Nonreligious students find joy in the Christmas season
Despite some misconceptions about nonreligious students ignoring the Christmas holiday, some find this day to be significant in its ideals of family and Christmas cheer.
“I still think it’s a great time for family and being close to the ones you love,” said Aric Yarberry, architecture junior.
Although he is agnostic, Yarberry’s entire family is Christian and celebrates Christmas, he said. He said he eats and exchanges gifts with his entire family Christmas day.
“I would enjoy Christmas for the sentimental value,” Yarberry said. “My family has celebrated it every year since I was born.”
Yarberry said he enjoys the secular Christmas more than the religious one.
“One of my arguments for justifying my celebration of Christmas is that it isn’t just the celebration of Christ because it’s the celebration of the winter solstice, and other pagan religions have celebrated it before Christ,” Yarberry said.
He said he thinks giving gifts and spreading Christmas cheer is sometimes better than going to church.
“It doesn’t necessarily have to be about ‘keeping Christ in Christmas,’” Yarberry said. “I think it’s something that transcends all of that.”
Yarberry said he thinks the winter holidays are equally valid, but he said he chooses to say ‘Merry Christmas’ despite the ‘happy holidays’ phrasing now being incorporated into the season.
“Sometimes I go to the Christmas church service,” Yarberry said. “I don’t have any objections to beautiful Christmas decorations.
“I just have a problem believing that one religion is the only religion.”
Peter Schiller, architecture junior, said his family doesn’t celebrate Christmas anymore.
“We celebrated it when I was younger, not with any religious aspect, but more of the secular aspect,” Schiller said. “If there are presents to be exchanged, it usually happens on December 25.”
Schiller said a lot of Christmas traditions, like Christmas trees, come from pagan origins but said he enjoys the holiday.
“I really like the holiday,” Schiller said. “I’m not religious at all, but I feel like I like Christmas like most people like Christmas, even the religious ones, for things like Christmas music, food and family.”
Ryan Welch, University College freshman, said he would consider himself agnostic.
“Saying that you know there is no god would be adopting the same arrogant certitude that religion consists of when they claim they know what happens when you die,” Welch said.
“There is no way of knowing. I don’t have a way of knowing that there is no god, so I can’t say that I’m sure.”
Welch, like Yarberry, said his family celebrates Christmas but he doesn’t celebrate the “Christian” Christmas.
“Being an atheist during Christmas time is really complicated right now in America,” Welch said. “Some atheists think that we should not celebrate it, some do, but it should be a more secularized version.”
Welch said Christmas has become more secular over time and he said he sees a lot of people who are upset about it.
“Personally, I feel that it’s fine to celebrate the holidays,” he said.