Surveys indicate that nearly 15 percent of Americans embrace "no religion." Within this category -- usually called "the seculars" -- are millions of atheists, freethinkers, humanists, and others, according to American Atheists, an educational organization of atheists.
In December, when most Americans celebrate Christmas, many nonbelievers celebrate Winter Solstice -- that time of year when the sun reaches its lowest point in the annual journey across the sky as seen from the Northern Hemisphere. The 2009 Solstice occurs on December 21.
The late Madalyn Murray O'Hair -- founder of American Atheists -- called for the recognition of Solstice and Equinox as "natural holidays" uniting all of humanity, as an alternative to the various religious celebrations of competing faiths. Needless to say, this idea was never approved.
On the other hand, O'Hair was successful in her effort to weaken the impact of public prayer in America, as she was able to convince the U.S. Supreme Court in 1963 to rule that prayer in American public schools is unconstitutional.