Seems this time of year brings out the folks who are curious how us atheists deal with life during a time period that is supposedly saturated with religious references. It’s assumed, for example, that we don’t celebrate Christmas and find all the holiday tunes that fly around at this time of year to be grating at best. While I have met a few atheists in my time that seem to take that approach, the total numbers are smaller than you might think.
Over at The Raving Atheist is an entry about his thoughts on holiday music and why Christmas is so popular even among us non-believers. He pretty much says everything I would say about it.
As of last week, no less that eight New York area radio stations were playing Christmas music around the clock, reports Newsdays Ellis Henican. One of them, WNEW-FM, has been doing so since November 13 – – more than two full weeks before Thanksgiving. ғCertainly, Henican concludes, ԓthe atheists arent charmed.Ҕ
Hes certainly wrong about this atheist.
One cannot escape from a childhood of New York Christmases without developing an irreversible addiction to holiday music. Even the crappiest 70Ғs Santa-Kills-Granny gag-song is enough to trigger a tearful wave of nostalgia. The association between the music and the sight of snow, Christmas lights, and colorfully-wrapped presents is impossible to shake, even after youve concluded that we might have been better off had The Little Drummer Boy had impaled the Jesus-baby with one of his sticks.
A whole week off school to play with toys and go sledding? Forget Pavlov and his dogs. Try The Raving Atheist and ғHolly Jolly Christmas.
No doubt. The entry continues on to talk about how he’s been tuned into the station playing Christmas carols since they started doing it and could only be happier if they had started sooner. I’ve been known to break out my Christmas CDs when traveling alone in my car at the first hint of colder weather in September. By the the time Christmas actually gets here I can be pretty insufferable in my geekiness. Here in the Detroit area I discovered that WNIC started playing Christmas songs sometime before Thanksgiving and it’s the only radio station outside of NPR I’ve bothered to tune in for literally months because of it.
TRA goes on to point out that the lack of multiculturalism to be found during the holiday season decried by the Newsday writer is due largely in part to the lack of a market around the other holidays that are supposedly associated with this time of year. Too true.
But what about those darn pesky religious songs such as Silent Night and Do You Hear What I Hear? For the most part they don’t bother me and in many cases, Silent Night in particular, I find them to be quite wonderful songs that I will happily sing along to regardless of any religious significance. I’ve always associated Silent Night with images of sleepy snow-covered villages at night full of slumbering kids waiting for Santa to come swooping in.
Whatever the intent of the songs happen to be, my personal associations for them are many happy childhood memories of Christmas trees and eggnog and wondering what was in all the presents under the tree and seeing relatives and friends we hadn’t seen in awhile. Anything that stirs those happy memories is a good thing be it the smell of sugar cookies baking in the oven to O’ Come All Ye Faithful sung by Bing Crosby on the radio.