It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It’s very amusing to hear people discuss Muslims in regards to Christmas. When we were all parting with our students for the winter break, it was common to wish the students Merry Christmas without thinking, then get a cheery Merry Christmas back. Or for students to wish us a Merry Christmas first. (Many of our students are Christian, actually. But I’m speaking to the Muslim ones here.) And for some reason, the Westerners were absolutely shocked that Muslims would even acknowledge a holiday of another religion.

A reaction that I find highly amusing.

Partly because I’ve said “Happy Hanukkah” to countless Jews without feeling any less Christian. Really, it’s so ridiculous that people are forced to say “Happy Holidays!” in an effort to acknowledge all holidays of winter-time and not offend any religious minority that might exist two hundred miles away. Christmas is not a particularly religious holiday at this point, and it dominates mainstream culture, so why can’t we all just celebrate consumerism and accept that it’s non-religious? “Merry Christmas!” means “Yay decorations and feasts and movies and vacation days! And double yay presents!”

“But we go to church!” everyone cries. To which I reply, “Yes dear, you go to church this one time out of the year. To enjoy the songs and the decorations. That’s totally a religious experience.”

From my window, I can see the mosque. Every single day, five times a day, it fills up with people performing their prayers. There are no hymns or presents or festive lights. There is just prayer. From my days on my American couch, I could see my American-broadcast television. Every single day, countless times a day, it would fill up with advertisements using Christmas to hawk products. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to church and felt all the feels that it can inspire. Then I walked out the door, wondered what I’m having for dinner, and didn’t think about God for the next seven months. So when people tell me that Christmas is a religious holiday because they go to church, I just smile and nod like that totally makes sense.

But, come on!

In honor of Christmas, we found a Christmas tree, put it up and put some presents under it. We also put some lights on a cactus in our foyer. Because we’re religious like that. I hope you are all enjoying the Christmas season!

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6 Responses to It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

  1. Georgia Kate says:

    Man, this post is perfection.

    I live in the UK, which isn’t as extremely religious Christianity-wise as the USA. To be honest I don’t really feel at all here that anyone celebrates it because they’re very religious, although there will be those that do, and do believe in the Bible and such.

    Personally — and this will sound awful — I often forget it even is a Christian thing, because as you say, it’s just consumerism now.

    Take care! xx

  2. eemusings says:

    Hmm. Fascinating. That wouldn’t even cross my mind! NZ is pretty freaking non-religious, and Christmas is totally consumerist here too.

  3. Liv says:

    I am not Christian but I went to Church most of summer and only stopped now because my Sundays got filled with other stuff now that it’s the school year. I also have a Christmas tree up with fake presents, and colorful lights on our door frame. However, we didn’t put up any lights outside our house like most Americans do because none of my neighbors ever do and we didn’t want to stand out in the darkness of the night. I am guessing my neighborhood is Jewish, but I’m not understanding why they cannot put sparkly lights up. When did lights become religious?

    I usually say Happy Holidays because people are easily offended and I don’t want to deal with hissy fits, but you’re right it’s ridiculous. My friends say Merry Christmas to me and they know I am not Christian. In fact my Australian friend says Happy Australia Day to me every year and I have no problem with it.

    I am surprised that Muslims would acknowledge Christmas though, since my Jewish neighbors obviously don’t. I used to have a Muslim best friend and she always said “I don’t celebrate Christmas” in a way that sounds like she hates the existence of Christmas. None of my business but I don’t understand why she has to act like she’s against the world when it comes to Christmas.

  4. Chantelle says:

    If it’s Christmas, I will say, “Merry Christmas.” But if it’s not and I want to wish everyone a happy everything, I don’t feel like saying “Merry Christmas & Happy New Year & …” so I just say, “Happy Holidays.” I’m Christian, but Christmas (the Santa Claus-Christmas tree part of Christmas) isn’t Christian at all just like you said, but… I think people make a big deal out of nothing with the Happy Holidays things. Saying Merry Christmas is fine. Most don’t even care. It’s a fake controversy. Unless someone is doing something stupid and ignorant like wishing “Merry Christmas” to an obviously Jewish person during Hanukkah, it’s not a big deal.

    Also, a lot Christians (hardcore ones) I know DO NOT celebrate Christmas aside from Jesus’ birth because it’s got too much consumerism/weird stuff associated with it. They don’t do Santa Claus, Christmas trees, or decorations.

  5. Aussa Lorens says:

    Merry (belated) Christmas to you as well! It’s very true… we should be capable of wishing each other a happy holiday of whatever we are celebrating at the time.

  6. Stephanie says:

    I have Christian friends who actually do go to Church every week, read the Bible every day, and think about God all the time. They would say that all the people who only think about God this one time of the year are not Christian and that their souls probably won’t be saved. I disagree with them, and think that their opinion is more offensive than saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays”. I’m pretty sure that people who get offended are just dicks anyways.

    Also, I’m a Buddhist who celebrates Christmas; my religion has no holidays. Nothing wrong with extra cheer!

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