Atheist Religious Holiday

Atheist Religious Holiday

Question: Is it appropriate that statutory holidays like Easter and Christmas celebrate events in the Christian calendar?

KEVIN SMITH is on the board of directors for the centre for Inquiry, Canada’s premier venue for humanists, skeptics and freethinkers.

One hundred years ago, long before I banished pork from my fork, one of my favourite moments of Easter was inhaling that sugary aroma of ham crackling in the oven. The house permeated with not just that scent, but with anticipation of a family gathering, and the arrival of spring.

As pathetic holiday Christians, we would utter a hasty grace seconds before my ravenous clan attacked the pineapple-topped beast.

Christmas brought similar warm memories of family feasts, although a different animal sat on the table and a foretaste of those darkest and coldest months awaiting us danced in our heads. I love holidays. If it were up to me, I’d have one for every religious celebration; damn the inevitable economic collapse that would rival Greece’s!

At the very least, let’s keep Easter and Christmas as stat days. An atheist demanding a Christian festival? Of course! I could argue with the long-in-the-tooth excuse that Canada is a Christian country where God is mentioned in the preamble to our Charter of Rights. But this pales compared to the most important reason — we working stiffs need a break from the daily grind.

Christmas and Easter are rooted in Pagan celebrations of the winter solstice and spring equinox. These holidays were marked by gatherings, feasting and imbibing copious volumes of mead. Many ancient religions marked these axial tilts in similar fashion, incorporating stories of birth, death and resurrection. Early Christians simply carried on the tradition. Myths and merriment can be a perfect combo for dealing with the anguish of our human condition.

So Happy Easter to those who celebrate it in the biblical sense. I’ll be indulging in a gastronomic adventure with family. My only cross to bear will be devouring one chocolate egg too many.

Religious Opinion

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