Oh my goodness, I am writing this in early November and I can already feel the drama welling up from here.
But it is getting to be that time of the year again…
Time for the Christmas Controversy.
But seriously, I have found there to be such a vehement divide in the community on the topic of celebrating Christmas, and for me as a convert with an American Christian background, it has been a particularly tricky thing to navigate.
On the one side, some vehemently denounce Christmas, on the basis that it was originally a pagan holiday and it is not appropriate for a Muslim to celebrate a pagan holiday, and then it was a Christian holiday and it isn’t befitting for a Muslim to celebrate that either, and now it is a holiday steeped in Western culture and capitalism, which are both evil so we can’t celebrate that either.
So basically if you happen to enjoy the sight of a decorated tree in whatever Western country you live in or you really like yourself a cup of peppermint hot cocoa in the December cold, you are imitating the “disbelievers” and are probably headed straight to hell-fire.
On the other, more laissez-faire side of the debate, we find the “heck yeah, bring on some nativity, let’s do Christmas” bunch.
I know you are wondering…so which side do you pick then?
And as always, I will tell you—neither.
I tend to prefer a bit more nuance in any argument than many of these types of debates allow for.
I myself do celebrate Christmas, but in a very specific way and with a very specific reason
Yes, I do enjoy the peppermint flavoured everything and the general ambience at this time of year.
But no, I don’t keep a Douglas Fir tree or any lights at home, I don’t exchange gifts with my husband or any friends, I don’t put on Christmas movies or music in my own house.
How I do celebrate, however, is the same way my family has been celebrating since I was born.
I wake my sister up early on Christmas morning to spend some quality, argument-free time together. I do still open the gifts that my mother will inevitable get me, and I give my family small gifts as well.
I still go to my grandpa’s house and enjoy time with my family, talking and laughing and eating too many cookies.
I still enjoy a big turkey dinner, minus any alcohol or gelatin.
Why do I still do all of these things when none of them have anything to do with Islam?
One reason, which has everything to do with Islam: my mama.
The holidays are one of her most cherished family traditions, and I know how much she misses me and how sad she is when I am not around to celebrate with her. It has been a rough couple of years for the family, with a few deaths of people close to us and others moving away, and it is getting particularly lonely for my mom around the holidays; I am not about to make that worse for her.
In fact, it is my duty as a Muslim woman to do what I can to make it better for her.
So I celebrate with my family. I don’t believe that this was the day that Jesus (as) was born, nor do I have any intention other than upholding my family ties.
In that same interest I am also trying to forge some new family traditions, by including my family in our Eid celebrations, buying gifts, sending cards, and all that as well.
Do drop me a comment and let me know where y’all fall on the Christmas Controversy, and how easy/difficult it has been blending old cultural and family holiday traditions with new Islamic ones; as always I love to hear from y’all!