Maciej Matuszewski - No

Christmas is traditionally a time of celebration but it has recently become quite a controversial holiday. I often hear people complaining about us losing touch with its traditional values and extolling us to “keep Christ in Christmas”.

I don’t see much sense in this attitude. While this is a Christian holiday there is no reason why atheists or people from other religions can’t get something out of it too. While it almost certainly has greater significance and meaning for believers I don’t particularly think that you need religion to take away this holiday’s message of joy and goodwill. This is especially evident in how good Christmas is at bringing people together. Gathering all your relatives around a single table can improve family cohesion, whether you believe in the story of Jesus’ birth or not.

It seems strange that so many Christians object to others celebrating this holiday when it is widely suspected that Christmas itself borrowed much from ancient pagan celebrations. Early Christians managed to take traditions that originated with beliefs that were completely alien to theirs and still turn them into something meaningful. Non-Christians can do the same today.

I always get very annoyed when people complain about things like putting up decorations too early, and the commercialisation of Christmas. I might not agree with these things but, since they don’t interfere in the way I chose to celebrate I don’t see why I should make a fuss. I think that the most important principle of our society is that people should be free to do whatever they want as long as they don’t hurt others.

Those who do speak out are also very often hypocritical. I doubt that all those who are so vocal about the importance of religion in Christmas spend the whole of the 25th December in prayer and contemplation instead of partying with friends. They’ve accepted some secular aspects of the holiday so I find it strange that they should dislike those who accept a few more.

Such attitudes are doing far more harm than good. A few dissenters won’t stop others celebrating this holiday as they best see fit. Instead, these irrational arguments add unnecessary tension to this festive period and take away from its peaceful message.

This was taken to extremes last year when a number of shops in Leeds were threatened and vandalised after they started selling Christmas cards in August.

Everybody would be happier if we just let each other be.

Chris Richardson - Yes

All too often I am confronted by pretentious atheists who are equally as intolerable as their religious fundamentalist counterparts: with The God Delusion as their Bible in hand these obnoxious babbling idiots often think they’re superior and fail to acknowledge their own hypocrisy.

Said types of people are usually the first to complain at any other so-called festive holiday as a marketing scam employed by those evil corporations to force you into consumption of cards and other tacky crap, but make an exception for December 25th. Sure, the unity of the family and exchange of gifts is all fine and dandy, but the same crude Valentine’s Day logic can also apply here – shouldn’t such acts be spontaneous and not confined to a single day on the calendar? Or are you otherwise too unimaginative to conjure up something for yourself?

Yes, oh-so enlightened atheists, we’re aware that December 25th is a date heinously stolen by those vandals to eliminate traces of a Roman solar holiday. While the date may be of pagan origin and thus not Christian, I’d like to remind you that you’re in fact not a pagan either: by participating in this date hijacking you’re simply stooping to the level of the thieves. Simply having an awareness of the pagan roots isn’t a reason to celebrate, unless of course you have a soft spot for Roman sun gods.

Good old Dicky Dawkins, naturally, has a lot to say on the subject, incessantly rambling that Atheism simply takes it “one god further”, and that in a way all Christians are atheists because they reject notions of Zeus, Thor and so on.

Equally we have to ask why atheists select only Christian holidays for their repertoire: are festivities from other religions not also worthy periods of sharing the love within your family? Or perhaps it’s because of our ‘culture’, whatever that means. It’s thanks to dim-witted disposable answers like ‘culture’ that things ranging from the abuse of children to evidence-based drugs policies get too easily overlooked.

Tied in neatly with ‘culture’ is this idea of tradition: we should celebrate Christmas because that is how it’s always been in this glorious country. I don’t think that I really have to point out (or perhaps I do) that this is in direct violation of the free-thinking fundamentals of secularism. If we stuck with this attitude of conservatism in other walks of life we’d be in an incredibly dreary society: such old traditions ought to be tossed away if we’re really concerned about a forward-moving zeitgeist. Go ahead and abandon it, stop giving them further reason to incorrectly brand us a Christian nation.