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Forum – Celebrating the holiday season: what does it mean for secular humanists?

Every Saturday we meet to discuss a topic decided upon the previous week. These are topics of humanist interest, from a humanist perspective.

The topic of the discussion will be decided in a prior meeting, usually two weeks in advance. This week’s topic is, “Celebrating the holiday season: what does it mean for atheists/agnostics/secular humanists?” by HAT Member, Catherine Francis. Join us, won’t you?

Throughout many parts of the world, including especially North America and Europe, December is a season of celebration, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s etc.

Christmas is traditionally considered to be a religious holiday. But the trappings of Christmas are everywhere and many of them have nothing to do with Christianity. Decorated trees, lights, rampant consumerism (the retail industry depends heavily on the Christmas season to survive), holiday parties. Hanukkah was a minor holiday but given its proximity to Christmas it has been elevated in many ways to imitate Christmas: Increased gift-giving, cards, even decorated cookies and ugly Hanukkah sweaters.

Some questions for discussion:

How can or should the non religious celebrate the holidays?

Did Christianity co-opt pagan holidays?

Can we keep the joy of the holiday season but get rid of the religious trappings?

Does a holiday season shut out people from religions or cultures which have not developed a similar tradition?

Is there a way to make the holiday season more inclusive?

For a few articles on the subject see:

Meet our diverse group, trade perspectives in a free and open forum and learn from others as they learn from you!

BTW: don’t be concerned if there are not many RSVP’s. Many HAT members attend regularly but don’t sign up on Meetup. Our online meetings have been very popular with 20-30 attendees.

NOTE: The HAT Forum adheres strictly to the City of Toronto Policy on Non-Discrimination (

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