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'No God' Doesn't Mean 'No Christmas' For All Non-Believers

“My lack of belief has little impact on my observance of holiday traditions."

Whether celebrating, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza -- or maybe “Chrismukkah” -- ‘tis the season.

Even for many atheists.

Absence of faith in God does not mean cultural holiday celebration is necessarily lost.

“My lack of belief has little impact on my observance of holiday traditions,” says 31-year-old Temecula resident Adrian Flores. “While I do not mark the birth of a religious figurehead or revel in the pagan rites that served as the figurative headwaters for modern-day Christmas, I do treasure the familial sentiments and warm traditions this season brings.”

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center and released in October, more than 13 million, or 6 percent, of Americans describe themselves as atheists or agnostics, and an additional 33 million people, or 14 percent, say they have no particular religious affiliation.

That 20 percent of America is a large slice of the shopping-season pie, and that could be a reason why so many retailers replace “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Chanukah” with the politically correct “Happy Holidays.” Nowadays, references to Christmas seem to have more to do with the bottom line -- “Save 50% through Christmas Eve” or “2-Day Shipping: Get It There By Christmas” -- than wishing good cheer.

The shift in retail marketing strategies over the last 20 years suggests corporations aren’t counting non-believers out of the biggest sales month of the year, and for good reason.

“Exchanging holiday gifts and merriment is just as important to me … as it surely is to someone doing the same out of religious faith,” Flores confirms.  

Fountain Valley resident Jeffrey Isbell, 59, agrees the holiday season is a special time of year. Raised a Protestant Christian but now an atheist, he still celebrates many of the traditions of Christmas. Afterall, exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees and waiting for Santa Claus to arrive aren't bound in religion.

“It is a whimsical time. [As a child] I thought ‘The First Noel’ was a pretty song, and I think it’s pretty now,” Isbell said. “However, [Christmas] is more of a cultural experience for me, rather than a religious one.”

Isbell says that while holidays like Christmas and Chanukah are based on religious faith, the true meaning is not always as clear on a societal level.

For Flores, the meaning of the holidays is based in what some may consider very Christian ideology: “Togetherness, rather than divisiveness," he said, "is the truest testament to the strength of family and a powerful statement of the meaning of the holiday season."

LBV Collins December 27, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Lazy hippies and two-bit moochers, Jimmy? Or maybe an unemployed carpenter? You seem to continue to miss my point. Christ could be walking among us right now. Watching you, watching me... but especially you (a devout self-righteous Christian?) as you mock unemployed college students who have racked up tens-of-thousands of dollars in student loans to pay for their college education and who now can't find employment. Do you really think the way Jesus would reach out to them is to yell, "Get a job!" <sigh> Believe whatever you want, Jimmy. Mock whomever you want... all in the name of Jesus. It's your soul, not mine.
Carl Petersen III December 27, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Big John 9:34 am on Thursday, December 27, 2012 "176,395,008 citizens of the population that do not pay taxes. . . Who does that number include? Kids in school? Retired people? How do you define taxes? Are these people somehow avoiding sales taxes? How about FICA?
Carl Petersen III December 27, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Reply Big John 8:41 am on Thursday, December 27, 2012 "This conversation has become so lame. Does anyone really believe they are going to change anyone's mind or opinion about Christianity?" . . The article was about how non-believers celebrate the holiday season. It was was the narrow minded commentators who decided to chime in that Jesus was the only reason for the season. Who is trying to change who's mind?
Carl Petersen III December 27, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Jimmy Almond 9:41 am on Thursday, December 27, 2012 I doubt Jesus would feel sorry for lazy, hippies who chit in the streets and protest free markets. This was all a liberal pose against capitalism." . . God did not create Capitalism,man did. Therefore, it is not perfect. You can try to change the flaws in the system without condeming the entire concept.
Jimmy Almond December 27, 2012 at 10:08 PM
LBV said: "Do you really think the way Jesus would reach out to them is to yell, "Get a job!" Believe whatever you want, Jimmy. Mock whomever you want... all in the name of Jesus. It's your soul, not mine." I will mock whomever I choose if those that I mock are the lazy .000000000099% who instead of attempting to make an honest buck, reject employment for hand-outs (The no-good bastards). Most of these bums are just excuses that failed in their demonstrations. Even many on the left thought they were senseless. And I don't owe a single dime to college kids who took out loans for school. Do you think anyone of them would help me pay my mortgage? Greed can also be defined as those that expect to be taken care of by the city, state, or the Gov't without doing a thing in return. Sorry, existing isn't enough. Obviously, there are exceptions when good people have lost their jobs. But that .000000099% Occupy bit was laughable. They even recruited the homeless in their plight. And they were filthy as in they did use the downtown as a toilet and mocked those who walked by them. Oh how terrible to be dressed in a suit and tie and have a well paying job, eh? LBV, I couldn't care less if Jesus slapped the life out of the sad excuse known as OWS. It was a fraud anyway. You see, as you've mentioned earlier, you never know who Jesus really is. And you should worry about your own ass - that should keep you busy for a very long time.
LBV Collins December 28, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Good evening Jimmy. A couple of points. Regarding your remark "...the lazy .000000000099% who instead of attempting to make an honest buck, reject employment for hand-outs," I suspect you don't realize that if you multiply .000000000099% by the 7 billion people on our planet, you get 0.007 people. (i.e. No one.) Regarding your suggestion, "And you should worry about your own ass - that should keep you busy for a very long time," Actually, worrying about me does keep me busy... all the time. And so does worrying about my loved ones. Don't you worry about yourself and your loved ones all the time? (Truthfully, i suspect you are a responsible person and I imagine you do worry about your family's welfare all the time. It's what we responsible folk do. But you seem to lack the empathy for others less fortunate than you... the empathy that I imagine Christ possessed and tried to teach to others.)
Carl Petersen III December 28, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Jimmy Almond 2:08 pm on Thursday, Jimmy Almond "And I don't owe a single dime to college kids who took out loans for school. Do you think anyone of them would help me pay my mortgage?" . . There are some differences between a mortgage and a student loan: 1) If you do not pay your mortgage, you will be foreclosed on and kicked out of your house. If you do not pay your student loan, they cannot erase your knowledge. 2) If you run into financial problems you can declare bankruptcy, move out of the house and have the loan discharged. No such protections exist for student loans as the bankruptcy court is not allowed to discharge these loans.
Jimmy Almond December 28, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Carl said: "There are some differences between a mortgage and a student loan." Makes no difference to me. I borrow, I pay. The student borrows and should do the same. I owe nothing to anyone except for what I borrow. I'm not a student loan default program.
Jimmy Almond December 28, 2012 at 04:36 PM
LBV said: "But you seem to lack the empathy for others less fortunate than you... the empathy that I imagine Christ possessed and tried to teach to others." I'm empathetic to those that deserve empathy. I'm against the miserable leeches of society that suck from the fruits of the labor of the willing. I have no sympathy for these cockroaches - NONE! They Food stamp, welfare, Gov Assisted housing the USA to death. The OWS movement was a sham. Liberals are all about love - they love poor people…as long as they stay poor.
Carl Petersen III December 28, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Jimmy Almond 8:26 am on Friday, December 28, 2012 "Makes no difference to me. I borrow, I pay. The student borrows and should do the same. I owe nothing to anyone except for what I borrow. I'm not a student loan default program." . . It is sad that you are so tied to your convictions that you cannot see shades of gray. A student today graduates in a job market where recent college graduates have an abysmal chance of getting a job in their chosen field, but they still have to pay back a loan they took out based on the assumption that they would be making more than a barrister at the local Starbucks. You can walk away from your home, they cannot walk away from their education. There are other options besides going to the tax payers. The schools could be forced to put some skin in the game by being forced to provide either some of the financing or providing money while the loan is in default. I think that this would make them more proactive in making sure that the value of the diploma is in line with the cost of the education. The banks should also be forced to assume more of the risk. Why should the government provide more protection to a student loan lender than they do to a mortgage lender?
Carl Petersen III December 28, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Roberto 9:22 am on Monday, December 24, 2012 "Yep, just like I thought, You have not been to New York City and have faith it exist. Tangible? Nope, you have not been there therefore you take it's existence on faith." . . Since Roberto seems to have walked away from the table, I'll show my hand. I was born in New York City. Once again you have your facts wrong.
Carl Petersen III December 28, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Jimmy Almond 8:36 am on Friday, December 28, 2012 "Liberals are all about love - they love poor people…as long as they stay poor." . . First, what do you base this statement on? Second, is this kind of like how Conservatives love fetuses as long as they stay fetuses. Once they are born, they are on their own.
Jimmy Almond December 28, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Carl said: "It is sad that you are so tied to your convictions that you cannot see shades of gray." I'm not a bank. Neither are you. People who took out mortgage liar loans or borrowed deeper than their pay checks should have allowed are no concern of mine. Students who borrow for their education are not guaranteed a job or a job market in their field upon graduation. The moral of the story: PAY YOUR DAMN BILLS! Or get your electricity shut off. I'm sick of your excuses, Carl! No wonder you love the welfare state - cradle to grave, California.
Carl Petersen III December 28, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Jimmy Almond 9:20 am on Friday, December 28, 2012 "I'm not a bank. Neither are you. People who took out mortgage liar loans or borrowed deeper than their pay checks should have allowed are no concern of mine. Students who borrow for their education are not guaranteed a job or a job market in their field upon graduation. The moral of the story: PAY YOUR DAMN BILLS! Or get your electricity shut off. I'm sick of your excuses, Carl! No wonder you love the welfare state - cradle to grave, California." . . It is obvious from your response that you did not bother to read my post.
lovemycountry December 29, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Colossians 2:8, See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. "Judging God by mans standards is not knowing God. Remember we were created and who better to seek wisdom and knowledge from than the one who created us". Before we slander Christ we should get to know him :)
Big John December 29, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Amen
Michael December 30, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Carl Petersen lll, after I read your post when I said Mormons are probably the most dedicated Christian religion towards God. And then you said "I didn't realize that this was a measurable thing. You probably don't care, but I actually find that comment quite funny. In a good way. But, like I said you probably don't care. And don't come back saying anything to me like, "Why would you just assume thing." Please, I am just guessing that you don't care, but I just wanted to point that out.
Michael December 30, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Shane, as you said, Billy Graham called the Mormon sect as a cult UNTIL Romney ran for President. You clearly did say "until" and until usually means it changed. And for the rest of you Imperfect Man and Vic, are you settling on my side or just commenting on what Shane said.
Michael December 30, 2012 at 04:59 AM
Imperfect Man, yes that was a question. And thanks for not arguing with me about the Mormons being Christian thing. I don't know if you agree with me or not but at least your not trying to prove me wrong like Shane. So I would like to thank you for that. Finally, something good that happened between me and you. Or, at least, something not bad.
Michael December 30, 2012 at 05:03 AM
One last thing, some of the things taught by Mormons may be different from the Bible. But, Mormons still believe in God and Jesus, have the same teachings, and have the Bible. If you don't like what we are teaching then ignore it. Or maybe just try to learn what Mormons believe and become more educated. Just stop saying that Mormons are all this and that and they don't believe in the Bible or whatever you guys are saying. The Book of Mormon (not the play) doesn't change our belief with the Bible.
Vic December 30, 2012 at 05:31 AM
Michael...my reply was mostly directed at the stupidity of Shane's comment, but, in your defense, I side with you. I have spoken at length with Mormons and found them to be a very sincere people. While I don't agree with your deviations from the Bible, I know you are Christian at heart. Don't think for one minute that the opinion of people like Shane have any influence on anyone with half a brain!
Imperfect Man December 30, 2012 at 10:08 AM
In case you hadn't noticed Michael, this wasn't an article about whether or not Mormons are Christians. Whether or not Mormons are Christians is not a debate I will have here. Nor am I going to continue responding to your attempts to make it such a debate. You have someone agreeing with you below, and that is fine. Now you can rest easy and go on with your beliefs. I am not the one you have to convince, you are that person, nobody else.
Carl Petersen III December 30, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Michael 8:53 pm on Saturday, December 29, 2012 "You probably don't care, but I actually find that comment quite funny. In a good way. But, like I said you probably don't care." . . Who doesn't appreciate a compliment? Thank you.
Michael December 30, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Thank you, Vic. At least someone on the Patch I can have a little respect for.
Michael December 30, 2012 at 04:05 PM
See, in my opinion, we are making som pretty good peace between each other. And Imperfect Man, sorry for trying to make this a debate about Mormons being Christian. I still think Shane is against it. Some people's minds you can't change.
Jimmy Almond January 01, 2013 at 04:49 PM
The idiot liberals think Mormonism is such a nasty cult. But Islam is a peaceful religion. Just wait until that peace, breaks the USA into fragments in the coming years. The Muslim in Chief is LHAO at the USA, the very country he chose to destroy. The very country, the libs allowed him to destroy. Everything he campaigned on - unemployment rate, job creation (LMAO), debt (21 trillion at the end of his 2nd term), etc was a complete lie. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Middle East is laughing as well. Thanks, Libs!
Carl Petersen III January 01, 2013 at 04:56 PM
Jimmy Almond 8:49 am on Tuesday, January 1, 2013 "The idiot liberals think Mormonism is such a nasty cult. But Islam is a peaceful religion." . . I don't think that it is the Liberals who think that Mormonism is a cult. I would look instead to the Evangelicals. I personally oppose all fundamental forms of all religions. That is where you will find the danger of religion.
Carl Petersen III January 01, 2013 at 04:58 PM
Jimmy Almond 8:49 am on Tuesday, January 1, 2013 "Just wait until that peace, breaks the USA into fragments in the coming years. The Muslim in Chief is LHAO at the USA, the very country he chose to destroy. The very country, the libs allowed him to destroy. Everything he campaigned on - unemployment rate, job creation (LMAO), debt (21 trillion at the end of his 2nd term), etc was a complete lie. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Middle East is laughing as well. Thanks, Libs!" . . "Finished with my woman 'cause she couldn't help me with my mind..."
LBV Collins January 01, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Good grief, Jimmy. I don't know where you're getting your info from, but it seems to have induced extreme paranoia in you. The world... and our nation... is not nearly in the desperate and dire condition you imagine, where the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse are about to descend upon us. Chill out, friend. We're going to continue to survive... as we always have.
archie's bunker January 01, 2013 at 06:26 PM
Five blind men were brought up to different parts of an elephant and asked to describe it. One, who touched his ears, said the elephant is like a sail. The one who touched the trunk said an elephant is like a hose. The one who touched the foot said an elephant is like a tree trunk. The one who felt the tusk said an elephant is like a hard smooth stick. The one who touched the tail said--like a rope.

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