The Reason for the Season (An Atheist's response)
Being an Atheist at Christmas time can be quite challenging.
Being just a whisper away from the biggest Christian celebration of the year I tend to get my share of provocation from the faithful claiming.
'oooh, if your an atheist, you should'nt be celebrating Christmas!'
Which leads me to put finger to key and get a few things straight.
For starters I dont celebrate Christmas.
I enjoy certain seasonal traditions and embrace them taking advantage of the holidays and the
time it grants me to be with my family.
I dont celebrate the supernatural birth of a blonde blue eyed Jew that seems to turn up on western interpretations of him.
I usually retort to such comments with,
'Do you have a Tree in your house?'
Which lets face it most people do.
They smell great and look really pretty.
You see the tradition of decorating trees at this time of year is as far removed from christianity as Dinosaurs in the Bible.
Christians only a few hundred years ago would've either had you burnt at a stake, or attempted to see if you could float with your arms and legs tied together for even thinking about such Pagan devilry.
Come with me if you will and take a brief stroll through factual history and find out what the real Reason for the Season is and discover
why a mathmatical equation has evolved into why we celebrate at this time of year.
In early December every year the sun is low in the northern sky and high in the southern. This is why in the north, daylight hours shorten each day and nightime gets longer, likewise its now summertime in the south. This is caused by earths 23.5 degree tilt, as it travels around the sun the density of its rays differ between Northern and Southern hemispheres.
When daytime is at its shortest and nights long, on or around December 21st we enter the winter soltice.
This used to scare to the shit out of our uneducated ancestors who were fully aware of the shortening day, a respite, then a gradual lengthening of the day in late december.
Many cultures feared that the shortening day would continue, and eventually cause the end of the world that they knew.
So, obviously when it didnt come crashing into a dark and murky end it was time to party.
It was the time of the birth of a new god to replace the old dying one bringing hope for a prosperous new season and a return to earths fertility.
And thus late december celebrations evolved.
One of the most interesting coming from ancient Rome and their Pagan religions.
They celebrated the birth of one of their Gods Attis in december each year around 200 bc.
Attis was born of the virgin Nana.
He was sacrificed as an adult in order to bring salvation to mankind.
He died around March 25th after being crucified on a tree and descended for three days into the underworld.
On Sunday he arose as 'The solar diety for the new season.
His followers tied an image of him to a tree on 'Black Friday' and carried him in a procession to the temple.
Once there his body was symbolically eaten in the form of bread.
(all sounds a bit familiar doesnt it)
The Babylonians celebrated the 'Victory of the Sun God' on Dec 25th
There was an even older ancient Pagan religion 'Mithraism' which worshipped the birth of their saviour Mithra, the 'Dues sol invictus'
(the unconqured sun).
Now this fella was believed to have been born to a virgin on (yup youve guessed it) Dec 25th around 500bc, witnessed by Sheperds and gift carrying 'Magi'
During his time he performed miracles, cured the blind, cast out devils etc.
He even celebrated a last supper with his 12 disciples, before ascending to the heavens in the sring equinox around March 21st.(how
These are to name a few of the religions all bearing similar mythical stories and all spurned by our planet, its 23.5 degress tilt and its
inhabitants fear of the unknown.
Seeing as the people of the roman empire were used to celebrating the birth of so many Gods on 25th December it was dead easy for the
church to draw attention to their new shining miracle Jesus without too much fuss.
The earliest Christmas Festivals were celebrated in the same fashion as Saturnalia, basically involving boozing, fucking and singing naked in the streets, (its a little known fact that this is where carol singing originates from, without the sex or drink)
For those of you that have bothered to read this, hope it hasnt bored you or offended you, as i mentioned its just a by product of being constantly lampooned for my lack of belief in one of the many imaginary Gods.
Some of you probably already know these facts.
Personally, like the early Christians i shall be observing a form of Saturnalia as much as i can get away with, and just maybe place my
tree at a 23.5 degree angle in a nod to this big old ball of stuff that we live on.
And hopefully, next year, the same people who question my Atheism will have read some non fiction and think twice before being so self
What ever your beliefs have a brilliant day on the 25th.