By Liz Todd
Author and scientist Richard Dawkins has admitted he loves Christmas carols - and celebrates Christmas every year with his family
Scientist and atheist Richard Dawkins has admitted he does celebrate Christmas - and enjoys singing traditional Christmas carols each festive season.
The writer and evolutionary biologist told singer Jarvis Cocker that he happily wishes everyone a Merry Christmas - and used to have a tree when his daughter was younger.
Dawkins, one of the most famous atheists in the world, was interviewed by Sheffield born Cocker when he stepped in as a Christmas guest editor on Radio Four's Today programme.
'I am perfectly happy on Christmas day to say Merry Christmas to everybody,' Dawkins said. 'I might sing Christmas carols - once I was privileged to be invited to Kings College, Cambridge, for their Christmas carols and loved it.
'I actually love most of the genuine Christmas carols. I can't bear Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and you might think from that that I was religious, that I can't bear the ones that make no mention of religion. But I just think they are dreadful tunes and even more dreadful words. I like the traditional Christmas carols.'
Cocker, the former frontman for Britpop band Pulp, said he was also a fan of Christmas traditions.
'I am the same in a way,' he told Dawkins. 'I really like the kind of peripheral things about Christmas. I like the smell of tangerines and the smell of the tree and to pull crackers.'
Dawkins said his family had a typical Christmas celebration each year like so many others.
'We are not kill joys, we are not scrooges,' he said. 'We give each other presents and when my daughter was a bit younger we would have a tree. We don't now.
'We go to my sister's house for Christmas lunch which is a lovely big family occasion. Everybody thoroughly enjoys it. No church of course.
Dawkins, who pulled a cracker with Cocker on Tuesday's Today programme, said he drew the line at dressing up as Father Christmas.
And he said even as a child his questioning mind made him unpopular with other parents.
'My very first Christmas, maybe my second Christmas, there was a man called Sam who apparently dressed up as Father Christmas,' he said. 'All the children loved it, all completely fooled by Father Christmas being there.'Eventually he said: 'Ho ho ho, it's time for me to go,' back to Greenland or wherever he comes from, so he left. Then I, the youngest of all of them, said: 'Sam's gone' and completely gave the game away to all the other children.'