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Anybody else interested in a non-religious-but-not-too-consumerist-either thread?

(13 Posts)
IsItMeOr Mon 26-Sep-11 22:26:37

That's it really. DS is going to be 2.9yo this Christmas, so think he'll be starting to get more of the build up, and we're keen to start getting some nice traditions established.

We're atheist humanists, so nativity things are obviously out, but we also want to avoid going too overboard on the material side too.

So far I'm thinking of making an activity advent calendar (if I can think of enough activities), new pjs on christmas eve and adding a new tree decoration for him to have for his own collection when he's older.

Having sorted DS's existing toys at the weekend, we're also wondering how to introduce the concept of passing on some of your old toys to the charity shop to make room for new ones. Would also love to hear how others have introduced the idea of giving.

Anybody else want to share ideas?

verybusyspider Mon 26-Sep-11 22:31:09

its Christmas... non religious advent calendar... I don't get it

biscuit

IsItMeOr Mon 26-Sep-11 22:36:16

Oh. Did I need to explain why we want to celebrate at Christmas, although we're not Christians? I'm treating the advent calendar as a countdown to a big event (so back to the Latin root of the word really), rather than anything else.

verybusyspider Mon 26-Sep-11 23:04:13

sorry my last post was very rude.... I'm genuinely confused as to why you want to count down to Christmas if you don't believe its Christmas if that makes sense, the countdown to what big event? ('advent' is from the latin word 'adventus' meaning 'coming') I know of lots of non Christian families who will acknowledge the event (its an enforced holiday for one) but don't do the presents and traditions of Christmas like advent calendars as it is traditionally a Christian festival, they have their own festivals and special times in the year....

That aside it is a big thing in our society and nursery and schools so I suppose you could change the advent calendar idea to be the coming of Father Christmas?? - although its based on St Nicholas I think it does have some historical fact and is about giving, maybe a nice story to share. There were lots of festivals about winter solstice (22nd december I think) are there any traditions you could adopt about the days getting longer and the end of winter?
The Christmas shoes boxes are a good way of showing giving and talking about others with less - I think there are non-religious organisations who do these (Shelter box is one) a donation to a charity every year would be a good tradition, we should all do more of that!
I would also acknowledge what Christians think about this time of year as well, you can get your beliefs across at the same time.

sorry again that my first comment wasn't very helpful, Christmas however you celebrate it is a very magical time of year

IsItMeOr Tue 27-Sep-11 07:43:34

That's a very gracious post spider, thank you for that, and the good ideas. Yes, that was how I was thinking about using the calendar - I was swayed by the suggestion that it means you can have a nice family time that lasts for a month, rather than placing too much pressure on a single day to have extra special family time iyswim.

I've been reflecting on your earlier post, and realised that many Christians will be concerned about the secularisation of Christmas, and so my thread title could upset them. That wasn't the intention - just to find like-minded people interested in a celebration to bring families and friends together to brighten up the winter gloom, with a focus on giving. DH and I grew up in CofE families in England, so we see Christmas as part of our cultural heritage, as well as part of a longer tradition of midwinter celebrations.

I haven't come across the shelter box before, and they're one of our regular charities, so I'll have to look that up. DH and I haven't really talked yet about how to explain other people's beliefs to DS, although I think it will be something like you say. Maybe in a year or so though, as we're still covering the basics at the moment (e.g. taking turns, don't hit smile).

Definitely agree with you about the magic, and it's absolutely still there even if you don't believe.

I manage to celebrate Christmas without getting involved in the religious side (except for the bits the DCs do at school that is smile) As far as I was aware most of the trappings surrounding it were co-opted from older festivities anyway? For us it's a celebration of family and an excuse to touch base with people we might not see enough during the rest of the year, presents are nice but not the point. It's the getting together that I love (plus I have a thing for pretty fairy lights...)

We do an advent calender, for us it's never been anything but a countdown towards 'the big day' when we spend a couple of days visiting different parts of the family.

I'm trying to think of traditions we have - Christmas Eve we have a buffet dinner and spend the evening picking at food and playing games. DCs also get a gift to open that evening too, usually a book that they can read in bed rather than spend ages saying they're too excited to sleep grin

girlywhirly Tue 27-Sep-11 08:46:53

I think you could celebrate Yule as they did in mediaeval times, the twelve days of Christmas where the yule log had to be kept burning or the next year would have bad luck. I gather that the royal court kept up their celebrations between Christmas day and twelfth night, so you could do something special each one of those days.

You can have the pagan evergreen decorations, tree, holly, ivy and mistletoe. You can explore the origins of the mince pie which was a combination of both savoury and sweet ingredients. The story of St Nicholas also brings the tradition of hanging stockings and gold (choc nowadays) coins, also the spirit of his generosity to people less fortunate, so the giving of gifts could be in remembrance of that. You can place the emphasis on sharing in your celebrations with family and friends, sharing meals together etc.

You could investigate whether there are any local appeals you could donate to, our local paper used to do one where you donated a new toy, and they would wrap the gifts and distribute to families on the poverty line.There's also the mumsnet appeal which does similar, matching a donor with a family who could benefit.

AChickenCalledKorma Tue 27-Sep-11 12:05:38

Although I am a Christian, I think it's very thoughtful of you to find ways of having an actual festival, with family traditions, rather than just going for an all-out consumer-fest grin And I don't see why you shouldn't adopt the notion of Advent as a time of preparation and counting down to the festival, even if you don't have the religious aspects of it.

Was going to suggest Yule traditions, but girlywhirly beat me to it. Lots of the Scandiavian traditions have more to do with Yule than Christianity. Yule log in the fire and/or covered in chocolate on the table? Heart shaped paper baskets on the tree that miraculously get filled with sweets on Christmas Eve? (Make them like this.

Emphasise evergreen decorations, as a celebration that life goes on in the middle of the dark winter. That's worth celebrating, regardless of your religious views.

The only tradition I've established in our family is that each year the girls get one Christmas decoration in their stocking. They go in a special box, with the intention that they will be able to take them with them when they leave home, to start their own family life. At least that's the idea. When the time comes, we may find that I want them more than they do!

girlywhirly Tue 27-Sep-11 12:52:35

Good point well made, Chicken about the consumerism. IsItMeOr's Yule winter festival has the potential to be as spiritual in it's own way as a Christian one, because it will be about people and generosity and sharing and traditions, not a passing nod to the Christian festival while throwing money at it, and not believing in it.

CaptainNancy Thu 29-Sep-11 10:21:11

We celebrate Christmas in a similar way- though we use the advent calendar to teach the children about the story of Christmas, as I feel it's an important part of their heritage growing up in Britain, and there are many active Christians in our extended families. (DH is buddhist, I am atheist)

We have a tree (a real one) each year, and we go as a family to choose and carry it home. We all decorate it together, and have a family-only day that day. (I also buy 1 decoration new each year, though they are pestering me to let them choose now they're older)

We have a crib scene too, which they love playing with (in fact they get upset when it's time to put it away for another year).

We haven't introduced Father Christmas/Santa- but nursery has done that, so they do talk about him... DD stunned us at 22mo by saying 'Man gon come, bring presents' hmm but we don't say the presents are from him, but from who actually gave them IYSWIM.
For us it's a time to be with family and friends and spend time together, playing games, eating nice food, going to concerts if available, watching 'The Snowman' <<sob>>. We don't go in for much consumerism in our daily lives, and Christmas is no different there.

I do try and take them at least once to a children's Christmas service, usually a Christingle if we can find one, I will probably switch that to midnight service once they're old enough, as I always used to love going to that when I was younger.

IsItMeOr Fri 30-Sep-11 08:47:24

Ooh, lots of lovely ideas. I'm going to have to think with DH what we want to do.

CaptainNancy - really interested in how you handle the Christmas story and that you go for Christingle service - I can see your point. Will have to relect on that.

Definitely planning to do Father Christmas though, but only for stocking and his main present from us.

girlywhirly Fri 30-Sep-11 09:27:02

When I googled Yule, an absolute wealth of ideas and traditions are to be found.

IsItMeOr Fri 30-Sep-11 10:21:34

Thanks girlywhirly - I suspect our problem is going to be to not go overboard smile.

I've really appreciated all the thoughtful posts, thank you [imagine christmas smiley here].

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