Canadian humanist Justin Trottier reflects on the holidays:
Humanists hold an ambivalence regarding this season. Like mostly everyone, we value generosity, altruism and fellowship, and emphasize the need to celebrate in a secular sense with friends and family, with good food and drinks, with songs and even decoration.
We see nothing wrong with adapting religious holidays to secular festivities, considering that Christmas is almost entirely a loose adaptation of various formerly pagan rituals. We also appreciate the sense of reinvigoration when we crack open brand-new calendars and behold the unwritten future. But humanists see no intrinsic value to the holiday season apart from any we humans put in it, and worry that if we over-emphasize specific days and rituals, we fail to put the holiday in its proper historical, political and sociological context.
I agree. Every day is a birthday to celebrate, and treating Christmas as a unique day of love and brother-and-sisterhood commits the very error my Sunday School teachers warned me about when they derided “Sunday morning Baptists” who back-slid the rest of the week. I am one humanist who would love to reclaim Christmas for us all, and the rest of the calendar for a more genuine spirit of Christmas.
Then, maybe we could begin to give up our dependence on pseudo-spiritual holidays devoted so intently to mega-shopping and forced cheer. The celebration of life should be an unforced flower, not an obligation.