Secular Normalization – Holiday Edition

‘Tis the season to be secular. Fa la la la la la la la la!

That may sound counterproductive to the idea of a

religious holiday. But, upon further reflection, it makes a

lot of sense since it really is the secular component of

Christmas which elicits more excitement. As a secular

humanist, I am biased, and I feel it is ethically responsible

to admit as much. So I have to ask: who recalls going to

Midnight Mass or a Christmas Eve sermon when they

were 10 years old? Opening presents and watching

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or Charlie Brown

Christmas were the more memorable parts of Christmas


Holiday memories often center around going to a

relatives’ house and gathering together with everyone else

to open presents, talk to people you rarely see, and enjoy

some wonderful food. Aside from the prayer said over

the meal, it is pretty much a secular gathering. These are

the memories created which last a lifetime and it has

nothing to do with Jesus who is, as I heard all my life, the

reason for the season. As a secular humanist who grew

up in a Christian household, I genuinely still love

Christmas to this day. I honestly do celebrate the holiday

in the way most religious people do minus the Jesus

portions. When talking to newly secular people or folks

unfamiliar with secular humanism, they are often taken

aback by how conventionally I celebrate the holiday. I

will put up a Santa rather than a Krampus. My house just

doesn’t have a Nativity scene.

In secular circles, the celebration of Christmas is

often a divisive topic and that certainly is understandable.

I do not begrudge anyone who is unenthusiastic about the

holiday. It certainly can be a depressing time of year for

many people and their feelings should never be

discounted. The rampant commercialism of the holiday

can also be overwhelming. I feel all of that should be

acknowledged and validated. Personally, I enjoy the

holiday and know many other secular people who do and

I really hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and

whether they celebrate it or not is up to them. No one

should be forced to conform in either direction. For those

who do celebrate it, I hope they certainly have a

wonderful and healthy holiday season. JA