Happy Holidays!

By Sean Carroll | December 24, 2011 6:23 pm

Merry Christmas, or whatever holiday you choose to celebrate, everybody. And if you don’t choose to celebrate for any particular reason, feel free to celebrate for no reason at all.

Here’s a legitimately touching Xmas song, Tim Minchin’s White Wine in the Sun (indirectly via Balloon Juice). As an Australian, he has a warmer image of the season than we Northerners. This isn’t the one that got censored from British TV, which is more amusing than heartwarming, but also worth a listen.

  • Phil

    Why do you celebrate Christmas when you’re an atheist?

  • Phil

    Christmas = celebrate Jesus’ birth.

  • Martin

    Phil: Actually, growing up, I celebrated Christmas every year without any mentioning of Christ or religion. To me, it’s a time of presents, cheerful songs, generosity, and more time with loved ones. I would say it’s a time of joyfulness, but that shouldn’t be limited to just the holidays. Merry Christmas!

  • Supernova

    And there’s always the solstice aspect of Christmas: when the days are so short, it’s good to gather your loved ones close and celebrate the return of the light. At least for those of us in the northern hemisphere. :)

  • AJ

    I’ve composed a little Christmas song: It’s a cheery tune with character/costume changes ‘to boot’.HO, HO, HO! It’s simply about what Christmas means to me :) Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAv2_zSn9aI

  • Gizelle Janine

    Well Merry Christmas from 1984


  • David Brown

    Christmas from a historical viewpoint is not totally benign. Krampus is the terror of naughty children.

  • Al Cibiades

    Joyeux Noël == Joyous Entry

  • Tintin

    Tim Minchin, of all people? The man cannot carry a tune, and this song is daft.

  • M Gantt

    Phil, and others who wonder “why?” Why not? This time marks new beginnings and overcoming the fear of old things ending. Nearly every culture has some kind of celebration at this time of year. Being an non-believer doesn’t mean one must hate believers, or that we must adopt a glum attitude while they celebrate. Happiness and wonder are contagiously healthy feelings. Peaceful goodwill toward others is a positive credo, no matter where it originates. Being secure in one’s own belief allows one to join in the celebrations of others with differing beliefs.

  • http://virtuallyjesuschrist.com Dan McFarling

    While it may be true, that the reason for the season,
    in reality, is cosmic debris,
    and there’s a variance between the sentiments,
    and what happens actually,
    Many still HOPE for some CHANGE at this time,
    or a present for the moment.
    At this place in time & space,
    I’ll just leave you with these words:

    May this day be filled with Love & Joy,
    for each & every one of you.
    But better still, may every day,
    be filled with that & more.

    It matters not what you think or believe,
    if you want to know the truth.
    In reality though, there are those of you,
    who deny it’s very existence.
    Know that it don’t matter to me,
    I’ll still be here for you.

    Peace be with those of you,
    who do know what the truth is.
    May the rest of you,
    and your loved ones too,
    live long & prosper also.

    With an Everlasting Love,
    Now, & Forever Always,
    virtually yours . . .

  • Nick

    “Tim Minchin, of all people? The man cannot carry a tune, and this song is daft.”

    And this from someone who goes by the handle Tintin? Ho Ho Ho!

  • Michael

    Winter soltice is winter soltice many texts explain seasonal celebrations and roots. Mythology folklore ledgends symbolism never understand why it is not a part of collective psyche . Historical evolution argicultural species on your planet. Alien what time is it!

  • http://read2learn.net Kent Mauresmo

    LMAO! This song is horrible! This is the best song you can find? Ahh..come on.

  • Tintin


    I don’t think tintin ever pretended he could write a song, much less sing it, did he?

  • Damian

    this might be the most un-catchy-est song ever… two thumbs down

  • Rick

    I for one am grateful that Sean posted something more original than the vanilla Nat King Cole fare that most of these commenters seem to be expecting. The imagery in this song is superb. Thumbs up.

  • noen

    “Christmas = celebrate Jesus’ birth.”

    No it doesn’t. It was originally a pagan holiday celebrating winter solstice. Then Christianity appropriated it, then it was appropriated again by businesses. Christmas is both a secular and religious holiday.

  • Debra

    I was happy to find this today not a usual Christmas song (at least where I’m from) but a beautiful one nonetheless. un-catchy maybe horrible no way.

  • Count Iblis

    Many atheists are forced to celebrate Christmas. It is now difficult (but not impossible) to get to your office, also the fact that many shops are closed doesn’t help. So, you are more or less forced to stay at home :( .

  • Martin

    Count Iblis: While all you say might be true, I wouldn’t say it’s a bad thing! :)

  • Kevin

    Thanks for the link, I quite enjoyed this song. =) Minchin is great.

    Also: trees, decorations, cards, presents, candy, family… seems pretty secular to me.

  • noen

    “Many atheists are forced to celebrate Christmas.”

    No you aren’t. But I suppose it would feel that way if you believe everyone should think and act like you. Fortunately few people are that self involved. Most people are able to be around people who they don’t necessarily agree with.

    It’s called being an adult.

  • Nick

    “I don’t think tintin ever pretended he could write a song, much less sing it, did he”

    Well, he may very well have. Anyway, I have to admit that I’m not up on the history of Tintin, but I’m pretty sure that Tim Minchin hasn’t been involved in any of the following:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Tintin — see Controversy.

    By the way, are you a songwriter yourself? Or do you just “know what you like”. If you do write songs, please provide a link to one or two — I’d love to listen. 😉

  • JohnMc

    I found Tim Minchin’s song extrmely moving, and thank you for posting it.
    I loved the lines:
    “And if, my baby girl
    When you’re twenty-one or thirty-one
    And Christmas comes around
    And you find yourself nine thousand miles from home
    You’ll know what ever comes
    Your brother and sisters and me and your Mum
    Will be waiting for you in the sun…”

  • Leif

    Thanks Sean and Happy Holidays to you too! I hope you can respond to my emails when you get a chance..I would really appreciate it.

    Thanks and all the best,


  • dave chamberlin

    great song, I gathered 21 distantly scattered relatives at my house for Christmas, and that is why I really like Christmas.

  • http://www.flisser.com Bob F.

    Happy Festivus (for the rest of us)! Time to plant the Festivus pole and air our grievances.

  • guineaworm

    Thanks for the pointer. This man is brilliant.

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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .


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