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!