Christmas, by definition, is the celebration of the birth of Christ. of course we don't know the actual date of of his birth; but it's the day that we celebrate that event. I know that lots of other thing unrelated to his birth are associated with it, but ultimately it is a distinctly religious holiday.
I'm not saying who should and who should not celebrate any holiday any way they wish to; I'm merely observing that a lot of people pretending that it is not a Christian holiday they are celebrating is disingenuous. Sure, celebrate the fun of the season, and exchanging gifts, and all the goodies; but don't pretend it is any less a Christian holiday than any other religions' holy days.
What next? Is Easter not a religious holiday anymore either? Anyway, I'm not trying to argue with anyone. Just tossing my observations out there as fodder for thought.
Merry Christmas to all!
People aren't pretending it's not a Christian holiday. they are just continuing the winter celebration traditions that their ancestors a couple millennium ago celebrated. One honors family and society when one carries on the traditions.
Plus, just because the Christians took over non-christian traditions and declared those traditions to in celebration of Christ's birth that doesn't mean the non-Christians had to stop celebrating those traditions. Practically, many non-christians did stop publicly declaring and celebrating their pagan and other religious beliefs in order to stop being persecuted. But in terms of etiquette, it would have been fine for the non-christians to continue to have trees, wreaths, etc.
I disagree with your prior statement that said ..."Yet you never hear of atheists choosing to celebrate Chanukah or Ramadan or other non-Christian celebrations in a secular way. It just strikes me as odd and sort of a double standard." Athesits celebrate those too, it just doesn't get the media attention.
I grew up going to the Jewish neighbors' for Chanukah celebrations, etc. and they came to our house for Christmas celebrations. My mother was Catholic, but often bought Jewish food during those holidays. there was always a both matzos and jelly beans in the pantry each spring.
When I was in Egypt during Ramadan, many non-Muslim tourists would not eat dinner in a restaurant until after sundown. It just felt rude to start eating while all the other diners were not.
Similar in Japan, many tourists went to shrines and temples for Buddhist and Shinto celebrations and said prayers and purchased talismans. just like many tourists at the Vatican purchase talismans of a patron Saint (e.g. of good health, lost causes, etc). the Vatican doesn't ask the buyers to confirm their religion.
Personally, I just plain enjoy diversity. I'm hopin' Holi becomes popular around here! Looks like fun!