Secular Sunday – The Joy of Celebrating A Godless Christmas

At my library branch, we’ve had lots of interesting conversations around the “Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas” dichotomy that always happens at this time of year in western society.

We talked about how to balance the library’s responsibility to be inclusive and respectful of all faiths, cultures and beliefs but also how Christmas is the holiday most people in Canada celebrate and shouldn’t be sidelined or ignored either.

These discussions happened in a variety of ways…

We did a project to promote our children’s collection by encouraging patrons to create a “Christmas Advent Book Calendar” with instructions, a box and an extended due date provided by us.  We also talked about whether we should even call it that or something more generic like “Seasonal Holiday Book Celebration”  (I’m happy to report the original name was the one we used.)

We talked about how it is difficult to strike a balance, even if you want to, when the majority of seasonal books the library purchases have Christmas themes, the majority of decorations we have to put up have a Christmas theme and every branch has been provided with a Christmas tree to put up during the month of December.  (Don’t even get me started on the near fist fight that happened long ago at one branch when someone tried to take down the tree before Ukrainian Christmas was over either!) 😉

One staff member had a great idea to create a display integrating a calendar with informational blurbs about different seasonal celebrations from the obvious ones like Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa to others including everything from International Human Rights Day to Festivus.

I even had a colleague who knows I’m an atheist ask if my family celebrated Christmas.

I replied that of course we do – it’s just that for our family, we celebrate Christmas as a major secular holiday where we focus on certain elements instead of others.

We might not go to a carol service but we enjoy listening to Christmas music (including popular carols!)  We put up decorations but with an emphasis on Santa, Rudolph and Frosty rather than Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  We don’t go to a Christmas Eve church service but may play a board game or watch a Christmas movie while tracking Santa on NORAD’s web site.

But like everyone – believer or no – who celebrates Christmas, we enjoy gift giving, spending time with family, cooking & eating special meals, sharing sentimental memories of Christmas growing up and so on.

This article does a good job of explaining the secular take on Christmas.

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