The Christians Stole Christmas

by Annie Laurie Gaylor
22nd December 2011
via US News

Away with the manger—in with the Solstice!

For a fact, the Christians stole Christmas. We don’t mind sharing the season with them, but we don’t like their pretense that it is the birthday of Jesus. It is the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun—Dies Natalis Invicti Solis.

Christmas is a relic of sun worship.

For all of our major festivals, there were corresponding pagan festivals tied to natural events. We’ve been celebrating the Winter Solstice, this natural holiday, long before Christians crashed the party. For millennia, our ancestors in the Northern Hemisphere have greeted this seasonal event with festivals of light, gift exchanges, and seasonal gatherings.

The Winter Solstice is the reason for the season. The Winter Solstice, December 22 this year, heralds the symbolic rebirth of the Sun, the lengthening of days, and the natural New Year.

We nonbelievers are quite willing to celebrate the fun parts of anybody’s holidays. We just want to be spared the schmaltz, the superstition—and the state/church entanglements.

The customs of this time of year endure because they are pleasant customs. It’s fun to hear from distant family and friends, to gather, to feast, to sing. Gifts, as freethinker Robert Ingersoll once remarked, are evidences of friendship, of remembrance, of love.

The evergreens displayed now as in centuries past flourish when all else seems dead, and are symbols, as is the returning sun, of enduring life.

In celebrating the Winter Solstice, we celebrate reality.

Annie Laurie Gaylor is co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics).

21 Responses to The Christians Stole Christmas

  1. vinnie says:

    Us Aussies celebrate Summer Solstice and enjoy the true beauty of the sun.

  2. Jim Lee says:

    As I’m an ex-Christian now atheist who has done lots of my own research in Christian roots, I’m quite convinced that Christianity is one very deceitful religion. Any one these day who believes that a virgin was impregnated by a ghost, and gave birth to the Christian God Jesus a mere 2000 years ago is very gullible indeed.

    • Graeme says:

      ANYONE that believes in evolution is the most gullible of the lot.

      • Patrick says:

        Evolution is not accepted by belief, otherwise there would be numerous incompatable theories on life. This is why there are so many religions and gods when faith (beleive what you want). Evolution is based on overwhelming evidence, tested over 150 years by the best scientists in the world. If it did not work then like other scientifc theories it would be modified or replaced by a better scientifc theory. Religious people can never satisfactorily say why their religion is right and the others wrong. Very dishonest and unfair on children.

  3. Chris says:

    See, it’s this sort of article that gives atheists a bad name. They’re often just as closed-minded and rude as many religious people are.

    For a start – Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. As defined such, the statements that “Christians stole Christmas” and “Christmas is a relic of sun worship” are utterly illogical. While the reasons for choosing 25 December as the date to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ are unclear (and yes, there are several theories, none of which have been ‘proven’ by the way), the fact is, Christians don’t prevent anyone deciding not to share this celebration. Besides, this is a fixed date, and the solstice (winter or summer depending on which hemisphere you live in) is movable. So how can a fixed date “steal” a movable celebration?

    But just to prove that atheists and Christians can find some common ground, most Christians would probably agree with the statement that “we just want to be spared the schmaltz”…:)

    Please be courteous and respectful to all beliefs.

    • Davo says:

      Cyril of Jerusalem ordered Pope Julius I to assign the true date of the nativity “from census documents brought by Titus to Rome” and he chose December 25 in ~350CE. Christians didn’t celebrate it before then, it was also called the Feast of the Nativity, not christmas, which is first recorded in 1038. It remained a bone of contention amongst true believer orthodox Christians in the majority till the 1600′, when it hit England, and caused a ruckus. You even had people fight back against it’s introduction (look at the puritans and Oliver Cromwell which removed it as a celebration because it was heresy) and the pilgrims that escaped to the US never celebrated it for this reason as well.

      Most learned scholars contribute the setting of the date to trying to utilise the Roman festival of Saturnalia and the pagan festivities around that whole time, to popularise Christianity.

      If you read your bible, Jesus was born at the time of the coming of the lambs, which is anything but around the time of winter solstice, more like April to June.

      Jeremiah 10:1-10:
      This is what the LORD says: “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them. 3 For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. 4 They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.

      Christmas, just like THORSday, or APRIL, or MARch etc etc is a remenant of history, it is a time of celebration that christians may claim as their own, but has always been a time of secular celebrations. I don’t recognise it any more than Thor, and enjoy a glass of white wine in the sun.

      • Graeme says:

        The correct date for the birth of Jesus can be found in the Bible.dec25th is the accepted time but it is not supported by the Bible.The correct date in June using our calander.

        • Jim Lee says:

          There was no New Testament Jesus, born of a virgin impregnated by a ghost. This sort of scenario is impossible. If there was a “mortal” Jesus then he was never a Christian, the New Testament referred to him as a Rabbi, and besides Rabbis were married men.

  4. Ryan Arndt says:

    It is interesting to note that the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is on 8 December.
    This of itself means that:
    1. Mary was pregnant with Jesus for only 17 days; or
    2. Mary was pregnant with Jesus for 12 1/2 months; or
    3. Christians know, and have always known, that Christmas is nothing to do with the birth of Jesus.

  5. Bevan says:

    The importance for a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, is not so much the date he arrived, but that He did arrive to lay down His life as the perfect & final sacrifice to the Creator for mankinds sin debt, for those who trust in Him.

    • Eric says:

      Dear Bevan,,feel sorry for you mate,,you’re totally delusional!

      • Graeme says:

        Really?Have a look around you.Floods,wars,civil unrest,radiation,economic disaster,earthquakes,tornadoes,cyclones,volvanic eruptions,all as prophesied.Because people close their minds,atheists as well as religious people of all faiths,they do not see the truth.You listen to dawkins and similar who know NOTHING of the Bible.The Bible describes in Hebrew in DETAIL in Zechariah 5 the inner workings of the bomb on hiroshima.It is encoded with dates and events.You mock because you already know everything and cannot learn.Your pride stops you from learning.The Bible is full of science as well.But you prefer to stay blind and ignorant.

        • Jason Todd says:

          Erm. Graeme;

          ” 1 I looked again, and there before me was a flying scroll.
          2 He asked me, “What do you see?”

          I answered, “I see a flying scroll, twenty cubits long and ten cubits wide”

          The atomic bomb was not, nor did it contain, a flying scroll of such dimensions.

          Nor do I recall the bible predicting a reactor meltdown at a Japanese power plant.

          Enlighten me. Please.

        • Patrick says:

          Oh Graeme,

          When I look clouds I seeas many shapes things as my imagination allows. But they do not actually exist. You can read into the Bible as much as you want. Doe not mean it is true. There is no atomic bomb in the bible. Seriously! I’ll bet with a little effort you can see computers, black holes, viruses, hippies like jesus. :)

  6. Patrick says:


    What does that mean “6 month”. Was Mary already pregnant? Another being?

  7. Jim Lee says:


    Do you think that Mary and Joseph should have remembered the miraculous events surrounding the birth of Jesus? You would naturally think that when a woman goes through a unique conception, that she would remember it, and that the man who’s wife became pregnant while they were engaged, without any effort on his part, that he would remember it also. It is not something he would easily forget. Yet the gospel writers seem to have strange memory lapses.

    According to Luke 2: 42-50, Mary finds Jesus in the temple, she chastises him for causing so much trouble, whereby he replied “Why is it that you are looking for me? Did you not know that I must be concerned with the affairs of my father”. Luke’s gospel adds, “and they (Mary and Joseph) did not understand the saying that he (Jesus) spoke to them.” Mary does not understand, Joseph does not understand, If Mary and Joseph were both visited by angels before the birth of Jesus, how is it that they don’t understand, some twelve years later. Has Mary forgotten that Jesus was supernaturally conceived in such a way as was never experienced by any other person? Is it unlikely that Mary would forget Elizabeth saying to her? “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” “And why is this (granted) to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me.” Luke 1:42-43, and especially Mary’s own words. “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my saviour. For he has looked upon the humble state of his slave girl, for, behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed, because the mighty one has done great things to me, and holy is his name.” Luke 1:46-49,

    After all of this Mary does not know what Jesus meant when he said that he must be concerned about the affairs of his father. How could Mary and Joseph forget that the wise men Magi worshipped Jesus as a baby and presented him with gold, frankincense, and myrrh? Matthew 2:11, They also seemed to forget how an angel appeared to Joseph telling him to go to Egypt with Mary and Jesus. Matthew 2: 13, and that Herod slew all of the children two years of age or under in Bethlehem. Matthew 2: 16. How could they forget that, (apart from the fact that it fulfilled scripture,

    Hosea 11:1) Why did they have to flee to Egypt ? Did they go to Egypt? According to Luke 2: 39, they went to Nazareth and were not in the dangerous area of Bethlehem, where it is alleged that Herod had the children slain. This creates another problem Herod died four years prior to when the church originally stated that Jesus was born.

    Perhaps Matthew’s placing them in Egypt to fulfill scripture was too quick for Joseph and Mary to remember, for Luke 2: 22, has them in Jerusalem for forty days after the birth to fulfill Leviticus 12:1-8, and then in Luke 2:39, they return to Nazareth. They also seemed to forget how the shepherds, made known the saying which had been told to them about this child, Luke 2: 17. Mary and Joseph even forgot, how they marveled ten months after the angelic visitations, that is, one month after the event surrounding Jesus birth.

    At that time they were already surprised when Simeon and Anna, the daughter of Phanvel, spoke of Jesus future while he was yet still an infant. Luke 2:25-38.

    If these events are historical, why is it that later, during Jesus active period, no one, not even his family, seem to know of his marvelous origins, Matt.13: 54-55, If a conception took place would not Mary have some idea just as to who Jesus was? Would not she reveal this information to her family? Yet we find that Jesus relatives, who came to seize him, Mark 3:21,31, are not told by Mary his mother, who comes and joins them, that contrary to what they think, Jesus is not crazy.

    The gospel of John states “For neither did his brothers believe in him” John 7: 5, Did Mary not inform the rest of her children of Jesus divine origins. It is hard to understand that Mary would not inform them that Jesus was the “messiah” so that they might believe in him and thereby enjoy salvation, and what of Mary’s own reaction towards Jesus. In the few appearances that Mary herself makes in the gospels, during the lifetime of Jesus, there is no indication that she showed any understanding that her son Jesus, was the “son of God.” by means of a unique conception. Mark 3:31-35, John 2:3-4. She, Mary revealed no such understanding to his followers.

    Jesus earlier followers said that Jesus became the “Son of God” through the resurrection and they never mentioned a unique conception. Paul declared Jesus to be “Son of God” with power, by the resurrection from the dead. Romans 1: 4, see also Acts 13: 33, Where Psalm 2: 7 is applied to the resurrection.

    The doctrine of a unique conception seems to have no effect upon Christian teaching prior to its mention in the last part of the first century.

    On the basis of New Testament records it is doubtful that Jesus family, or the early believers, and most of all, even Mary herself did not know about the unique conception she is alleged to have undergone.” Did you not know that I must be concerned with the affairs of my Father?” Strange as it may seem, Mary and Joseph did not know it. They did not know it because they had never heard of their son’s “miraculous conception”. It appears that the unique miraculous conception came into circulation long after the deaths of the people in this story.

    Jim. Lee. 9/99.

  8. Mar Elsby says:

    I have a question if that isn’t out of order here. There are a number of sites listing Horus and other gods with the same story as the Jesus story. There is a comparison of Joseph in the old testament to Jesus in the new testament. Are these based on fact? If so the Jesus story is based on the worship of the Sun as they allude to. I would love a more knowledgable person than me with the bible and these legends who could confirm or deny these stories.

    • Davo says:

      This stuff was really promoted in the Zeitgeist film, which has a lot of issues.

      The reality is that many myths converge on similar ideas, because, well walking on water and healing the sick, rising from the dead, miraculous birth etc are wondrous types of things to apply to a god figure.

      I think the problem is Zeitgeist has elements of truth, and embelishes and links them together to create a conspiracy theory. It makes leaps between both coincidence and similarity by embellishing them.

      I would be critical in anything you get from it. I really recommend looking up information and judging for yourself. Earl Doherty as well as Richard Carrier I recommend reading, which are a lot more critical than Zeitgeist which is basically a lot of stuff strung together for hype.

      For an example of how it makes associations that are not warranted, just with regard the date the 25th Dec, Pope Julius I declared it jesus birthday around 350 CE. It was not something that evolved from association to Mithras and other beliefs, it was setup to coincide and take over the festival of Saturnalia to most probably promote christianity.

      A good read is here

  9. Mark Elsby says:

    Much appreciate information on the Zeitgeist film etc. There is a great deal of this on-line and people should be skeptical of all unknown sources. It tends to clutter up searches and the other re-interpretations of the story when you are trying to find the truth.

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