The Echo

Christmas holds meaning beyond religion

Holiday season celebrated in secular manner

Jayne Stevenson

I celebrate Christmas, but I am not religious. For me, the meaning of the holiday does not involve faith.

I have celebrated Christmas all of my life. For years, I hadn’t formed my own religious beliefs, so I often thought I celebrated Christmas as a Christian. Although I used to go to church, neither of my parents are religious to the point where our lifestyle or holidays involve religion. For most of my childhood, I sang songs in church on Christmas Eve and recited whatever prayer was printed in front of me because those were common Christmas traditions. It wasn’t until later in my life that I realized I’m not even religious at all.

Although I’m technically a member of a church, I don’t identify as Christian. Yet, Christmas is still a holiday I always look forward to. I still go to a church service on Christmas Eve to continue a lifelong tradition, but my family understands that I won’t sing or pray during the service. I still enjoy decorating my tree, listening to Christmas music and other holiday festivities.

Luckily for me, not being a Christian never caused tension within my family. I used to grow up thinking I was a Christian because that’s the religion I was born into. I have never been seriously religious, but it took my own considerations and questions throughout my childhood to realize I wasn’t. It’s important for people to explore their religion and family traditions to develop their personal beliefs without external influences. If people aren’t able to form beliefs on their own, it’s easy to follow pressures from family members or believe what feels familiar without other contemplations.

Even though I’m not religious, Christmas is still my favorite holiday of the year. Through years of wearing matching Christmas pajamas with my sister and looking for Santa Claus outside the window, Christmas gained a new meaning in my life. I view Christmas as a holiday to look forward to and spend happily with family and friends. I have learned to value the holiday season as a time to be joyful, appreciative and giving. It’s a time to celebrate, for religious or nonreligious purposes. Christmas means continuing long-lasting traditions with my family and enjoying the presence of important people in my life. The holiday gives me something to look forward to and plan for every year.

Sometimes I consider whether or not it’s harmful that I celebrate a holiday in a way different than its traditional meaning. However, it’s valuable for people to find the importance of Christmas for themselves, as long as everyone’s beliefs are still respected. I’m very open with my beliefs and don’t hide what I think from my family. I’m grateful to feel safe and accepted for my thoughts. I will continue to celebrate Christmas for the traditions it brings to my life are what make the holiday season joyful.

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Christmas holds meaning beyond religion