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Non-religious meaning of Christmas

(38 Posts)
Misty9 Thu 12-Nov-15 20:08:15

Ds is well and truly a child of consumerism,and just loves getting presents. I'm not particularly religious but dh is atheist so what else can I say to ds that Christmas is about? I've said family etc, but was interested in how other non-religious parents handle Christmas.

Fluffy24 Thu 12-Nov-15 20:15:11

It's a celebration of mid-winter and the turning off a corner towards spring.

In the 'olden days' peasants like us would had a hard slog all winter before central heating, air-freight tomatoes, etc. Therefore it was good to celebrate getting past the half way point!

PresidentUnderwood Thu 12-Nov-15 21:41:44

You could just say that 2.1 billion people believe it's baby jesus's birthday.

Why do you need another explanation?

dementedpixie Thu 12-Nov-15 21:45:12

It's a time for giving and receiving and bringing happiness to others. Nothing to do with Jesus for me I'm afraid.

traviata Thu 12-Nov-15 22:44:55

presidentunderwood because that would be a lie.

Most of the world's population do not believe it's baby jesus's birthday.

LittleMissGreen Thu 12-Nov-15 22:53:18

confused but there are 2 billion Christians in the world presumably they think it is Jesus birthday.

nancy75 Thu 12-Nov-15 22:58:46

Family for me too, time to get together have a nice time. Jesus doesn't get a mention in my house I'm afraid.

IoraRua Thu 12-Nov-15 23:02:04

Traviata I'm pretty sure the poster said 2.1 billion, not most of the world. So not a lie then.

WhispersOfWickedness Thu 12-Nov-15 23:09:36

It's a mid winter festival to me, a chance to put up twinkly lights, eat nice food and snuggle ourselves away with our families to make ourselves feel better about the dark and cold smile

InternalMonologue Fri 13-Nov-15 11:38:26

In your circumstances I'd say "Christians believe it's Jesus' birthday, and because that was the main religion in the country for so long we still celebrate it even though we (as in your family) no longer focus on that part. Lots of other cultures do mid-winter celebrations too and for lots of people it's a nice way to get together with family, but that's why Christmas is the way it is."

Obviously depending on his age you could elaborate more on other midwinter celebrations, etc. But that's how I do it.

myotherusernameisbetter Fri 13-Nov-15 11:47:04

We concentrate on the "spirit of Christmas" angle. It's a time to be thinking of others and showing that we care by giving gifts. It's in Winter because it can be a dark miserable time and people need something to look forward to and to celebrate the turning of the corner towards spring and the new life.

We are atheists but have always allowed the children to see what they thought themselves. We'd say things like "some people think x and some people think y" it was many years before they asked what we thought. They are teenagers now and they also believe it is a pile of dangerous poo.

AuntBess Fri 13-Nov-15 12:36:56

Isn't it a bit daft not to mention Christmas is to do when Christ? Even as atheists, that is after all what it's about for millions...

IssyStark Fri 13-Nov-15 13:31:48

We have always said that Christians celebrate it as the birth of Christ but before Christianity became widespread here there were always mid-winter festivals which gave people a chance to relax and enough time with their families and eat and drink.

We've explained about the Christmas Story (I think it is important to understand the religious traditions and the folk tales surrounding it) but we've also talked about the different traditions in different European countries, so when Swedish, Dutch kids get their presents etc etc. It means that dc are growing up knowing there are lots of ways of doing Christmas within Christian tradition, and that's before we get on to other religions' festivals which involve families and presents such as Eid, Diwali, Purim etc.

myotherusernameisbetter Fri 13-Nov-15 13:35:17

Yes AuntBess, but they already get told all that at school etc. I think what the OP meant and what I meant is how we explain to our children about what Christmas means when we don't believe in God - I don't not believe that Jesus existed btw so that bit isn't really an issue, however it is well established that he probably wasn't born on the 25th of December.

MidnightVelvetthe4th Fri 13-Nov-15 13:52:29

I tell my boys (10 & 6) that Christianity has taken many older celebrations from different beliefs & claimed it for itself ( Easter from the old festival of Eostre for example) in order to make itself more acceptable to the people of those times. Before Christmas was Christs Mass it was a celebration called Yule or Yuletide in the middle of those dark midwinter months. Its was a time of feasting & relaxation as the harvest was in & there was plenty to eat & drink & people made warmth & light & sat with each other to tell stories of their heroes & gods & to celebrate being human & being together & the cycle of the year.
Now we live in family groups rather than tribes we still like to get together with family & friends & reaffirm the bonds that tie us to each other and to relax in each others company. Its a time for love & peace & for showing warmth to strangers and for doing good deeds & passing the happiness along.
We have talked about elements of the old Yule celebration that we still have, the chocolate Yule log, the keeping of the 12 day cycle, the bringing in of greenery from outside like holly, ivy & mistletoe (not the tree) singing songs etc.
They know the story of Christ as they are taught it at school & they understand the Nativity story & they are free to believe it if they wish.

Christmas means different things to different people & like modern Christianity, we must feel free to pick & choose which bits we like & wish to uphold.

TheGonnagle Fri 13-Nov-15 13:57:08

We don't do Christmas per se, rather celebrate Saturnalia, and the longest night aspect. In our house it is treated as a mid winter festival, with lots of greenery indoors and twinkly lights.
We have been celebrating mid winter in this country long before the Christians appropriated it as the wrongly dated birth of their saviour!

Floggingmolly Fri 13-Nov-15 14:00:44

It's a religious festival. Don't celebrate if you choose not to, but seriously; looking for "non religious" aspects to tell your child? hmm

AgentCooper Fri 13-Nov-15 14:03:08

I'm a largely lapsed Catholic (don't often to go to chapel, but still believe in something) but I do get very emotional at chapel on Christmas day, at the hymns in Latin and nativity scenes. I always start to feel 'THIS is what Christmas is about' and find the manic materialism really horrible.

But in my heart I know that those things make me feel 'Christmassy' because they mean time spent with loved ones, joy in giving and receiving to the people you love (not coveting as many toys/handbags/Xbox games as you think you deserve), time to take stock at the end of the year and remember what's important. I think Midnight hits the nail on the head here: Its a time for love & peace & for showing warmth to strangers and for doing good deeds & passing the happiness along

I think it's totally fine to see it as a time everyone can enjoy, religious or not, because it's about kindness, love and being together.

Hurr1cane Fri 13-Nov-15 14:06:22

Jesus wasn't born in December though, it's when Christians celebrate his birth, but it isn't his birthday.

Arfarfanarf Fri 13-Nov-15 14:10:26

Explain that it is a festival that predates Christianity and they chose to use it, same with Easter.
Tell him people like celebrations and festivals and that's why they have them, whatever they call them and whatever they say they are for.

myotherusernameisbetter Fri 13-Nov-15 14:12:08

It's a religious festival. Don't celebrate if you choose not to, but seriously; looking for "non religious" aspects to tell your child?

It's not originally a Christian festival as has been explained before but that's very christian of you... hmm

InternalMonologue Fri 13-Nov-15 14:14:04

*Hurr1cane Fri 13-Nov-15 14:06:22
Jesus wasn't born in December though, it's when Christians celebrate his birth, but it isn't his birthday.* Point - I was thinking of children in my family's level of understanding.

Varya Fri 13-Nov-15 14:15:40

Saturnalia

Thumbcat Fri 13-Nov-15 14:16:46

I look on it as a festival that Christianity hijacked for its own purposes - not a religious festival. Personally I love the whole 'peace and goodwill to all men' aspect and you don't need to believe in God to celebrate that.

HeadDreamer Fri 13-Nov-15 14:19:38

I tell her stories about santa clause. And the school does the nativity. It's just a story isn't it? I don't bring religion to it.

Same as Easter with the easter bunnies. I actually told my 4yo it's a fertility symbol. She doesn't really quite get it though.

Is it that hard to say it's a story. Just like Halloween? I bring in discussions of customs and traditions. I'm chinese so I tell her about ancient chinese believes in a moon goddess, and she lives on the moon with jade rabbit. How she ate an immortality pill given to her husband and flown to the moon. And how her husband got the pill by saving the earth shooting down 9/10 suns. These stories are just as believable as Christian ones to me. And ancient chinese do actually believe in them!

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