I have a reputation of being lucky during the holidays because I tend to win minor prizes in Christmas party raffles. One time I won a TV. Another time I won some gift certificates. There was that time I won a washing machine. Things like that. One buddy jokingly suggested that maybe God was trying to woo me into believing in Christmas by letting me win these minor prizes. Or maybe Satan was rewarding me for sowing the seeds of doubt, I thought. Interpreting random events can go both ways. I don’t know about luck. I know that the probability of winning something in a company raffle is high because there are so many prizes and not that many employees. I also know that I’ll never waste my money buying lotto tickets because probability states that you have a higher chance of getting smote by lightning than winning in the national lottery.
But there’s a bigger issue that struck me that night. People think I don’t believe in Christmas just because I’m atheist. The thing is: I do.
Thunder cracks ominously in the distance.
You must remember that religions and other creative endeavors do not spring forth in a vacuum. There’s always an inspiration. The inspiration for Christmas is the winter solstice, wherein everyone in the northern hemisphere starts experiencing longer days. Planet earth’s tilt plus its revolution around the sun. The winter solstice has been celebrated and connected to their gods by various peoples throughout the history of humankind. The Sami of Finland, Sweden, and Norway have the Beiwe festival. The ancient Greeks have the Brumalia. The ancient Romans have the Saturnalia. The Kalash people of Pakistan have Chawmos. Christians have Christmas. Ancient Iranians, specifically the Zoroastrians, have Deygan and Maidyarem. East Asian culture has the Dongzhi festival. The list goes on. We have tons of evidence that the winter solstice has been extremely important to human beings since the Bronze Age. Everyone’s just so goddamned happy that the days are getting longer and the nights are getting shorter.
If you identify as a Christian, you’ve probably left by now. But if you’re still reading: hi there. We may not have the same reason for celebrating the winter solstice but I’m sure we can agree that it’s fun.
So, is God wooing me or is Satan rewarding me by giving me Christmas luck and making me win minor prizes in parties? As I lugged a heavy bag of Noche Buena goodies into the bus that would take me home to Muntintlupa City, I thought: if either case were actually true, then both these cosmic beings are cheapskates.