Christmas has it’s rooted in the Christian event: the birth of Jesus Christ, but is no longer considered a religious celebration but has gotten a more social influence. The only difference between Christian celebration, Atheism celebration, and other faiths and religions is a title difference.
The Time for Joy and Celebration
The ending of the year, the beginning of a new one (including Christmas) is a period of joy and celebration, gift-giving and receiving. A fictional, yet still religion-based character: good old Santa Clause, has surpassed the real character for whom the holiday is dedicated, straying so far off the original biblical course, that fewer and fewer people even recall the true meaning of the day. So it is no more hypocritical for an atheist to celebrate Christmas, a day of gift-giving and joy than it is for them to celebrate any other non-religious Holiday like Thanksgiving, Halloween or even a Christian celebrating Christmas for the same commercial reasons.
But to better see the link or gap between spirituality and the 25 of December, it’s better to understand the origins of this day.
Origin of Christmas
This holiday has it’s a root in the Roman pagan celebration that was called Saturnalia, held between the 17th and 25th of December, a week of lawlessness. The Romans closed the courts, and no one would be punished in this period for vandalism of injury brought to other persons. In the 4th century, Christians actually imported this festival, hoping that they will bring the pagan community with it.
The only problem was that this day had no particular religious meaning, so, because the Bible doesn’t have an exact date for the birth of Jesus Christ, this day was set as just that.
So this date was set as the day Christ was born, not for the fact that Christians thought that in this month the actual event took place, but because they wanted to draw the pagan community into their faith. Despite the lack of success Christians had to accomplish with this, the date stuck and still is celebrated today on the 25th of December.
So in reality, Christmas has more in common with paganism than religion, so it may seem that this holiday should be addressed more tho atheists than theists.
So how should atheists celebrate Christmas?
The same way as everyone else does. Christmas is no longer solely for the religious, but for everyone that accepts the stereotypes and fictional characters, and most important the idea behind this holiday. So atheists everywhere, profit from this day to show your appreciation to the people that matter the most to you!