• Atheists Shouldn’t Give Christianity The Winter Season Monopoly

    humanlightYesterday, my family and I attended the local Human Light celebration outside of Philadelphia. We try to go every year when we can. It is always fun for the kids and makes me feel great that I am giving them a humanist holiday to celebrate in addition to a secular Christmas. But many atheists don’t approve of Human Light.

    Last year I wrote an article explaining and promoting Human Light. This morning, I posted it around the web and got a little pushback from my fellow freethinkers. One person commented that atheists don’t need a new festival. I completely agree that we don’t “need” a new festival. We don’t “need” to have any celebrations at all, but we shouldn’t be restricted from doing so just because the religious have celebrations too.

    Religious people breath oxygen, does that mean we shouldn’t do it because they do? Of course not. Likewise, I don’t think religious believers should have the monopoly of winter celebrations and I certainly don’t think we should just allow them to claim that monopoly unchallenged. Winter Season celebrations predate Christianity. It isn’t that we are taking their celebration; we are making a new celebration. We are celebrating human endeavors and human accomplishments. We are celebrating what people can do for the world and for each other.

    Another person commented that Human Light was a made-up holiday. Well shit, I thought all holidays were made-up. Why is it that only religious believers are allowed to make-up holidays? Why should atheists be restricted from creating a holiday to celebrate humanist values that many of us share? We aren’t demanding that all atheists must celebrate Human Light, but if you want to celebrate humanist values and have a fun party with others in the community, Human Light is a great way to do it.

    For me, it is great because it is an opportunity to celebrate reason and humanism with my young kids. My kids get to hang out with other kids of atheist/humanist families. Most of the other atheist community activities in other parts of the year are not usually kid friendly.

    While I don’t think every atheist should be forced or even shamed into celebrating Human Light if they don’t want to, I do think that more atheists and humanists should celebrate Human Light. I think if more of us did, we could make Human Light a competing holiday.

    1.7% of Americans identify as Jewish and yet every grocery store and big box store has a Hanukkah section and most county courthouses and statehouses have a menorah up next to the Jesus Crèche with little pushback. According to the Gallup International Poll from 2012, 5% of Americans identify as “convinced atheists.” That is more than double the number of Jews and yet we have nothing. Could you imagine if just half of all “convinced atheists” (not counting the 20% of nones), decided to celebrate Human Light? Stores would start devoting shelf space to the holiday during the winter season and people would start seeing Humanism as an alternative to religion. Religious believers would see that they can keep their celebrations without the need to keep their superstitions.

    Human Light provides something new to celebrate — something secular and without superstitions. It is more than just a secular Christmas; it is a celebration of humanist ideals. It shows religious believers that atheists don’t believe in nothing. We have secular values and many of us have humanist values and we want to celebrate those values.

    So I am passionate about Human Light and I think other atheists and humanists should be too. I don’t think it is for everyone, but it is good for the movement and it is great for the family. More importantly, it is a good reason to party and that alone should convince more people to celebrate Human Light.

    Here is the thing, we need stuff for Human Light. Margaret Downey had the awesome idea to have a Tree of Knowledge. Her tree features laminated book covers as ornaments. My thought is to mix the Tree of Knowledge with humanistic ornaments too. So it would have some laminated book covers, but would also have ornaments celebrating humanist values. For this, we can obviously re-purpose a small handful of Christmas Tree ornaments, but I think we should start creating our own ornaments too.

    Hanukkah has a menorah and maybe some industrious atheist could create a Human Light candle holder. We need creative people to start designing stuff of this holiday. Who knows, 100 years from now, this may be a standard holiday and the traditions we start today may be used as the traditions for tomorrow. Forturnately, atheists tend to be very creative people, so get to work!

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    Category: AtheismfeaturedHumanLightTree of Knowledge


    Article by: Staks Rosch

    Staks Rosch is a writer for the Skeptic Ink Network & Huffington Post, and is also a freelance writer for Publishers Weekly. Currently he serves as the head of the Philadelphia Coalition of Reason and is a stay-at-home dad.