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(RNS) In addition to Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, secular humanists have added a new celebration to the crowded calendar. HumanLight, observed on Dec. 23, is a secular celebration of human potential that is growing in acceptance. By Kimberly Winston.


  1. I have nothing against HumanLight or any other alternaive holidays: the more holidays the better. But I just don’t see why humanists can’t just enjoy the myths and celebrations of Christmas without taking them seriously. This is our collective, cultural mythology: believe it all, believe some of it, believe none of it. Who cares? Religion is fun! You don’t have to believe it to enjoy it. Whatever is the problem?

    • Very well said.

      Whatever is the problem? is correctly said also.

      Why should anyone mock the “religious fun” that many enjoy and are grateful for just because that fun and enjoyment is not appreciated by some.

      Tolerance is a two way street.

      “Do unto others…” applies to all……doesn’t it?

    • H.E. Baber:
      there are several issues/problems with what you suggest: that humansts should enjoy and celebrate Christmas myths but not take them seriously.

      First of all, doing that creates confusion about who humanists are and what they believe. This is especially problematic for families with children — it sends troubling mixed messages to kids, who may be left wondering, just what are we doing, and what do we believe?

      Second, this approach is offensive and disrespectful to Christians who believe in christmas. To them, Christmas is not a bunch of funny myths. So you run the serious risk of being seen as attacking and criticizing a lot of people’s religious beliefs. That is certainly not going to help secular, humanist people become more accepted in general society.

      Third, if you take the “let’s enjoy christmas without believing in it” approach, then you are Not really celebrating anything of real meaning. It becomes an essentially meaningless endeavor. Why are your celebrating? what is the purpose? That’s why HumanLight is such a valuable alternative holiday. It imbues your celebrations with an authentic meaning, that relates to your real values, beliefs and hopes.

      • I appreciate this response, because I am to a fair extent, puzzled–not just asking a rhetorical question. So here’s my take in response to your questions.

        (1) I dunno–I have kids and when they were young I didn’t see any reason to make a point of distinguishing between fairy tales, Greek mythology, plots of novels or Bible stories. They figure it out eventually. Maybe I’m missing something but I don’t see why this is an issue. I was never interested in indoctrinating them–just exposing them to all the richness of our culture.

        (2) I am a Christian and don’t find this approach in any way offensive. The Christmas story IS largely a bunch of funny myths. Jesus wasn’t born in Bethlehem, there were no shepherds or angels, he wasn’t laid in a manger, etc. Most educated Christians know this and don’t care.

        (3) I don’t understand the stuff about “meaning.” Rituals and stories are fun–any excuse for a celebration is fun. “values” “beliefs” “hopes”–who cares! Street festivals and farmers markets are fun. Opera is fun. Ceremonies and rituals are fun. I guess I’m just not that serious–just interested in eating, drinking, playing and entertainment. That’s Christmas. And, to a great extent, that’s religion–fun rituals and stories that you can take any way you please and enjoy.

        • H. E. Baber:

          I think the problem is that not all Christians have the same relaxed, open attitude to Christmas as you do, hence the silly “War On Christmas”. Furthermore, many Christians take the Bible stories a lot more seriously than you seem to do. A lot of them think that all of these stories are literally true, let alone metaphorical, mythical, or even “fun”.

  2. Enjoy whichever holiday you want, as many as you want, in any way you choose, and let everyone else do the same.
    As they celebrate their chosen holiday In the privacy of their homes, churches, centers, rented halls, etc, don’t ask them why they can’t do this, or can’t do that, or can’t do it the same way you do, or why do they want to or need to do this or that.

  3. Why the additional holiday, humanists? You already have Festivus!
    Anyway, Merry Christmas to all God’s children (even those who don’t realize that’s who they are…)

    • Johnny — Festivus is not a real holiday, and is not by or for humanists. Festivus is just a joke from an old TV show. it has no positive meaning or message, and no positive human values (in fact it’s quite negative). So , there is no comparison with HumanLight.

  1. […] One might think that by setting up a late December holiday only days before Christmas, the risk of “being confused with god-worshipping people” is present from the get-go. But if that wasn’t enough, many HumanLight celebrations appear to be modeled after traditional Christmas celebrations. Instead of advent candles, HumanLight has a candle-lighting ceremony with candles representing Truth, Reason, and Compassion.  The HumanLight website sells ornaments for a “holiday tree” and “holiday cards.” Instead of Christmas carols, practitioners sing HumanLight hymns, some of which are apparently just reworked Christmas song. Take this tune, overheard by an RNS reporter last December: […]