe is Santa Clause.     

  15. After decades of hearing carols asking for figgy pudding, I would really like to try it.

  16. Holly wreath around Jesus’ neck and lights on the cross?
    Crown of Thorns on Santa?

    Mele Kalikimaka!

  17. My Views are summed up in this poem:
    You see pretty lights
    I see smoke from power stations
    You see lovely wrapping paper
    I see landfill
    You see the baby Jesus
    I see an outdated fallacy
    You see joy & laughter
    I see sad faces of the lonely and bereaved
    You see Father Christmas
    I see struggling parents
    You say Merry Christmas
    I say…Is it?

  18. My response to the ‘Why to you take part in Christmas’ question is: Do you take part in Halloween?

  19. I refrain from using the term “Christmas” as in “Christ” … Jesus Christ.. and “mass”, as a mass in honor or celebration of someone or something.

    I do not celebrate Christ-mass… I celebrate Winter Solstice, which is what this particular tradition at this particular part of the year originally was in my part of the world (northern europe) until the Christians invaded the lands of my forefathers, killed those who would not convert, and stole our at the time current celebration of Winter Solstice and turned it into a Christ-Fest.. or rather.. Christ-mass.

    So no… I do not celebrate Christmas. Because I am quite convinced that even if there were a historical figure by that name, he was not much to celebrate.

    In fact, I find the term Christmas to be an abhorrent reminder that my countrymen have embraced the religious delusions imposed on our forefathers and thus also us; by penalty of death. These days people write of our “Christian Cultural Heritage”.
    I wonder if Germans talk about their “Nazi” Cultural Heritage in the same warm tone of voice….
    Christian or Nazi, in a historical perspective; I see no much difference….

    On that note, I will retire to my work and refrain from further commenting.

    Merry Winter Solstice everyone, and Happy New Year. 🙂

    Best regards, Kåre Olsen.

  20. With a user name such as “Aztek” surely you’re a
    pagan, i.e. not a true atheist!

  21. Any excuse for a midwinter Yule Log fest. It’s a natural thing to enjoy the quite of winter provided it’s not too bleak.

  22. Saw a report on the BBC news this morning about the lighting of a large Xmas tree in Bethleham. Of course, it being the BBC, the report made no mention of the irony of this pagan symbol being used in the literal birthplace of Christianity.

  23. A work colleague who was Jehovahs Witness once declared that he didn’t celebrate anything at Christmas because of its pagan origins. As far as I’m concerned, he’s short-sighted. He can ignore the nativity as JV’s do, but forget all that, enjoy the rest of it. Presents, both giving and receiving, feasting, drinking, over-indulgence, decorations, the tree, Santa and reindeers and the little myth about that we all grow out of, but still find amusing, especially for the kids. That is irreligious because it’s all come from down the ages from different countries.

    I celebrate for the above reasons and as far as I can remember, that’s how it always was in my family. I did the school nativity play, but knew I didn’t believe, but the christians can have their nativity (no matter about the misunderstandings in the bible as the video said), and I like hearing carols sung.

    As far as I’m concerned, the time of year encompasses all; all religions can enjoy the festivity side of things, and it certainly can retain the name of Christmas, because that doesn’t matter at all.

  24. I’ve seen some comments here from people who staunchly will not celebrate anything at christmas because of the religious connection. Again I say you are missing out. Imagine that religion died out. I suspect that christmas, festivity-wise would still be going 100 years after that and most likely still called christmas.

    Take ‘Bonfire night’ or as it was called ‘Guy Fawkes night’. Today people light fireworks, maybe the kids make a ‘Guy’, perhaps a November barbecue in the garden while watching the fireworks. How many families bother with the origins of a Catholic attempt to blow up Parliament? That is certainly not what is being celebrated, or the capture of Guy Fawkes. It’s just become a fireworks fest and a chance to party.

    If Halloween has dark origins, today it’s about kids dressing up for fun. Nothing more.

    As I said elsewhere, my Hindu neighbours do Diwali etc, but also have christmas parties, and why not? They don’t have to look to the nativity if they don’t want to, what with all the other things going on.

    The time of year can be irreligious and fun. Sometimes I think people can take their ‘atheism’ far too seriously.

  25. It’s better to just be nice to people everyday rather than wait til the year’s almost up to do so.

  26. It is nice to find some one that shares the same opinion, my family are all christians with exception to my sister, whom is a muslim because her husband is a muslim, but any how my son and I are Atheist  and we do not celebrate xmas, we think that we can celebrate a family reunion any other time of the year and as many times as we wish to be together with family with out the religion, it is hard to share a nice dinner with people that actually do it because of the tradition, it makes me feel sort of hypocrite with my self,  we as family with different views have a more enjoyable get togethers when no believes and traditions are attach. 

  27. I have always celebrated it, although I’ve never been religious. Giving gifts to friends and family pleases me, and I love the music for about two weeks, even the religious melodies can be tearjerkers so long as I ignore the saccharin lyrics.

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