Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let's change the date of Christmas!

I largely like PZ Myers. But, like many atheists, he's in denial about Christmas. He says, here, and a number of other spots, that Christmas is really a secular holiday.

Which is why it's the busiest day of the year for Christian churches, right? The secularness just packs the Christians into churches. Ugh. It's not a secular holiday, it's a religious one, by and large, and obviously so.

But Myers quotes some thing or the other about how the US courts have largely claimed that Christmas is a secular holiday. I feel that's an appalling ruling. I think that's a clear and transparent attempt to keep this religious holiday on the federal books - because, again, it is clearly a religious holiday for the overwhelming majority of people who celebrate it in the United States. And given such preponderance, to call it secular is absurd.

And I can prove it! If Christmas is a secular holiday, well, let's move it. There are good reasons to do so. In particular, it is criminally irresponsible to encourage people to drive on icy roads. Auto accidents shoot way up in December compared to both November and January - and the reasons are clear. People do lots of driving on lousy wintry roads. So, why not change it the date of Christmas to September, when the roads are a lot better, to minimize the thousands of preventable injuries. It'd be a much better idea to do shopping in late August instead of December!

I will take it as given that everyone reading this knows that could never happen. Not because of the inertia of it, either. Holiday dates have been changed plenty, and they will be, again. But I think we all know that Christmas can't have it's date changed for reasons founded in religion. That the Christians could not endure it because they view Jesus' birthday as December 25th and so to celebrate Christmas at any other time violates their religious beliefs.

Still, the date should be changed. It's crazy to encourage people to crowd the roads on days that are often icy. It's downright irresponsible.


Anonymous said...

Back in Rome, people started worshipping Mithra, who promised eternal life. His birthday was on Dec 25th... When Christianity came around, they kept that same date for Jesus.

So, realistically, couldn't christians move the holiday without much trouble since it was never ACTUALLY Jesus birthday? They're using an old pagan bull gods birthday!

I saw this on Cities of the Underground when they investigated the gladiator days in Rome, so I don't remember it all exactly, but December 25th had more to do with Mithra than Jesus and it was just a holdover from their old religion into the new one :)

You'd think that, with such an obvious crossover from one religion to another, people would start to consider that NO religion is "real" since all religions cannibalize each other ;)

Unknown said...

Chi, totally. I feel that Christianity is, er, a Hebrew form of Mithraism that got Romanized a second time (it sounds pretty convoluted, but it happened fairly often in the Eastern Mediterranean). The whole gig with born from a virgin on the 25th of December, visited by three Persian magi (now, why would Persian magi visit a Hebrew child? on the other hand, it makes sense for them to visit the son of Ahura Mazda, a Persian god and all). Not to mention the "Apostle to the Gentiles", Paul, came from Tarsus - which was the center of Mithriasm in the Roman Empire. Paul literally came from the first Mithraitic city in the Roman Empire! There's actually just fairly enormous amounts of evidence to demonstrate that Christianity is a Hebrew form of Mithraism. But Christians *can't* talk about it because they believe that Jesus was the son of their god and all of that, and if Christianity was merely another human institution that grew out of the particular circumstances of the times without divine intervention, well, how could they worship that?

But I think that all religions, because they do borrow from each other, are equally "real". But, then, again, I also think all religions are more or less equally stupid, so a "real religion" is a pretty low bar for me, hehe.

Axiomatic said...

Wouldn't putting Christmas in August actually put it closer to Jesus' probable real date of birth, since we can be pretty damn sure he wasn't born in December?

eacousineau said...

I know that you mentioned the US Congress in your post before discussing changing the date and that your intent in changing the date is more or less of a jesting way to protest Christmas, but to strengthen your point about the dangers of icy roads you might want to specify that the change should happen "in the US" - otherwise someone may think you mean around the world, where the seasons occur at different parts of the year.

eacousineau said...

Also, I am a Christian and found the Mithraism claim to be interesting. Have heard of such a claim before, and will continue investigating them.
First two sources / analyses I have looked into thus far:
1. An atheist organization's perspective -
2. A Catholic organization's perspective -

Have not investigated Jesus's birth-date, but I do believe in His existence. Of course, I will continue to investigate this as well.

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