In addition to Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, secular humanists have added a new celebration to the crowded calendar. HumanLight, observed on or about Dec. 23, is a secular celebration of human potential that is growing in acceptance. [...]
“The December holiday period is always a discussion for those of us who are nontheistic,” Colucci said. “What are we going to do if our families want us to go to church? Should we celebrate Christmas even though we don’t want to? The question came up: How come there is no holiday for the nonreligious?”
I honestly don’t see why people wouldn’t want to celebrate Christmas, considering the degree of secularism that’s been incorporated into the holiday in this day and age. Whether you are religious or not, we as a society get some time off and are given a chance to get together with friends and family to exchange gifts and eat an unreasonable amount of food. These aspects of the holiday obviously predate Christianity and go back to Roman Saturnalia, but I don’t see anyone objecting to those traditions because we no longer believe in the old Roman gods that were at the root of it all.
After the first HumanLight observance in 2001, other humanist groups adopted it, too. There are no set practices, so many groups have developed their own. Today, HumanLight celebrations include science book exchanges, charity auctions, musical performances, and magicians and clowns for children. There are even HumanLight cards, ornaments and “carols.”
I don’t know … maybe I’m cynical but I think this whole idea is kind of silly. If we don’t want anything to do with Christmas, then so be it; don’t do anything. The problem is that what is being proposed as a replacement for non-believers consists of very ideals and values behind our modern interpretation of Christmas: peace, good will, generosity, charity, and compassion. True, it doesn’t have the supernatural aspect, but my solution to that problem is to just not go to church.
If we really wanted to put a stake in the ground and create a secular “holiday” (ignoring the irony of the word usage), we should focus on doing something in the middle of nowhere, calendar-wise. How about the beginning of March? Or August? That whole month’s open. More importantly, if there is to be some sort of celebration, let it be something so universal and unoffensive that people from all walks of life can feel free to enjoy without having their religious sensibilities threatened by talk of “embracing reason”. Not that I don’t agree … I don’t have much in common with believers on the philosophical front, but we’re at a stage of development where positive public perception is more important than anything else. Let the new holiday succeed or fail on its own merits. If it succeeds, and does so because of its ability to capitalize on shared values, then there can be a discussion of what makes us different and how people like non-believers are much less of a threat than we’re made out to be.