The Secularization of Christmas

As capitalism has largely transformed the celebration of Christmas, should all people, regardless of religion, be able to take part in the holiday season?

via Creative Commons

Rockefeller Center’s Annual Christmas Decorations

     There is no doubt that Christmas is an incredibly important holiday in regards to the religion of Christianity. The miraculous story of Jesus’s birth is an extremely significant event in the eyes of the Christian people. Except for Easter, it is arguably the holiest time of the year for Christians. 

     This does not change the fact that many people that celebrate Christmas are atheists, or only attend church around the holiday. 81% of non-Christian Americans celebrate Christmas which tells us something else about this widespread holiday. 

     Odds are, when the majority of people think of Christmas, people do not think of going to church. Even Christian people, such as myself, will think of opening presents or decorating the tree. And while decorating a tree does have a Biblical meaning, many do not know this. 

      It is of my opinion that for these reasons, non-Christians should be able to celebrate Christmas. Using the example of decorating the tree as a template for my argument: it started as a tradition rooted in religion, but now the connotation is no longer religious. The same rule goes for how the holiday is celebrated in the present day. 

     While going to church is undeniably a religious act, that is the only truly religious part of the holiday for most Christians. It is quite easy to celebrate Christmas without that aspect. 

     It is somehow acceptable for atheists, or Christians who do not practice the religion to celebrate the holiday, but not other religions from celebrating. People of other religions would not go to church if they celebrated the holiday, but many Christians or atheists do not either. A multitude of people are already celebrating Christmas devoid of the religious aspect, so people of other religions should be able to as well. 

     There should no stigma in a Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, or someone of any other religion engaging in activities such as decorating a tree, opening gifts, and sharing a meal with their family. While many actively religious Christians may disagree, the fact of the matter is that many people who celebrate Christmas do not celebrate the holiday religiously at all.

     The holiday evolved from being a day rooted entirely in religion to be about presents, Christmas morning, and decorating a tree. This transition has been driven by the evolution of capitalism.

      This evolution is neither a good nor a bad thing, but it is why people should be able to choose to what extent they want to include religion in their celebration of the holiday. They can go to church or not go to church if they are Christian, or celebrate in any manner of their choosing. 

     It does not seem just to keep traditions that do not have religious connotations to many from non-Christians because they can celebrate the commercialized, capitalist aspects of the holiday as opposed to going to church. 

     The holidays should be a time for people of all backgrounds to come together, and there should be no shadow on a person’s happiness from being left out of the primary non-religious aspects of the holiday.