What do you tell your children about the holidays?

Jenny - posted on 03/31/2009 ( 20 moms have responded )

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My daughter is 6 and asked me yesterday what Good Friday was. I told her it was a Friday that was really good because you got to spend some more time with your family away from work and school. I don't want to get into a detailed conversation quite yet about what others beleive the day means to them.

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Amanda - posted on 02/24/2011

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I still celebrate all holidays but i explain them as family holidays. Xmas is a day we show each other we love each other and get to spend special time with the ones we love. I found it interesting that my religious family showered my kids in gifts, and i was the one who had to tone it down and bring it back to something meaningful. I provide one gift for each family and friend we share this holiay with from my family, and had to limit family to the same. I felt like i was offending some to tell them 'we celebrate this as a family event, and want my kids to remember that there is a person behind each present they recieve. and they are recieving those presents as signs that they are loved and cared for."

I still play along with santa, easter bunny etc. as characters. Really there is more proof of them then there is god, so to make the holiday anything more than commercial makes no sense to me. They will realize one day that Elmo, Dora, Santa etc arent real. I dont mind playing along to make her happy, because she isnt basing her lifestyle on their existence.

Emma - posted on 01/06/2011

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X-mass is a non event in our house So its same old same old. We go all out on the kids Birthdays though as those are births worth celebrating.
We don't do Santa, tooth fairy ect

Hailey - posted on 12/13/2010

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hi jenny. Im not a christian, Liesels school is not religous, its a public school in England. I know i said she 4 but has always been very interested in things well beyond her age. Very shocked at some of the things she asks. I would never tell her anything i thought she couldnt handle, dont wory about that. I dont know details, so i can only tell her enough to satisfy her curiosity. I dont follow any faith, and love how you say what rings true to them, that is exactly how i was trying to put it! She is interested to know what others believe and always says ' i like that part' or 'that is a bit silly' then goes on to tell me what she believes. It all started when she was nearly 2 when her guinea pig died, she asked lots of questions about death and what happens, what do you say when you have no faith and dont know your self? She wasnt sad just very curious. Hope this puts your mind at rest :)

Hailey - posted on 12/13/2010

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Allison, just read your post. I have a very different view on Santa. I am very turthfull to my kids, but, Santa is one i will say is real, and all the other make believe stuff. I will say he is real and magic because so many people say santa is real and gets toys to every kids house all over the world in just one night, it actually gets done. Kids at so many homes get presents and believe they are from santa, the spirit is felt and i believe actually mannifests in some way. A childs imagination is so real, think back, it was as real as you are now. Bit like God really, in a way. So many people believe, its spirit has to exist in some sort of way, even if i dont believe myself. Weird i know. I mythical character geting the job done every year even if it is parents. For the times she sees santas wig half off in a grotto i say... some people like to dress up as santa and keep christmas spirit going and make the boys and girls happy.

Jenny - posted on 12/13/2010

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Hailey, are you an athiest? Is your daughter in religious school? I would be surprised to see a public school doing a nativity. My daughter's sings traditional carols but that's as Jesusy as they get which I'm fine with.

I would be worried about indoctrinating at such a young age. My beleif is to keep away from religion until they old enough to compare and contrast them and really understand what rings true to them.

Hailey - posted on 12/13/2010

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Ye my daughter is 4 and has been doing the Baby jesus nativity at school. She has got quite into it and has been asking lots of questions about what people believe and where christians live. She asked me if she can pop to Bethlehem to see Jesus the other day. I cant bare to lie to her and she can resaon and take truths very well, so her questions lead to jesus being grown up, dead, how he died, what the christians belive happened. She asked, so i told her what i know. She has asked me if she can go to church because they know more answers than me, and sing hyms lol. I dont go to church but will go with her as she has asked to go. Found her a nativity set to to act out the story too, she loves it. I try and teach her to make her own mind up about what she believes and not just take what people say (including me coz mine are weird!) i normally start with -------- believes and then it doesnt get imprinted and she has to make up her own mind.

Allison - posted on 11/23/2010

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Great thread. I have a few specific comments about Santa (applies to the Easter bunny and tooth fairy, too) and would love feedback from you guys.



Our son is just 3 and this year and after much debate we decided to tell him that Santa will bring him a present. It was a magical idea for us when we were little, and he started loving Santa the first time he saw images of him at, like, age 1. Also, my dad used to ring bells during the night and throw things on the roof so we thought Santa was up there :) Being the little questioner I am, I started asking about Santa when I was 5 or 6, and figured out the whole thing was a hoax when I was about 7 or 8. I didn't feel hurt by it at all, and got a big kick out of my parents pretending the thing for so long...and felt like I sort of outsmarted them (a feeling I always enjoyed!) I have a strong feeling my son will do the same, because at age 3 he already questions EVERYthing down to the minute details. My parents also pulled a bunch of other silly jokes on us, like made-up folklore kind of stuff, just for the fun of it...and I really thought it was fun as a kid, trying to figure out which stories were true and which were made up, and I think they unwittingly turned me atheist (and a scientist) by doing all that :)



However, after reading this thread I am getting a little worried about lying to my son. But the main reason we finally decided it was OK to do was because - besides the fun of it - there was a program I heard that the Santa "experience" is a good lesson in skepticism for kids - which may help them to "repel" (or at least question) religious dogma that they hear later. And that concept really goes along with my personal experience. It explained how later on it helps kids to see that it is easy to believe in something so strongly it seems true, but once you see that the evidence isn't there you just have to change your mind...we'll see how this pans out for us in a few years...would love to hear more of your opinions on this topic...

Meg - posted on 10/31/2010

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My husband and I have discussed what we will be telling my son when he gets older and we are just going to tell the truth. If he wants to know, I am not going to make up something, but rather explain to him so that he can understand without making up something.

Chelsy - posted on 10/30/2010

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Yea Kayleigh, I loved my childhood trees and I have a christmas collection complete with ornaments and a whole christmas villiage from precious moments that was a great gift from family that took years to collect. I have yet to set it up since my daughter was born (shes 2 and a half) we just dont have the space for it and its fragile so I would need the right spot for it. Im just not quite sure what my tradition will be.. still working on that one :) haha! Thanks for your input I like the idea of a fake white tree much better then a living tree to have to clean up after.. I do love the smell though.

Kayleigh - posted on 10/30/2010

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Honestly... my mom only let us have an x-mas tree once or twice... she hates them, she says she cant stand having tree corpses in her living room, but huge hunks of plastic pretending to be trees aren't any better... lol
I really ♥ x-mas trees... they are really cool lookin and when my daughter is old enough to ask why we have one even tho we aren't religious, I'm just gonna say "cuz I think they look nifty and are fun to decorate." ^_^
I plan on getting an all white tree, black light Christmas lights, clear and black ornaments, and silver tinsel for our normal one ^_^... creepiest solstice tree EVER ^_^

Chelsy - posted on 10/29/2010

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This was a great thread!! What about a christmas tree? I dont like the idea of lying about Santa or the easter bunny, but I feel much better knowing im not the only non religious mom letting her kids celebrate the major holidays :).. We love halloween and have the excuse to get presents and visit with family and good food!

Kayleigh - posted on 09/26/2010

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Hello, I'm new ^_^ I am 22 and pregnant with my first (a girl!) I have a slightly different take on the "raised religious" thing b/c my mom raised us pagan... my fiance says it really goes to show that most people will abandon their parents beliefs no matter what they are... (he was raised Jehovah's witness till 5 or 6 and then his mom switched to Catholicism)
We have a lot of theories on how we are going to handle the holidays and the concept of religion all together. We both are strongly set in science and things that are proven so we decided (b/c my mom will be homeschooling our daughter, shes in school to be an astronomer and theoretical physicist) that we will teach the concept strictly scientifically and objectively, the source, the history, the different forms of religion, what those figures and stories really represent, its purpose in human psychology, and some of my mom's theories on how some concepts (like transfer of energy) could be scientifically possible. We want her to make her own decisions but we will provide her with all the information right from the get go.
As far as holidays go we will be celebrating several of them, but not in traditional ways at all... Christmas will be a family get together at grandma's (on the 25th) that is about showing we care about the family we are close to. (not many)
However in our personal house hold we will celebrate the Solstice (21-22nd) and on that day it will be explained to her why (cosmically) this day is significant and if she stays up till midnight with us on the solstice she will get presents ^_^
we both think the present thing is important to children's developing psychology in this day and age (as you can imagine my fiance not getting to celebrate his birthday till he was 5 might have something to do with that..lol). However there will be no Santa Claus, i feel that the entire concept causes unneeded trauma to children... makes me feel like I'm lying to them..
We will also celebrate a couple other pagan holidays in a similar manor B/c we feel that its important for her to have something like this to participate in and that it might help her feel more connected to humanity in a way... (Halloween *samhain*, Litha *summer solstice*, Astara *spring equinox and closest holiday to Easter*, and Mabon *fall equinox*)
I hope this creates a fulfilling environment for her to grow up in... it feels like the right balance of tradition and truth for us at least.

Jessica - posted on 08/19/2009

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Quoting Jenny:

I know! It blows my mind to hear Christians say "How can you be an athiest and celebrate Christmas?" They (and I'm generalizing of course) really have no idea their holidays are bastardised versions of pagan celebrations.


I LOVE this! My mom comes from a very strict catholic family and no matter how hard I try they just refuse to open their eyes and see the truth! What gets me the most though is the fact that the bible actually condones, sodomy, incest, murder, genocide, racism, tyranny, infantacide, rape. In the bible it tells of all these things done in the name of God! The bible also says that if a child is cheeky to their parents that they should be stoned to death. Funny thing is that most kids who heard the phrase "stoned to death" nowadays would think that sounds awesome! lol

Jessica - posted on 08/19/2009

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My parents explained to me that it was a religious holiday and that Christians believe this is the day that Jesus rose from the dead. They have always encouraged me to make my own decisions and that I decide for myself and to never let another influence my beliefs, but most importantly to always ask questions! I went to 2 catholic schools and I never got along with the staff at either as I asked questions that they couldn't provide a satisfactory answer to! lol

Jenny - posted on 08/15/2009

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If these beliefs happpened under any other banner than religion they would be recommending medication!

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I had a woman neighbor call me up to offer me "Ressurection Eggs" around Eater when we first moved in. I first has to ask her to repeat what the heck she was offering. It was like hey do you want to borrow a cup of sugar, casual. When I realized what she was talking about I politely said we do not celebrate Easter in that manner. She didn't speak to me for five months. I may have said I like to eat children on Wednesdays with Chili pepper on top, the way she reacted. I wasn't the one trying to spread my insane beliefs to a complete stranger. This is the same lady who doesn't allow her children to dress up/participate for halloween, read Harry Potter or watch the power rangers after the were "mystic forces". They are the most violent children on my block. Whackadoodles

Jenny - posted on 08/15/2009

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I know! It blows my mind to hear Christians say "How can you be an athiest and celebrate Christmas?" They (and I'm generalizing of course) really have no idea their holidays are bastardised versions of pagan celebrations.

[deleted account]

I explain that it is one of the holidays their church going friends celebrate. That is normally all they need. At their ages, a day of aschool needs no explanation. That is the day they start spring break so it really is a good friday. We call Easter, Chocolate Bunny Day. At Christmas, we discuss Santa and his good qualities and love of family time. Most of the holiday are based around pagen holidays, so we can usually avoid any religion talk. They know I don't believe in God and they are encouraged to seek out their own truth.

Amber - posted on 07/06/2009

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I wasn't sure what to do with the hoildays either. But I did find some helpful tips in a book, Raising Freethinkers, a Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief. I found things like calling Easter, Ishtar, after the Pagan spirit of Spring, took out the bitterness of the bible. I could still say "Happy Ishtar" to people, and not feel hypocritical about celebrating the holiday. Or Merry Krismas, which celebrates Kris Krinkle, the spirit of giving. Little things like that help me, and especially my kids not feel like they have to be excluded from the celebrating.

[deleted account]

When I was a child my parents went ahead and explained what the holiday I asked about meant. As a young child it was explained in simple terms--no big long details. As I got older they encouraged me to investigate and find out for myself. My boys have yet to hit the questioning stage in their lives (it'll be soon they're 5 and 3)--when they do I'm pretty sure this is the route I will take.



Good Friday is a really hard one to explain though. I think your explanation is pretty good! Trying to explain the Crucifixion to a six year old would seem like a big ordeal to me!

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