Agnostic /aɡˈnästik/ (noun): one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god (from Merriam-Webster.com).
I’m agnostic. And yes, I celebrate Christmas.
I was baptized in the Catholic Church, made my first Holy Communion, and attended Sunday school until I was about eleven. I was taught the Ten Commandments, bible passages, and the like. But it wasn’t shoved down my throat and I never lived in fear of any god or God. My family, as a whole, generally only attended church for holidays, wedding, or funerals, and even that slowly tapered off over the years.
In my teens and early twenties, I became rather spiritual, but over the last decade or so, even that has fallen by the wayside. It wasn’t really a choice, just more of a realization that the older I get, I actually understand less and less about religion and the world instead of more. So for the last few years, I’ve considered myself agnostic. And holy shit, the string of questions and accusations that comes with that, especially at Christmas time.
IMHO (In My Humble Opinion)
I’ve been accused of taking advantage of Christmas – using it for presents and trees and other fun stuff, without the “sacrifice” of being a true believer. Dramatic, much?
I know that as far as Christianity is concerned, Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, the savior. I know the stories about him being born of a virgin in a manger and the wise men following a star and all that. I don’t know if it’s true. I don’t know if it’s false either. I really don’t have time to speculate or live my life based on either opinion.
I think Jesus probably existed. Modern science suggests that he was probably born in the spring, though. This apparently enrages and offends many devout believers, but I don’t see why.
As far as Jesus being a savior, I’m still struggling to understand how that was supposed to work – but that’s a whole other post that I don’t have time or patience to write or debate. Maybe he was. Maybe he wasn’t. Arguing about it isn’t going to change anything for either side. If you believe it, great. If not, great too! And here is where my agnosticism is frowned upon – “How can you celebrate Christmas if you don’t believe in God/Jesus/him being a savior/being born on December 25th?”
My Agnostic Christmas
Well, I’ll tell you. As previously stated, it’s not that I don’t believe. I have ideas, not beliefs. Like Chris Rock said in 1999’s Dogma, “I think it’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier. Life should be malleable and progressive, working from idea to idea permits that. Beliefs anchor you to certain points and limit growth. New ideas can’t generate. Life becomes stagnant.”
I, like millions of other people, grew up celebrating Christmas with a tree, gifts, a manger scene, an occasional church appearance, religion and non-religious carols, etc. It was a time for family and friends to get together, eat rich food, catch up on what’s been going on in their lives, and exchange gifts to show their love and appreciation. Even if you’re not a strict believer and don’t align yourself with any particular religion, how can gathering together to show love be wrong?
I do also happen to believe that the holiday season is about hope and forgiveness and love all that happy stuff. Logistically, it’s the end of a calendar year. It’s a great time to reflect on the last twelve months. If those months were positive, it’s an opportune time to be thankful and feel accomplished. If those months were negative, it’s a great time to look to the future with hope for new beginnings.
When I started writing this post, I thought it would be a lot longer, a bit more complicated, and more philosophical. I thought that it might be controversial and more eloquent and involve a lot more research. But that was because when I started writing, I thought that explaining the fact that I celebrate Christmas as an agnostic person would be difficult. But it turns out, it’s really quite simple. This year, like every Christmas, I’ll hope for peace, donate to a cause, sing carols, and enjoy the day off work. I’ll admire my (real) Christmas tree, exchange presents with loved ones, eat too much food, and (hopefully) watch it snow.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays to E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E, regardless of your skin color, country of origin, faith (or lack thereof).
Peace on earth, goodwill towards (wo)men