How To Celebrate Christmas as a Muslim
In this post in my series entitled, Real Talk we discuss celebrating Christmas as a Muslim.
As a child, we were very disappointed we never had a Christmas tree but my parents gave us stationary as presents on Christmas day one year….(hey it was rural Ireland in the 90’s!) because we wanted to be included and to shut us up!
When I was a teenager, my siblings and I looked forward to the Christmas movies (Home Alone was our favourite) as well as all the movies that were shown on TV that we never got to see at the cinema were finally released (this was WAY before Netflix, Sky etc).
Christmas was a time that meant we got holidays from school, Madarsah and spent time as a family huddled in front of the TV watching marathon after marathon of movies and stopping when my mum got tired of us hogging the TV.
Can you tell we didn’t get out much?
As I grew older, Christmas was marked with the obligation to send cards and chocolates to the neighbours as they did for us even when they knew we didn’t celebrate but always gave us good chocolates which we ate immediately before they were re-gifted!
I remember one memorable year when it snowed so much, we literally trekked to all the neighbours to deliver their bounty (don’t worry, we did the same in Ramadan and Eid minus the snow).
For me personally, Christmas is a great way to get time off work, if you’re lucky enough, and spend time with family eating way too much and watching lots of TV.
People may not agree with me, but I do find that wishing someone Merry Christmas is not going to invalidate my Muslim-ness.
Giving my neighbours cards is, in my opinion, going to strengthen bonds of friendship.
What I don’t agree with personally is Muslims getting Christmas trees and giving presents to each other.
It may seem like a commercial holiday and to an extent it is, but encouraging these sorts of activities means that we lose the essence of ourselves by celebrating another religions customs which are not our own.
I get that especially for parents it’s easy to give in to it, but it really doesn’t help in the long run.
We don’t get a special holiday for Eid, we actually have to fight for time off in this country to go to Eid prayers or take kids out of school to make it special.
I understand that when it’s constantly around especially at this time of year, you will be expected to give answers.
As the child of Pakistani parents growing up in rural Catholic Ireland in the 90’s, my parents explained what Christmas was, that we were to be respectful but that at the end of the day we were Muslim and this was not part of our custom or religion, and at the end of the day we accepted it (very reluctantly).
Being an adult now, I am glad they didn’t give in to our demands. It made me appreciate our own Holidays much more, and having witnessed Eid in Pakistan as a child we are SO missing out because it is epic!
Plus all the Eid money is awesome haha!
What I do find encouraging is that people are more respectful and celebrate all religions now from Eid, Diwali to Christmas the fact that all of us that are OTHER is finally getting recognised. This didn’t happen in my day (I’m getting old now I’ve started using that saying!).
I have no idea if I will change once we have children In Shaa Allah (God Willing) but I would like to think I would continue to be respectful whilst also encouraging them to understand that whilst it’s nice to have time off, the festive period is about reflection, spending time with family and giving to others.