As an ‘in your face’ atheist, I am often accused of being a big old humbug party pooper, a downer on those others celebrating the birth of Christ. The idea persists, however much evidence exists to the contrary, that my primary objective at this time of the year must be to destroy the turkey dinner and pee on the crackers.

Of course, that’s bollocksology, the result of a few ideas that stuck way back in the collective consciousness for no particularly good reason other than that they served the purveyors of the god myth well.

My christmas period will be spent with my family, exchanging gifts, eating wonderful food, enjoying a break from work and enjoying some good wines. What it won’t include is the angel-heralded virgin birth, being lectured by a suspected paedophile or the ingress through the chimney flue of a bearded, flying, time-warping elf fetishist.

As in the story of our evolution, the big bang, stigmata and a thousand other things, we simply don’t need a supernatural, holy explanation of our behaviour at christmas time. We’re social, stressed animals who like to be nice to people if it’s not too much trouble. Christmas provides a space and time for us to be free of our normal worries to an extent.

That’s not to say I’m not a bit jealous of those for whom the day marks the anniversary of the birth of their personal saviour and forgiver of sins. But like a boy who sees his brother get a much better present, I’ll probably get over it.

Merry christmas, whether you believe in Santa or not.