There are lots of events going on around London to bring an atheist flavour to Christmas from the launch of the book An Atheist’s Guide to Christmas, to the new bus poster (not specifically about Christmas, just happens to be at this time of year) to various lectures, carol services and so on.
It might be tempting to get uppity about it or to feel that in someway this is threatening. I think this is to be expected and not something to be upset about. Imitation is after all the sincerest form of flattery. There is something in humanity that needs to mark time, that needs to tell itself that the darkness will end and the long fruitful days of summer will return. This is, after all, not the most serious festival of the Christian calender and is largely the result of European take over of midwinter festivals. Christmas is so popular in our culture partly because we need something in the middle of winter to celebrate.
But it’s really important not to get sucked into the cultural approach to the Christian year. The most important Christian Festival is actually Easter. We should of course enjoy our commemoration of Christ’s birth with our own ceremonies but for us it’s Easter that makes the change in our lives.