After all, Barack Obama said it all the time!
There are over 1 billion Muslims in the world. I represent less than 1/1 billionth of them. Your mileage with my advice will vary.
I just heard an NPR special discussing how immigrants of non-Christian backgrounds handle Christmas. The decision over whether to have a Christmas tree is apparently an existential identity crisis. People of Muslim, Hindu, and Jewish background were grappling with whether they should celebrate the holiday, despite not having a vested interest in the religious significance of the holiday.
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Of course, the fact that it is not approached as a religious holiday by many is why the discussion exists. Easter, Chanukah, Eid — these are not viewed the same way as Christmas.
Many non-Christians, including Muslims, choose to get a tree because they view it as a cultural celebration open to all. Others did not want to get a tree because they thought that it may offend Christians — presumably because they would be viewed as “appropriating” their religion (in the same way white kids apparently can’t dress up like anyone from another culture because it’s “cultural appropriation.”)
I also ran across an article discussing how a well known boxer is receiving hate messages and death threats because of his Christmas tree. This boxer is Muslim, and apparently some Muslims take offense to Muslims being connected to religious holidays.
Easiest Decision I Ever Made
As I’ve mentioned before, we did not celebrate Christmas growing up. We never even discussed whether we should celebrate it, and it never occurred to me that we should celebrate it. I did occasionally show up at a friend’s house in high school and help decorate a tree, but that was the extent of it. While Islam is an Abrahamic religion that celebrates Christ, Christmas is not a holiday to which I felt a connection.
As I married a Christian, the decision about celebrating Christmas and having a tree going forward was made easy.
It’s a part of my wife’s background and tradition, so we celebrate it. Not only does Santa visit our kids, so does an elf named Holly. Holly is a lot of trouble — I’m thankful she leaves for the North Pole tonight.
In the past I would have said that had I married a Muslim, it’s doubtful I would celebrate Christmas, and assumed it was the same for other families as it was for me growing up. However I’ve been surprised to learn how many Muslims in America celebrate Christmas in some form.
However as more Muslims grow up in the United States and marry other Muslims, as well as people from other backgrounds grow up here and marry people from here, I think it makes sense.
Christmas in the US is as much a cultural institution as a religious celebration. The way it is celebrated in America allows it to belong to all Americans. I benefit from Black Friday sales and Pumpkin Spice Latte’s the same as everyone else. My 8 year old is on winter break, aka Christmas vacation (what we used to call it when I was a kid).
So if you see me, go ahead and say Merry Christmas. And if you want to wish me a Happy Chanukah, go ahead. I’ll spin a dradle with you too. Also I’ll hope the haters out there don’t discover my blog and the picture of our tree.