'Tis the season for celebrating, and we should all rejoice, according to American Atheists, Inc. As President Ed Buckner notes, "Claims abound that both Thanksgiving and Christmas are Christian in origin, but in fact both are grounded in non-Christian ideas and rituals that the churches have co-opted for their own purposes.

CHRISTMAS -- Christianity is not the first, nor even the tenth religion to co-opt the Winter Solstice as their own holiday. For example, the Pagan festival of Yule (as in 'Yuletide') was a celebrated winter event centuries before Jesus' alleged birth. Indeed, nearly every tradition currently associated with Christmas has non-Christian roots. As an educational organization, American Atheists urges all Christians to ask their ministers why December 25 was chosen to celebrate Jesus' birth (enjoy the hemming and hawing).

WINTER SOLSTICE -- the celestial event that started it all has been measured and celebrated since man first looked up. The solstice affects all life on earth, and the human traditions surrounding it are rich and plentiful. While Christmas is a Christian holiday, the Solstice is the real 'reason for the season', and it belongs to everyone.

A small, well-funded, and vocal minority of Christians are unhappy with the fact that their holiday has not totally eclipsed all others. They want all other celebrations squashed out, in an effort to make the season uniquely Christian, and organize protests and boycotts against any company which promotes an all-encompassing tolerant attitude ("Happy Holidays" vs "Merry Christmas"). American Atheists acknowledges that such views are only shared by an ignorant and bigoted minority of Christians, but at the same time we look to the more tolerant Christians to quell this attitude. As it is with Islam, the health and growth of Christianity depends on those within the church.

Atheists and others who demand strict separation of church and state seek only to prevent government agents from deciding, for anyone, whether or how to celebrate the season. The multitude of seasonal celebrations underscores the importance of the government's neutrality.

Atheists enjoy parties, celebrations, presents, and life. To those who celebrate America's diversity, we extend our heartfelt wishes for a wonderful season. To those who selfishly try to claim the whole season as their own, we wish a lousy one.