I found this article written by an atheist to be very thought provoking. Yes, he makes the dreaded "conservative Protestants" mistake, so skip it if that will upset you. There are conservative non-Catholics who observe Advent and Lent, and conservative non-Catholics who feel that Christmas and Easter are pagan and don't celebrate them at all. Regardless of that, I feel he makes a good point that without the liturgical year, the celebration of Christmas loses its context.
Conservative Christians complain about secularists, atheists, and liberals trying to undermine Christmas, but there is little historical understanding and awareness in these complaints. An examination of Christian history indicates that religion has been slowly stripped from Christmas, as well as other Christian holidays, over a long time now — and by Christians themselves, primarily the conservative Protestants who are today complaining the loudest. . .
The religious holidays of November and December were designed to help Christians contemplate death and judgment; this, in turn, was supposed to help prepare Christians for the Christmas season when they were supposed to contemplate Jesus, salvation, and heaven. Traditionally, the Christmas “season” actually lasted through February 2nd, when Christians celebrated the Feast of the Presentation at the Temple and the Purification of the Virgin.
Gift giving occurred throughout January, but most intensely during the “12 days of Christmas,” which were the days between Christ’s Mass and the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6. Yes, it all happened after Christmas day. Today, celebrations of Christmas occur before or on the actual day; afterward, the season is over except for the New Year celebrations which are devoid of any Christian meaning or tradition.Once the religious elements were stripped from November and December generally, thus taking away practically the entire liturgical calendar, killing the religious elements of Christmas day was the logical conclusion. Protestants helped here as well by eliminating mass on this date.