Am I A Christmas Hypocrite?

I was listening to Radio 2 today and they had someone on talking about Christmas in terms of midnight mass and other religious things (I think he was a vicar, but I missed the beginning of the segment) and I found myself feeling cross.

“This is the BBC”, I thought, “why am I listening to religious things?”.

I thought the BBC should be a bit more moderate and found myself wondering if they had a Kohen on for Hanukkah or an Imam for Ramadan. But then it occurred to me – they were talking about CHRISTmas. You know, the religious holiday?

The problem I have is this; I don’t believe in Jesus. But I kind of do. Let me explain:

I don’t like to pin down my beliefs and give them a name. I think there are aspects of Christianity I like, such as the message that we should all be nice to each other, but I like that in the same way that I like aspects of Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Jainism, Rastafari and so on and so forth. I’m open to the concept that there may have been a man called Jesus who spread the word of love and tolerance, but do I believe that he was the Son of God? No, probably not. However, there are large aspects of each of them that I dislike (less so with Buddhism or Jainism) and I don’t celebrate the festivals of any of the other religions, so why do I celebrate Christmas?

There’s a quote from one of my favourite films that has always really resonated with me. It’s from Dogma, the Kevin Smith film about religion and may not be a heavyweight in terms of theological debate, but for me, this is profound:

Rufus: He still digs humanity, but it bothers Him to see the shit that gets carried out in His name – wars, bigotry, televangelism. But especially the factioning of all the religions. He said humanity took a good idea and, like always, built a belief structure on it. 
Bethany: Having beliefs isn’t good? 
Rufus: I think it’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier…

IDEAS. That’s how I feel. I could never in a million years say that I don’t believe in anything, because I just don’t know and it would be terribly narrow-minded of me to refute anything, but the scientist in me just won’t let me get my head around the earth being created in six days. But hey, if I’m wrong, I’m wrong! Another quote I love is this:

‎”If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change.” -The Dalai Lama

That’s just beautiful, as far as I’m concerned. That is how it should be. Don’t ban science lessons which include evolution. How about we teach our kids ALL of the ideas?

But anyway, my original point – am I a Christmas hypocrite? Well, I just don’t know. Sausage doesn’t know the story of the nativity as such and I have no plans to teach it to her just yet. I knew it by her age as I went to a C of E primary school and we had hymns, psalms and all sorts every day, but I’m just not ready to teach her the nativity yet. Maybe Husband can jump in on this one, he’s far better at teaching her things than I am! But am I a hypocrite for celebrating Christmas without telling Sausage WHY?

I’d love to know how you feel about this. Are you having a totally non-religious Christmas? Do you ever feel weird about celebrating a religious festival with no intention of attending church? Or do you do the full-on Christian thing and teach your kids about Baby Jesus? Hit me up in the comments box!

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14 thoughts on “Am I A Christmas Hypocrite?

  1. I’m agnostic. But HOW MEAN would it be to not have a Christmas?! I teach Gibby the Christmas story. I also tell her about Santa too. Christmas is about more than religion. Great post x

  2. I think it’s lovely the children have a story to hold onto, but we can give them many and varied ones. They will hold in their heart those bits than resonate with them and there is comfort to be gleaned by all of us who want it and by a coming together, for whatever purpose Any excuse for a drink, I say!

  3. My son is still a baby so we don’t have to worry about negotiating talks about the meaning of Christmas with him for a few more years, but I must confess it’s more of a holiday and a chance to see family, than it is religious in our household, despite both myself and my husband attending festive church services and singing hymns at school when we were younger.

  4. This is a great post! I completely get where you’re coming from with it too. I just wanted to ask though, how on earth has Sausage avoided the nativity story now that she’s started school? I thought schools had to teach some kind of RE and also that the Christmas story would be inevitable once you’re in mainstream education?? BUT I applaud you for wanting to take your time with that one. I remember clearly when Eva learnt the story. We took her to a nativity at church where all the kids got to dress up and she had great fun. But when we got back to my mum’s she burst into tears and told her grandad she was so sad that Baby Jesus was dead! It took us ages to convince her that he didn’t die as a baby 🙁
    She constantly asks questions about it all though so its always worth being honest with your own thoughts and ideas 🙂

  5. Hypocrisy schmipocrisy. Christmas is only Christian in name.

    The whole ‘Christmas’ thing originates from Pagan celebrations which tie-in with the winter solstice.

    Historians believe that Jesus’ birthday was likely around mid-September, roughly 6 months after passover. It was Pope Julius I who decreed that his birthday should be celebrated on December 25th as an underhanded means of getting the remaining Pagan Romans to convert to Christianity without a ruckus.

  6. Ooo all my Christmas’s have been non-religious ones, but I’ve never thought to stop and question why I do celebrate it…Hmmm I’ll have to think about this one.
    And I am totally with Rick on the Easter Eggs!

  7. Good one Jayne, Interesting how we feel about the festive season. As you know I am atheist too but I like this time of year simply for a reason for family and friends getting together and in some cases putting past disagreements aside. As long as we have retailers, I think it will continue. Are the Easter eggs in the shops yet. Thanksgiving is preferred by many Americans, its just like Christmas without the gifts.

  8. My response is who isn’t a Christmas hypocrite these days, and I for one think its great!! Whether we see ourselves as religious, spiritual, atheist, agnostic or whatever. From my small world point of view Christmas should be a time of tolerance. Some of the traditions of Christmas have sprung up from virtually nowhere, some are part of marketing ploy, they have been borrowed from pagans, and so on so forth. This weekend I found myself in Church with the Mister singing religious carols, we were there to watch our little pickles take part in a playgroup nativity session. As an atheist i have no problem with them learning about this aspect of Chrimbo, i see it as part of a story telling tradition, and in this sense would be happy to read them from he Bible, Torah, Qu’aran. I was pleased to be invited into a Christian place of worship and have them share with me the meaning that they attach to this winter festival, it is much aligned with the way that I think of this time of year, a time to share, celebrate and give. These are things that i do believe in, so why should i not be allowed to celebrate them. Carry on as you were I say, and have a wonderful christmas.

  9. I am not religious by any means and even more so after the last few years as I just don’t understand some of the things that have happened, but I wanted to take my little man this year to a christingle, daughter and I used to go every year and I wanted him to understand a little more, I have checked out times and they just don’t fit in with my plans sadly, so I have some ribbon, candles and bought some sweets, explaining we will hold our own, he told me off…it’s grapes and raisins not sweets, so I’m still doing it but I also know he understands the real meaning as he told what every part represents, made me proud that he understood, I also believe Christmas is a time to rejoice those still with us and those whom either by choice (don’t want to know us) or by death can be remembered fondly and with love x

  10. We call it Christmas because the shops call it Christmas, but it’s widely accepted that Jesus was actually born in September and the celebration was moved (I believe by the Romans) to the same time of year as the other winter festivals (and there are plenty of them) so that it would be more readily accepted by pagans. And it worked, probably because like most us they didn’t really care what it was called as long as they got their holiday!

    At this time of year I celebrate my family, love and life in general. I am grateful to the world (which may as well be my God) for all that I have. Like you I believe in the idea that Jesus may well have existed and tried to spread good thoughts, but not that he was divine. Have you ever seen the movie Millions? In it a saint explains the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5000. He says that each of the people who came to hear Jesus had brought a little bit of food with them in their pockets, and because they were good people they thought ‘I already have a little food and there isn’t much to go round’ so they passed the loaves and fish onto the next person. Each of them did this which meant that the loaves and fish went untouched. So the miracle wasn’t that Jesus fed 5000 people with a few loaves of bread and two fish, it was that 5000 people chose not to be greedy and settled with what they had for the sake of others. I’m no Christian but that’s a message I can get behind.

    Personally I don’t believe in organised religions as I don’t understand how you can be taught what to believe, plus it seems daft to close yourself off to some ideas just because someone with an old book or a few scrolls tells you to. We can and should learn from everything.

  11. As a born again Christian I do the “Christian thing” as you say and teach my son what the real meaning of Christmas is all about, the birth of Christ. I’ve always wondered myself why an atheist would celebrate Christmas or Easter, when he/she doesn’t believe in God, Jesus, salvation, etc. Trust me, I’m not being judgmental, I really am just curious to know.

  12. I was raised in a very strict religious house and I have a lot of religious Friends who I love and think the world of, however I dont ‘believe’ and even as a child lots of what I was taught in church every Sunday just didn’t sit right with me. As I have a lot of religious Friends, I totally respect their views, beliefs and opinions. Each to their own.

    Like you, I believe there was a man called Jesus and I think he was a very clever man, probably born way before his time. I think he did spread messages of love and his heart was probably in the right place…or was he just a fame hunter?

    I think Gods were used back in the day, to control the population. I hope Im wrong though and there is more after this life. So many people I want to see again on the other side.
    Great post Jayne, you got my brain all fired up, on this cold Monday morning x

  13. Ooh this is an interesting read. I’m a Muslim but I went to Christian schools and so did all the prayers and hymns and was Mary in the nativity. We also had “Christmas” every year but mainly just the Xmas dinner which we still do now. We never had a Xmas tree nor did we attend mass …but the hubby suggested we get a tree next year for little z because he’d probably like it. I went to mosque till I was 14! Sounds like such a mixture of upbringing but I am fairly stable 🙂

  14. I don’t think it makes you a hypocrite, I just think that living in a Christian country we’re brought up to celebrate Christmas whether we believe or not.
    I’m Pagan and I’ll be celebrating Christmas purely because my parents do and I live with them, I’d much rather celebrate Yule but for a couple of days what’s the use in arguing!

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