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Holiday Noncelebration: A Tough Concept to Describe

Posted by on Dec 25, 2012 | 9 Comments

We rarely celebrate holidays.

There, I said it. It’s Christmas day and our plans consist of going to a local park, hanging out, maybe hit the hot tub later. Have a glass or two of wine.

In short, today is no different than any other day.

We weren’t always holiday non-celebrators. Early in our relationship, Shelly and I enthusiastically celebrated holidays. We put up the Christmas tree, exchanged presents, and attended Christmas parties. We did the same for Easter, Independence Day, and Thanksgiving.

Eventually things began to change, though. On the surface, it would seem we lost our “holiday spirit.” In reality, the opposite occurred. We started questioning the logic of changing our behaviors a few days each year.

Why should we only eat turkey and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving? Why should we only feel compelled to give during the holiday season? Why should we only dress up in goofy (or slutty) costumes on Hallow’s Eve? Why should we reserve overt affection and romantic gestures for Vantentine’s Day?

That thought process slowly eroded our desire to participate in holiday celebrations. Eventually we generalized this idea to every aspect of our lives. Why reserve travel and adventure to a finite two week vacation period? That’s the idea that led us to quit our jobs and take the path we’re on right now.

Gift-giving underwent a similar erosion. Historically, humans gave gifts to each other for a variety of reasons. Reciprocity builds society, after all. However, two points made gift-giving undesirable.

First, gifts just add to the material crap we worked hard to eliminate. We don’t need another toaster, flat screen TV, or Clapper. Adding more crap isn’t going to improve our lives in a meaningful way.

Second, gift-giving is often attached to deeper feelings. People often give gifts as a means of showing affection. That’s not a bad thing. However, that idea gets severely warped. The actual gift is usually used as an indicator of the level of love or friendship of the relationship.

Our solution- we rarely give each other gifts. Or greeting cards.

It’s common for people to ask “What did you do for [insert holiday here]?” The answer is tough because the real answer is usually “Nothing out of the ordinary.”

That answer then requires an explanation of the philosophy behind our non-celebration. I haven’t found a diplomatic way of describing the non-celebration without making it offensive to those that DO celebrate any particular holiday. Others typically don’t believe that I really don’t care if they celebrate a holiday or not… I’m not silently judging their decisions. Our decisions don’t make us somehow superior, just different. Just because it works for us doesn’t mean it would work for all.

Anyway, I’m curious about other people’s take on any holiday. Are there others that don’t celebrate holidays? I’m sure all of us have some holidays we don’t celebrate. I don’t recall seeing too many people buying Arbor Day decorations. I’m more curious about the big holidays.

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  1. Tess
    December 30, 2012

    I celebrate Christmas and Thanksgiving because my relatives set it aside as a time to get everyone together from their geographically scattered locations, and the exchange of gifts is taken for granted. I’m not crazy about the holidays, definitely not crazy about the gifts–but for people who don’t see family and friends regularly, opting out would cut out a big opportunity to be involved with others. And in my case, trying to discourage the exchange of gifts at Christmas would be very badly received.

  2. briderdt
    December 26, 2012

    As a Christian, Christmas is the beginning, not the end. If that true meaning is held, then there is no post-holiday let-down. But if other “things” are getting in the way, then they need to be put in their place. Which may be “away”. However, to answer those who ask what you did to celebrate, and then question your answer, you could further answer by saying you celebrate EVERY day. There is no one day set aside for the celebration.

  3. karen
    December 26, 2012

    We celebrate the change of seasons as an alternative to the commercialism of the major holidays. I could never drag my husband into the holiday cheer-maybe a visit from Krampus is the solution? Because we live in the northeast, the arrival of spring is always cause for celebration!!!

  4. Ben W
    December 26, 2012

    I totally get not celebrating things like Christmas if you’re not a Christian.

    But I don’t get the idea of not celebrating anything. Celebration of important events seems a basic human drive.

    What’s the motivation behind giving up the idea of celebrating?

    Or am I missing something?

  5. Angie Bee Hotz
    December 26, 2012

    Same here. We dont like the super intense build up and then inevitable crash the day after. We eat turkey whensever. We have parties with decorations for the boys just because. We dont wait to buy fun stuff if its something they are into and get rid of sone stuff to make room for new.
    Im not a christian so christmas doesnt have the same meaning. I hope i dont offend people but really I think they have deeper seeded issues around the holidays.
    Its like drinking or over eating. There are underlying issues. Same with holidays and needing the huge distraction from everyday life. I like my everyday life.

  6. MK
    December 25, 2012

    We are slowly on our way there. We have not celebrated most of the holidays in a while – not Mother’s, Father’s, Valentines, or birth days. We will probably continue celebrating Thanksgiving, though. But just two days ago, we asked ourselves what we will do about Christmas. It has slowly been fading out of our lives (even as Christians). Eliminating Christmas is not an easy decision as a young family, so we are still brainstorming how to go about this.

  7. Ben W
    December 25, 2012

    My primary motivation for celebrating Christmas is remembering the birth of Jesus. The focus of that aspect of my celebration happens at church. But, we also bring the celebrations home with a tree and lights and presents, and lots of add ons like rudolph and frosty the snowman and my origami Tie Fighter ornament, which obviously is more about how I still love Star Wars and the myths of childhood. I’m fine with the hodgepodge blended mix. It’s fun.

    I do try to keep the presents something meaningful and not just useful crap.

    It’s a time that connects people, even if it’s not always for what I consider the “main” reason.

    As for the special meals, I do enjoy cooking a turkey on Christmas. It’s a lot of work, that I am not always willing to do. But, I think holidays give us motivation to go the extra mile. If it’s done with a good spirit, it’s great.

  8. Chris Hawson
    December 25, 2012

    We’ve not ‘done’ holidays for quite a while for all the reasons that you state Jason. I appreciate that some feel the need to give on a schedule but I’d rather not be tied to a timetable.

    Happy Tuesday!

  9. jhuff
    December 25, 2012


    I/we celebrate Christmas to honor and praise God for the birth of Jesus. If I were not a Chrisian I am not sure what I would be doing for Christmas celebrations.