Atheists Bring You The Saddest ‘Celebration’ Sign You’ll See This Season

By Tom Gilson Published on December 2, 2017

“Happy Winter Solstice!” the sign says. And why not? We’ve got a lot to celebrate in December, and the return of longer days is one of them (here in the northern hemisphere, anyway). I don’t mind admitting I’m happy for the solstice. Aren’t you?

But the Freedom from Religion Foundation wants to make it more than that. Their banner at Christkindlmarket in Chicago’s Daley Plaza reads:

Happy Winter Solstice!

From the Freedom from Religion Foundation …

At this season of the Winter Solstice we celebrate the Birth of the Unconquered Sun — the TRUE reason for the season. As Americans, let us also honor the birth of our Bill of Rights, which reminds us there can be no freedom OF religion, without having freedom FROM religion in government.

Happy Winter Solstice Sign FFRF Holidays Chicago - 900

The TRUE reason? No.

Jesus Is the True Reason

Skeptics love to tell us Christmas is a sham Christian holiday. They point out that no one knows when Jesus was born, but people have been celebrating the solstice forever. Pagans put lights on trees and decorated them for their festivals. Christians grabbed all that. They might have called it Christmas, but it’s really just a pagan holiday with baby Jesus trappings.

If there’s a problem there, I don’t know what it is. Yes, pagans used festive trees for their celebrations. So can we. The principle is spelled out in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8: Just because non-Christians use something for idolatrous purposes, that doesn’t mean Christians can’t use the same thing for good purposes.

Now, if you really believe Christmas trees are pagan, you’d better not put one up in your house. If you just think Christmas trees are pretty, fun and festive, though, then you’re safe treating their pagan past as irrelevant.

Maybe the “Birth of the Unconquered Sun” really was the “TRUE reason for the season” centuries ago. So what? That doesn’t make it my reason. Or anyone else’s.

As for the date of Jesus’ birth, the idea that December was picked for pagan reasons has a lot going against it. But I don’t care that much, myself. Maybe Christians re-purposed an existing celebration to mark Jesus’ birthday. Maybe the “Birth of the Unconquered Sun” really was the “TRUE reason for the season” centuries ago.

So what? That doesn’t make it my reason. Or anyone else’s, now or for the past couple of centuries at least, now that it’s been so thoroughly imbued with Christian meaning.

And look at the pagan turn these FFRF people have taken here themselves! What else could you call this business of the “Birth of the Unconquered Sun”? Of course they can’t really mean it. They must be saying it tongue-in-cheek. Fine. I don’t mind celebrating the return of longer days, and I can chuckle along with them over whatever paganism may be looming in the background.

Politics Isn’t the True Reason

But then (sigh) they had to go and ruin it.

They could have offered a festive — though somewhat ironic — holiday greeting from a pluralistic perspective. What they gave Chicago instead was a thinly disguised “humbug” with a cranky political point.

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I could get annoyed over grumpy partisanship of that sort. Instead I’m sad for them. For one thing, they’re missing out on the one-half of the reason for the season that isn’t controversial: fun, festivity and celebration. They touched down lightly on the celebration theme, but with a statement they obviously don’t believe. From there it only took another moment for them to harrumph their way over to poking passersby with politics.

It’s Their Sad “Celebration,” Not Ours

Where’s the fun in that? Do they even believe in fun? Every time I hear from this FFRF group, it comes across as dour, contrary, and quite often bullying. That alone is enough to make this the saddest “celebration” sign I’ve seen in a long time.

They can have their cranky Christmas. They can even accuse me of having a pagan Christmas. I’m planning to have a Christ-honoring merry Christmas instead.

And of course they’re missing out on the better half of the reason for the season: the love of God, delivered straight to our doorstep through the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Instead they’ve posted a sign to do battle with all that.

They’re probably looking for us to fight back. I’m going to grieve instead. And then move on just as quickly as I can, to get to the real celebration.

They can have their cranky Christmas. They can accuse me of having a pagan Christmas. I’m planning to have a Christ-honoring merry Christmas instead. 

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