The atmosphere, the sudden rise in cheerful moods (apart from the scrooges) and chilly weather all encompass to me that special time of year that so many people sing and dance about. Not to mention maxing out their credit cards for of course, Christmas.
I have in fact, never celebrated Christmas. My family and I are Muslims and thus what I used to use as an analogy when I was younger was that, “your Christmas is my Eid!” The confusing looks I’d receive from other children when Eid would land a week before Christmas due to the lunar calendar Islam is based on. They thought I was cheating celebrating twice.
My Christmas days consisted of me trying to find something to do: my whole family in the same predicament. “I’m bored” my youngest brother would exclaim. But there was nothing we could do but watch whatever film was being showcased that particular year and watch as my phone vibrated into oblivion from all the “I know you don’t celebrate Christmas but Happy Christmas anyway” texts.
It is now, however, nice to be surrounded by the warm atmosphere created from the sadly, very economical reasons that Christmas has become more and more found upon in the west. For example; many of my native Spanish and French friends can’t remember a Christmas where they didn’t go to mass in the morning. The chance of hearing this here, however, is limited.
I mention this solely because for the celebration of both Eid-al-adha (celebrating the start of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca) and Eid-al-fitr (post Ramadan); it is not Eid, without visiting the Mosque. It is engraved in my memory and it wouldn’t feel like Eid if I didn’t go and see everyone else celebrating; with the difference being that everyone in the Mosque here are not just family, but also friends, all under one roof.
Significantly, the story of the birth of Christ is actually related in the Qur’an. Muslims are not completely blind to the celebration and of course, many predominantly Muslim countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa will have minorities celebrating Christmas.
Obviously, the notion of giving and receiving presents in the nature of good will is a very open-handed gesture. I have most years taken part in secret santa’s and bought close friends gifts. And I wouldn’t miss the Manchester Christmas Markets if you’d offered me top editorial position at the Mancunion (well, perhaps).
Eat, be merry and immerse yourself in the multi-cultural and religious society we live in.
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