The following was sent in from a reader's who posted this on their personal blog last year on another website; any changes were made by the author. Reprinted with permission.
Yes, I'm a Rational Hedonist, I am the center of my world, and an atheist when it comes to any external deity. And I know that Christmas is that season of giving and unselfishness and giving -- to others ... But ... BUT ...
I love Christmas! I love the hunt on Black Friday, I love that the prices go down to what they ought to be the entire year – I'll usually buy myself a few things along with odds and ends on sale for others. I just like being out and soaking up all that energy.
Who cannot love the lights, the whimsical displays, the decorations and food, and .... presents!
I get happiness at knowing I got someone that one thing they mentioned months ago and watching that light in their eyes, the look on their face as they look at me with disbelief. Yes, I listened and remembered. Damn, I'm good!
Does it bother me to say, "Merry Christmas?" .... Nope, not at all.
And maybe what I'm actually saying is, “Merry Kris-mas”? As in, Kris Kringle, not that "other" guy!
Most of the customs and traditions of Christmas actually pre-date the birth of Jesus, but that's the holiday's name, and it's pretty far removed from its original point, starting from the time when Constantine melded "barbaric" winter solstice type traditions with newly forming Christianity, trying to unify the Roman Empire under a universal religion. Until the capitalistic Americanization of Christmas exploded with the marketing strategy of Santa's appearing in department stores, Hallmark, and Coca-Cola reconfiguring the image of Santa, in other countries, Christmas was pretty much a Dickens's "A Christmas Carol "/"God Rest Ye Merry. Gentlemen" quiet collective mixture of British, Germanic, and Nordic traditions.
I'm not a "Bah-Humbug"-ger, I don't feel the need to argue anyone's belief that Christmas is Jesus' birthday when odds are, realistically, if the man existed historically, he was born probably late summer or early fall .... and that if Christians are so offended by the paganization and commercialization of the holiday, it could have been moved to another date - one without presents or lights, just quiet church-time reflection, but come on, it is when it is, mixed together with a little bit of this and that, it's colorful and fun, so lighten up!
I do things my way of course. I have my artificial palm tree with colored blinking lights, my sexy high-heeled-boot stocking (size large for extra stuffage space), because Santa knows where all the naughty girls live!! I'm going to enjoy the parties, and the gifts, the lights, colors and fun of the season - matters not to me what is being celebrated - Chanukah, Christmas, Solstice/Yule .....
Political Correctness? Offensive to some? I certainly don't say it to everyone; but f I see some sweet older lady wearing ornament earrings and a green sweatshirt depicting a Christmas tree surrounded by dancing Santa and reindeer, I think it's a safe bet I can't go wrong saying "Merry Christmas!".
I don't have to be a "downer" or grinchy, or an intellectual snob during the only time of year it seems to be mutually agreed upon for people to be nice to and think of each other. And hey, people want to give you something, they struggle wondering what to get you, so don't be shy about hinting or flat out telling folks know what you want!
Have fun enjoying with family and friends!
Responding To A Question Regarding a Universal Symbol
"I look forward to seeing the growth of the RH movement as a natural, and instinctively righteous alternative to other world religions. And while I do like the suggested symbols of the RH, I'd really like to see one, universal symbol of the belief. Pride, after all is one potent motivational tool for helping others to see their truths in themselves. And symbol of RH is a symbol of our ability to love what matters most, ourselves, and that is something to be very proud of." ~~ P.P.
Thank you for taking the time out to respond and for your comments!
We appreciate hearing from others. Unfortunately, due to the amount of emails received, R.H. Leadership is seldom able to respond one-on-one to every email.
You stated: "And while I do like the suggested symbols of the RH, I'd really like to see one, universal symbol of the belief."
The symbols are simple in that they serve as a "blank page", expressed in the way Rational Hedonists interpret and choose.
It is one of the things that frustrates and confounds those who try to make one thing work for all Rational Hedonists.
Rational Hedonism is not a "herd" religion. It is older than Christianity. The name alone represents a banner of imagined decadence and sin to the majority.
Not everyone wants to rally around the same colored flag and march to the same music; One might not even get many Rational Hedonists to show up to the rally. The need to belong to a group tends to defeat the idea of individualism. While there are no "churches" per se, what you'll find instead are Rational Hedonists gathering within special interest groups designated into "Gardens" (in recognition of the famous Gardens of Epicurus); and the various life and seasonal celebrations that bring any group together.
As you are aware, the two primary images recognized by Rational Hedonists are the hand and fingerprint. They were not designed to be "catchy" as we do not proselytize. However, the hand can be presented in a variety of ways -- holding a hammer symbolizing building, a quill or artist brush for creativity, molding clay, comforting a child, surgeon's hands, ...any stylistic elaboration is purely the whim and fancy of individual personal taste. What is important is that the hand is recognized, but the diversity of what it can do is as varied as those who put it to use in their lives. I have seen women wear necklaces of a Victorian-style gloved hand holding a rose or birthstone.
Finger and thumbprint jewelry are very recognizable among Rational Hedonists as they are uncommon among the general public as jewelry pieces, the thumbprint usually the preferable as humans have the opposable thumb.
The nautilus shell is meaningful to those who have gone through life changes, sometimes given as a necklace at the death of a loved one, moving to begin a new job, etc. Others like it as it represents to them that every day is a new adventure, full of possibilities; what happened yesterday is passed and over. The owl has always been seen as a symbol of wisdom, and belonged to Athena, goddess of philosophy and wisdom - appropriate.
The peacock feather and it's colors were suggested (representing pride) as Rational Hedonists in the U.S. and England chose a peacock feather and color motif for their weddings, then gained acceptance amongst non-R.H. weddings and became a popular theme amongst wedding planners.
At one time, there were suggestions of using a "brain" symbol (!) representing the "rational" side, but R.H. is not merely a cerebral religion. While it does expect free, imaginative thought, it is what one does with that creativity and ideas that ultimately make a difference in your life, as long as you understand that the things that are meaningful and most important and symbolic to you may not be to another.
" And a symbol of RH is a symbol of our ability to love what matters most, ourselves"
True; Self-Pride is at the core.
You are welcomed and encouraged to create a symbolic representation meaningful to you, to incorporate that which represents You within the recognized symbols. This is why "charm" bracelets and necklaces are very popular among R.H. ladies - the opportunity for self-expression in displaying interests, travels, and cherished things.
There is currently work being done on what will be a more socially interactive website: Shameless Passion.
If you do choose to follow through on your artistic talent to create your own interpretation and suggestion of a universal symbol for Rational Hedonism and are agreeable to having it shown publically, please notify the Celebrant staff overseeing Shameless Passion, I know they were planning a photos page.
Thank you again for your interest!
G.K. is currently the official Spokesman representing Rational Hedonism online; an Ordained Celebrant (not "celibate"!) with R.H. and conducts or advises others with Weddings, Civil Unions, Remembrance Ceremonies (both people and pets), Adoption and Naming Ceremonies; and conducts "Garden" Parties for Rational Hedonists throughout the United States.