Monday, December 24, 2012

Season’s Greetings

I enjoy accuracy and truth and, if I’m really honest, a bit too much pedantry. So I’ve always loved the slogan, “Axial Tilt: It’s the Reason for the Season”. The slogan pisses off dour fundamentalist Christians, which is a bonus, but I like it because it’s true: We have summer and winter because the earth tilts at 23.4 degrees off the perpendicular (relative to the ecliptic plane), so axial tilt is, quite literally, the reason for this season—and all the others.

So, in that sense, “Season’s Greetings” on a Christmas card is perfectly legitimate, though perhaps only when referring to the reason for the season. That’s all pedantic enough to really please me.

I know that some people get very upset indeed when people don’t acknowledge the Christian side of the holiday, but, quite frankly, I don’t really care: Such Christians almost always refuse to acknowledge the pagan (non-Christian) origins of most of their holiday: The Christmas tree, carolling, mistletoe, holly, yule log, Santa/Father Christmas and even the date of December 25 all have origins in non-Christian beliefs. So, it seems to me that it’s more than a little precious to expect everyone to treat Christmas as a totally Christian holiday.

People of many religions—as well as none at all—enjoy the Christmas holiday in its secular form. That’s not going to change. Even though some people and some retailers like to focus on their personal religious beliefs around the holiday, they can’t seriously expect those of us who believe differently to do the same.

To exist, freedom of religion must, as I often say, also mean freedom from religion, and that means that those of us who don’t share in the Christian belief structure are entitled to celebrate Christmas in the way that most makes sense for us, just as Christians are entitled to celebrate the way they choose. Freedom of religion.

But axial tilt really is the reason for the season, with or without religion.

I created the graphic with this post using an image in the public domain. I claim no ownership over that image, but the composition is licensed under my usual Creative Commons license.


Roger Owen Green said...

you pedantic? say it ain't so!

Arthur Schenck said...

Only when I spell it correctly, Roger. The rest of the time it's just jewellery.