Sunday, April 1, 2012

Playing the Fool

I've talked a lot about holidays on this blog. Christian holidays, Pagan holidays, Jewish holidays. However, I've never mentioned any kind of Atheistic holiday. To put it quite simply, there is no Atheistic holiday. It's almost a contradiction, really. Most Atheists don't consider anything to be "holy" so they wouldn't have any kind of holiday. On the other hand, there are many Atheists who wish they did have their own holiday, whether they want it to rub in the faces of Theists, or to have something to share with family, or simply a day of their own for getting off work. There is one day, though, that is argued by some as being the Atheistic holiday of the year. What day might that be? If you checked the date, you may already have guessed, which leads us to this month's question.

"Don't Atheists already have a holiday, April Fool's?"

Despite this being a poor attempt at a joke on behalf on the questioner, it just shows ignorance of the day itself, and the purpose behind it.

It's widely believed that April Fool's came about when the calendar was changed to make January 1st the start of the new year instead of April. The day was then marked to call people fools and play pranks on them for not knowing when the year actually began. This is why some Theists associate the day with Atheists, they consider Atheists to be fools.

This, however, is not the origin of the holiday. We can trace portions of this holiday all the way back to the Romans who celebrated Hilaria on March 25th. This was a day of great rejoicing, when winter ended and the planting season began again. They would dance and play games and could even disguise themselves as another person and imitate anyone, including their own rulers.

That being said, while April Fool's is not an Atheistic holiday, Hilaria could be adapted into something. That's not to say our favorite April holiday isn't for Atheists. We can and do celebrate this day in much the same manner. If it did hold such a disregard for other's calendars in the past, it certainly doesn't now, and no one is safe from the pranks. There is not a shred of any kind of religion left in this day of pranks and musings and it is open for all to enjoy.

Back on the topic of actual holidays, though, there are some holidays that are celebrated by Atheists. Remember those Buddhists I'm so fond of mentioning? Songkran is one of their April holidays which seems the most related to April Fool's. This Thai festival goes on for days where people clean their houses and clothes and sprinkle perfumed water on the monks, novices, and other people. On top of everybody being wet they can enjoy boat races on the river. Good times are had by all and there's a lot of wet, clean fun. No deities involved, so any Atheist can join in when and if they want.

There are, obviously, other such holidays celebrated by various Atheistic religions. However, what about specifically Atheistic holidays? Well, I doubt we'll ever see any of those, for the same reason we will probably never see any specifically Theistic holidays. It just doesn't make any sense to base a holiday on a state of belief or lack there of. It's only when you start getting specific and creating a religion or philosophy that you are able to create a holiday for your group.

So, remember, today is a day everyone can enjoy, not just Theists or Atheists, and don't let anyone fool you into thinking otherwise.

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