10 Best Christmas Songs for Atheists
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And finally, the hands-down runaway winner, the no-question-in-my-mind Best Atheist Christmas Song of All Time:
1: Deck the Halls. It's totally gorgeous. It's unrepentantly cheerful -- jolly, one might even say -- with just a hint of that haunting spookiness that makes for the best Christmas songs. It celebrates all the very best parts of Christmas: singing, playing music, decorating, dressing up, telling stories, hanging around fires, and generally being festive with the people we love. It's old as the hills: the lyrics are well over 100 years old, and the tune dates back to at least the 16th century, if not earlier. Absolutely everybody knows the thing, and even the folks who don't can chime in cheerfully on the "Fa la la la la" part. It's ridiculously easy to sing without being boring. Plus it's spawned one of the finest song parodies ever: "Deck Us All with Boston Charlie," from Walt Kelly's Pogo, a parody that's almost as beloved as the original song.
And it doesn't mention God, or Jesus, or angels, or virgin births, or magical talking animals, or redemption of guilt through blood sacrifice, or any supernatural anything. Not even once. Heck, it doesn't even mention Christmas. This is a Yule song, dammit -- and proud of it! If there are any gods at all who inspired this song, they are entirely pagan pre-Christian ones. Totally, 100% made of atheist Christmas win.
Honorable mentions. The 12 Days of Christmas. It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Up on the Housetop. Over the River and Through the Woods. Jolly Old St. Nicholas. The Christmas Song (a.k.a. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire). I'll Be Home For Christmas. Frosty the Snowman. Here Comes Santa Claus. Jingle Bell Rock. O Christmas Tree. All these fit all my criteria, and would be perfectly reasonable additions to your secular Christmas songbook. They just didn't quite make my Top Ten.
So Merry Christmas, to everybody who likes to celebrate it! Enjoy your decked halls, your ringing bells, your food, your hooch, your snow, your staying the hell out of the snow and fooling around, your sleigh rides, your expensive jewelry, your neighbors who you're pestering with endless Christmas carols... and above all else, the people you love. There's probably no God -- so stop worrying, and enjoy Christmas!