In 2008 Ariane Sherine saw an advertisement on the side of a bus threatening non Christians with Hell, and suggested that atheists collect money to fund a similar campaign offering an alternative viewpoint. With the backing of Richard Dawkins and the British Humanist Association, atheists raised the money to run a four week campaign with billboards on 30 buses in London bearing the slogan "there's probably no God so stop worrying and enjoy your life." They raised far more money than required and the project was extended, allowing the message to be shown on more buses and a campaign of posters on the London Underground with quotes from famous atheists. This book is a sort of spin off from the campaign. It's a collection of 42 essays by various atheists, including Dawkins, David Baddiel, Phil Plait, Emery Emery and Josie Long. The essays range from the scientific to the deeply personal, and many of them are very funny.
At this time of year the media is always abuzz with talk of the so called "war on Christmas". During December any atheist living in a majority Christian country is bound to hear at least one person ask "how come you even celebrate Christmas when you don't believe in God?" Several of the essays in this book provide responses to this question. In How to Stop Worrying and Enjoy Christmas Mitch Benn suggests that saying Atheists shouldn't celebrate Christmas because it has "Christ" in the name makes no more sense than saying that non Vikings aren't allowed to call the third day of the week "Wednesday" since it used to honour Odin, or telling Christians they should ditch Easter since it is named after the goddess Oestre.
Other writers talk about the things they enjoy about the festival. My favourite was probably Starry Starry Night by astronomer Phil Plait, who writes of how he came to associate Christmas with astronomy, and talks about the science behind the story of the star over Bethlehem (spoiler- there wasn't one).
Some of the pieces are about enterainment, such as David Baddiel and Arvind David's An Atheist at the Movies. Others are more philosophical, and there are "how to" essays such as How to Have the Perfect Jewish Christmas, How to Escape from Christmas, I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas (a guide to making your holiday celebrations more environmentally friendly) and How to Decorate the Outside of Your House with Lights and Not Have Your Neighbours Hate You: A guide to turning your home into a festive something that is so bright it can be seen from space.
The Atheist's Guide to Christmas is a fun, irreverent and sometimes quite informative holiday read that would make a great gift for the non-believer in your life. To quote Mitch Benn, "As Tiny Tim would have observed if he'd grown up in my house, random circumstance and the smooth operation of the laws of the universe bless us, every one!"
Sounds like a good book. I'm an atheist and celebrate Christmas. My argument against those who don't think non Christians should celebrate Christmas is integration. There are all these complaints about migrants not integrating into our society - well celebrating one of our holidays is a way to integrate, so it would be silly to object - not that I'm a migrant, but the same applies - it's all about joining in.