Merry Atheist Christmas

It happened about 15 years ago. My boss came up to me on the morning of Christmas Eve and asked, “What is your religion?”

“None,” I answered.

He insisted, “What were you raised as?”


“Well, Merry Christmas anyway,” he said, and shook my hand.

So why the hell did he ask? Here is a tip, folks. Speaking for myself, I don’t mind people saying “Marry Christmas” to me. I do find it very strange that someone would first interrogate me about my religion, then, upon determining that I am not a Christian, wish me merry Christmas anyway.

Here is another conversation, weirder still, but more amicable.

A different supervisor at a different job approached me on the morning of January 07. He was Ukrainian and knew that I am Russian. He asked, “Do you celebrate the other, Gregorian…” – he wasn’t quite sure how to finish the sentence.

I jumped in helpfully – “I don’t celebrate either, but thanks for asking and Merry Christmas to you too.”

My other co-worker asked me what the hell that was about. I explained that many Eastern Orthodox churches still use Julian calendar, which means that Christmas actually falls on January 07th of the Gregorian (common) calendar.

I do not make a point of celebrating any kind of Christmas. It is not in my religion – since I have none – to celebrate Christmas and it is not in my heritage to celebrate it on December 25th. But if someone invites me to a Christmas party, I will gladly come. I will not go on a rant about an archaic religious ritual that has no place in modern society. I used to, but grew out of that. Besides, I am Russian, so I need very little excuse to join in on the drinking. There is a whole month of drinking, a succession of Gregorian calendar Christmas – what Russians call Catholic Christmas, then New Year, then Christmas again, then … get ready for this, you will like the name of this holiday: Old New Year. It is actually quite funny explaining to an outsider the concept of an Old New Year. You guessed it, this apparent oxymoron of a holiday also comes from Julian/Gregorian shift. Between December 25 and January 14 my liver is working overtime.

Fun fact: nowhere in the Bible does it say what date Jesus was actually born. So even from a literalist Christian perspective, December 25 is not in fact his birthday, but an annual celebration of his birth, real date unknown. The date was chosen to coincide with pre-existing pagan festivals around the time of winter solstice to ease the transition and expansion of Christianity. I find it thoroughly unobjectionable to have a merry time to celebrate fictional date of a fictional virgin birth of a fictional character of a rather poorly written book of complete fiction, which coincides with prior customs and observances of a very real celestial event.

So next Christmas, find the nearest Jew, or Hindu, or an atheist, or pagan (especially pagan!) and tell them Merry Fucking Christmas. And if the asshole goes on a rant, tell him if he doesn’t like Christmas, he doesn’t like stat holiday pay either.


One thought on “Merry Atheist Christmas

  1. Great post! Im an atheist who DOES celebrate christmas with my own meanings and reasoning. Sometimes i say happy holidays sometimes I say Merry Christmas, i dont understand how anyone can get upset over kindness.


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