Tag Archives: Christmas

Santa and the International Space Station Fly By

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Christmas is a wonderful time of year. It’s commercialisation has opened the festival to everyone as Sunny Hundal explains:

Christmas is perhaps the most widely celebrated festival in the world, even with non-Christians, because a bunch of commercialised non-religious rituals have sprung up around it.

Santa and his flying reindeer are part of the magic, as presents appear over night under the tree and in stockings.

Yet that tradition of Santa being the one delivering the presents is dying out according to a Pew poll.

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From 72% to 31% telling children that Santa comes round with the presents Christmas Eve/Day. Massive change in how the celebration of Christmas is told.

Which is where the International Space Station, which will be visible in the UK at 5:22PM (weather permitting) comes in:

Festive flyover by the International Space Station could look a lot like Father Christmas and his sleigh, the Met Office suggests

It may be the perfect opportunity to show the little ones Santa on his way: a bright light zooming across the sky, just after nightfall on Christmas Eve. [Daily Telegraph]

It rather seems the perfect opportunity to fire little ones with the wonder of science. What they can see is a space port which over 200 people have visited. It’s weight is equivalent to 5,000 of me.

Not only that, but it is an orbital laboratory conducting a range of experiments and examining the universe. Even up there orbiting the earth an astronaut can tweet this photo.

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In the night sky you see what humanity can do. Coming together we can reach for the stars.

That really is worth celebrating.

Merry Christmas!

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Merry Christmas Herodotus Style

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If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it.

~ Herodotus

Merry Christmas All!

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Merry Christmas! But I’m Dreaming Of A Solstice For All

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Let me quickly tell you my dream – a “Christmas” for all that is not sectarian, nor dogmatic but life celebrating and all encompassing. Some Christians will say you need the Christ in Christmas. Some atheists may deride this as religion without the supernatural, and with two thirds of humanity not being Christian, many may be concerned I am choosing one particular religious festival to writ large for all. Especially given majority of people do not celebrate December with Christ’s birth in mind.

Yet this dream may be embraced by all as a universal festival for a shared human spirit. Like all dreamers I am not the only one. Perhaps an interfaith approach of celebrating a religious festival as it is, with all the trimmings and inclusive, may work for those that do faith and feel comfortable celebrating another faith. However, I am calling for something that is not religious – though it may borrow (or reclaim) from them – but an observance of the season, marking time, and celebrating life with each other. Something for everyone.

Which makes the Winter Solstice and Christmas the platform to build on.

Not Biblical But Pagan

Christmas was seen by puritans as celebrating a non commemorated event by the apostles, in the style of a modern day pagan Roman worshipping Saturn in December, where his festival:

“Saturnalia was famous for copious feasting, excessive boozing, light-hearted pranks, big gatherings of family and friends, and the exchange of gifts.” [Greg Jenner – read more on his history of Christmas here]

The merrymaking in December is one that transcends the Christian calendar. Even today some Christian sects (like Jehovah’s Witnesses) prohibit followers celebrating Christmas because of the God Saturn.

As coincidence would have it, the Solstice falls on Saturn’s day of the week – Saturday 21 December.

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Commercial intoxication

Most activity this month involves the ringing of tills over bells of joy. Wringing purses to celebrate the presence together of humanity in a crowded mall purchasing the latest must have presents. Later gathering for an orgy of food to gorge and getting the booze in, training in preparation for the following week to vomit out the old year seeing in a new one through blood shot eyes.

So while some American Christians get narked at bill boards with atheists saying you don’t need Christ for Christmas, there is perhaps another way of seeing the Solstice that might include everyone of goodwill. With more to it then getting plastered and deeper in debt, but less to do with a divine baby being born to be crucified as the greatest human sacrifice of all time.

Narrative Beyond Nativity

Humanism is finding a universal idea which recognises cultural festivities as stressing the human needs and wants which all can relate to. Invoking a good life while having a good time.

Religion and traditions get this by invigorating us with celebratory festivals. The traditional over the theological for popular customs enhances the cultural aspect – for example it was St Francis of Assisi who popularised the barn animals at the birth of Jesus. Not biblically accurate, but an excuse to have a child dressed as the back end of a cow at the local school nativity play. A community sharing a common experience that is timeless through generations via a common narrative of storytelling that stretches back towards antiquity.

The Solstice is experienced by all, those noon time shadows are the longest with the low arc of the Sun in the Northern Hemisphere, as the shortest day approaches on Saturday December 21 2013. The marking of it goes even further in human history.

Gifts of Kindness

 

Buying a well thought out gift to someone shows you have been paying attention to them as a unique person. It makes the “better to give then to receive” adage come true. In the harshness of winter this is a time for family, friends, even strangers to come together as one. To celebrate life, as short cold day gives way to harsh long night, and renewal as after the Solstice the night begins to gradually fade.

The Romans during this festive time had slaves the equal with masters. This is the time to remember that whether as Children of Creation, or citizens, we are in equal need of the milk of human kindness. Striped bare we need the same fundamentals to survive. If anything is sacrilegious, people dying due to lack of food, water and shelter on this earth is. A baby born in this world should be celebrated as a messiah – wherever and whenever it takes place.

Using symbols of nature to brighten up the home as a reminder that life carries on, whether bearing fruit on the holly or with a kiss under the mistletoe in the hope that unrequited love just might be reciprocated to kindle a romance to warm cold winter nights.

My Dream

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This photo theme comes from publicising a Winter Solstice event at Liverpool Cathedral marking the world’s traditions across cultures and centuries.

Being festive is tackling the somber atmosphere of rain, wind and snow. We try to romanticise the bitter weather – a “White Christmas” becomes the perfect setting. Irving Berlin with that song, despite having lost a child on Christmas Day and not being a Christian himself, could get that. To commemorate not just the season, but life, hoping to do so with joy and kindness despite the highs and lows.

Such a festival is one I would like to invite all to celebrate together at this time of year. In a world where Ahmadi Muslims can be arrested for celebrating Islamic festivals in Pakistan, puritanical Christian sects ban Christmas inspired frivolity for followers or Christians seeing my suggestion as a secular war on Christmas, this might be a big ask.

Still I dream – celebrating life, hope of renew and kindness while making merry in December.

So however you were planning on celebrating December 25, have a Merry Christmas. But might I encourage you, and those that never celebrate Christmas Day, to consider this Saturday what happens on earth to all and how humanity has marked the passing of time.

So this Saturday 21 December when the Solstice takes place, see if you can live the dream I have outlined here too.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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A Real War on Christmas

Those that believe that atheists are fighting a successful “War on Christmas” with billboards, need to look back at history. In particular the long parliament and rule under The Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell in England.

The Long Parliament, in fact, met and worked as usual on 25 December 1643. In late 1644 it was noted that 25 December would fall on the last Wednesday of the month, the day of the regular monthly fast, and parliament stressed that 25 December was strictly to be kept as a time of fasting and humiliation, for remembering the sins of those who in the past had turned the day into a feast, sinfully and wrongfully ‘giving liberty to carnal and sensual delights’. Both Houses of Parliament attended intense fast sermons on 25 December 1644.

Source

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The war extended to “the abolition of the popish and often sinful celebration of Christmas, as well as of Easter, Whitsun and assorted other festivals and saints’ days.” The puritanical group also wanted to rename it Christ-tide. Sunday was to be the only holy day. The second Tuesday of the month would be a day off without statutory church attendance.

During the late 1640s attempts to prevent public celebrations and to force shops and businesses to stay open had led to violent confrontations between supporters and opponents of Christmas in many towns, including London, Canterbury, Bury St Edmunds and Norwich. Many writers continued to argue in print (usually anonymously) that it was proper to mark Christ’s birth on 25 December and that the secular government had no right to interfere, and it is likely that in practice many people in mid seventeenth century England and Wales continued to mark both the religious and the secular aspects of the Christmas holiday. At the Restoration not only the Directory of Public Worship but also all the other legislation of the period 1642-60 was declared null and void and swept away, and both the religious and the secular elements of the full Twelve Days of Christmas could once again be celebrated openly, in public and with renewed exuberance and wide popular support. The attack on Christmas had failed.

Ibid

So a devout puritanical religious group used the power of the secular government to wage war on Christmas. Let us be honest the war on Christmas by the American Atheists is like someone using a pea shooter in comparison. Mind you gets you to look – they just want you to think about it!

Looking forward to free people having a mass celebration in their own way.

Here endeth the lesson.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays!

Related blog: Survival Guide for Atheists at Christmas

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Celebrating Christmas Atheist Survival Guide

The New Humanist have created an atheist survival guide here thought I would create some tips of my own.

1. Tis the season of peace to men of good will – not all people.

You will not be considered clever or witty to those that find your lack of faith disturbing at this time of year when pointing out inconsistencies and myths. Instead be more subtle, and perhaps make a game of it. For example include film quotes when you can. That way you can have fun with mindless philosophers, if it goes over their heads. Have some like minded friends/relatives in on it if you can to join in the fun.

2. Richard Dawkins says “Merry Christmas”

So can you – even the Jehovah’s Witnesses say Thursday despite being named after Chris Hemsworth.

3. Make merry

Have conversations, and be true to yourself, just don’t go on about one thing and refuse to change the subject. Whatever you do just do not let anyone end one with you because “it was a boring conversation anyway”. Oscar Wilde would be disappointed.

4. We’re gonna have company

If you can, try and have a guest list that you control. If you are the host it is your responsibility to have guests that allow the party to go about its business and move along.

Whilst relatives may give the toxic mixture to these social festivities – you don’t have to play host. As a guest you can be in more control of your time.

5. Argh!

Have an escape route – have somewhere to go. Know where the spare room is, and grab a bottle. Get into the wi-fi early (say want to say hi to someone overseas – store the password on device) and enjoy. If it is that bad perhaps find a princess to join you flyboy.

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Follow up blog: A Real War On Christmas

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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