Culture jamming Christmas lights

I grew up in an interesting household. We had all the cultural trappings of two religions, Judaism and Christianity, even though nobody seriously believed in the stuff. We had Christmas trees, menorahs, Easter egg hunts, matzoh, prayers in Hebrew, and Christmas lights. It was a big, fun, mishmash, and I’m glad for the experiences because I have lots of fond memories to reminisce upon. But, now that I’m older, I want to do something that expresses my own beliefs, not something that expresses beliefs I do not share.

Judging by retail outlets, Christmas is right around the corner, so I’ve started thinking about what I could do with Christmas lights that wouldn’t be mistakable. I’ve seen some Jews in my area string up blue lights in combination with a large mock menorah, thus proving it’s possible to use strings of little lights in a way that is unambiguously not Christian (and really, Christians cannot claim to have a monopoly on lights). So what works well as an atheist holiday light display?

I’m having trouble coming up with something. My best idea so far is a red A made by cutting a large letter A out of plywood, painting it white, and covering it with strings of red lights. It’d basically be a lighted version of this design:


The problem is that most people won’t know what it means. Even some fellow atheists I’ve talked to weren’t aware of this symbolism. I suppose atheism just doesn’t have good symbols like religions — but c’mon, we should! If anyone can come up with a good idea for my holiday lights display, please let me know in the comments. Otherwise, I guess I’ll just go with the A.

5 Responses to “Culture jamming Christmas lights”

  1. Jens 'Spacejens' Rydholm Says:

    A picture of a famous scientist (Darwin maybe?), framed by a string of lights. Or a stylized DNA molecule.

    I think the important part is stressing your own non-belief while trying not to offend anyone. The fish-with-legs icon is a parody of a symbol important to many Christians, for example, and therefore is not a good symbol to use (even though it would work well with the theme).

    Me, I simply do not decorate.

  2. Brady Fullerton Says:

    Perhaps, you could keep the “A” but make it more poignant by using the Anarchist A. This would both symbolize atheism, and an Anarchistic rejection of organized religion. Just a thought.

  3. Cyde Weys Says:

    Here’s the thing though: I’m really not an anarchist. I believe in government. I think government is necessary. So I’m not going to display an anarchist symbol on the off-chance that some people misinterpret it as meaning atheism. Also, I disagree with the metaphor that anarchism is to governance as atheism is to religion. Anarchism is probably a better metaphor for agnostic. But there’s nothing chaotic, unplanned, or lacking, in a disbelief in god(s) concluded by rational and analytical thought.

  4. roscivs Says:

    The FSM is probably the closest you’ll get to a recognizable “atheist symbol”. You might also consider a peace sign (if that meshes with your views); I think in this day and age that carries non-religious overtones and yet has a positive message too.

  5. Cyde Weys Says:

    I had thought of using the FSM, but that’d be a lot harder to do in lights than even an A. Remember, it has to make sense when viewed from a nearly 180 degree field. I suppose you could maybe do it in lights so that it looked good from one orientation, but a full 3D Flying Spaghetti Monster? Ouch! Probably beyond my skills.

    Now as for a peace sign, that’s a good idea. I’ve seen some around in this neighborhood.