Many of us heathens who like to celebrate secular Christmas also like to make it clear to any onlookers that we aren't necessarily part of the eighty-some percent who are celebrating the birth of their god. One way to do this is with unconventional takes on the good ol' Tannenbaum that emphasize secular values.
Atheist activist Margaret Downey started an annual tradition of getting a "Tree of Knowledge" (an evergreen tree decorated with books by freethinkers) erected at the Chester County Courthouse in Pennsylvania, alongside religious displays. Here's a link to a video of Margaret speaking at a rally for the Tree of Knowledge in 2010. The ideas has caught on with some others. The photo here is of the Tree of Knowledge displayed this year at the Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia.
For those who desire more ideas in-line with the heavy-handed approach to asserting one's atheism during the holiday season, here are some ideas posted on Friendly Atheist: How To Decorate Your Tree Like A Good Atheist.
Of course there are other, secular deviations from the traditional tree. One idea that has some things in common with the Tree of Knowledge, and has caught some traction on the Internet is simply creating a whole tree out of books. Yes, books and Christmas trees can be mashed together for more than a public, political statement. It can also just be a really nerdy (but awesome!) way to decorate for the holiday season! As you can check out on The Mary Sue, there are many more ways to do this than just the way featured in this photo.
Speaking of nerdy takes on the Christmas tree, fans of science fiction will love this idea of festively decorated Dalek. Yes, nothing says peace on earth and good will toward men better than transforming a supreme villain bent on exterminating all other life in the universe into a tacky, livingroom centerpiece.
Another option that really brings together the old and new is the alcohol tree. You see, before Christmas was a family holiday centered around bringing joy to children, it was a holiday for drunken revelry by adults. (But don't just take my word for it.) So why not a tree made entirely of wine bottles? The Genesee Brewing Co. has really gotten into the old-fashioned holiday spirit this year with a tree made out of 300 kegs of beer.
Of course if one doesn't want to celebrate debauchery or be cynical about the whole thing, there's always the option of celebrating the natural world. Buy a potted tree or decorate one growing out in the yard, and decorate it with beautiful objects found in nature - driftwood, pine cones, shells, etc. Here's one I saw like that at a local nature center.
Another option in-line with expressing love for nature and secular humanist values? Do the recycling thing. Here's a tree made of recycled spoons, and another with recycled cans.
Maybe we can combine all these ideas into one glorious secular Christmas tree masterpiece: a thirty-foot tree made of recycled beer cans, decorated with literary ornaments, appearing to be devoured by a giant Cthulhu tree topper!
Who am I kidding? Can't top the butt plug tree.