„Mom! Santa really exists! REALLY! And he even has a sleigh and if I clean my boots, he will even put chocolate inside them. Yes, mom, , really!”
Oooookay! Alright, Vanessa, it’s happening now. The moment you have been waiting for for so many years is finally here to give the perfect answer you have been preparing for. You have prepared yourself with a hundred arguments and you are ready to take on a verbal fight. ? “Look, my dear […]” 😉
“Look, my dear […]”
That is how my sentence started. You don’t want to know how the dialogue continued since there is an itsy-bitsy but very crucial fallacy in my in fact all-so-beautifully sophisticated plan.
Never ever ever ever discuss something with a four-year old! Especially, not if he or she is ABSOLUTELY confident about something they are truly sure about.
This was a short moment of my conversation from yesterday with Mr. Milkbeard. Just a general explanation: We did not clean any boots, there was no chocolate and we agreed that Santa Claus only visits Christian families. Not the Muslim families because that would be unfair since we already get a lot of presents for the Ramadan celebration (Eid al Fitr) and Festival of Sacrifice (Eid al Adha).
Of course, that is a compromise. An explanation that currently is sufficient for his understanding as a child and can be elaborated later on, depending on the age.
Just a few words in advance
I would like to anticipate that our attitude towards the topic Christmas should not be interpreted as an obligation for every Muslim. I don’t want to restrict, lecture or even condemn anyone in their actions. I solely just want to show what kind of interaction we have when it comes to this topic and how we have arranged ourselves within an inter-religious family by giving everyone a fair share.
Do Muslims celebrate Christmas?
Christmas is not an Islamic holiday and, therefore, has no place in the Islamic year. Nevertheless, and only a small minority of non-Muslims know this, that Jesus also plays an essential role in Islam. He is the son of Mary, who gave birth to him as a virgin, one of the most important prophets of Islam. Based on this background, he is perceived as one of the three messengers along with Moses and Muhammad, who also received a holy scripture from God. However, differences are made regarding the aspect of awarding the divinity. Islam does not perceive Jesus as the Son of God, but rather as one of God’s chosen people – a Prophet. From an Islamic perspective, there is no reason to celebrate his birthday which is considered to be what Christmas symbolizes.
Nevertheless, there may be people with an Islamic religious affiliation, who celebrate Christmas. There are many possible reasons for this. It could be due to a cultural sense of belonging, an inter-religious perspective or just out of the joy of celebrating festivities. At this point, however, it is important to not mix the two. Since one of them is the religious foundation, while the other is action-based. At the same time, they should not be viewed as symbolic for each other.
Christmas at the Date-berry’sHouse
When you come to our place, there is neither an Advent calendar, Christmas tree nor any other Christmas decorations in our apartment. For religious reasons, there is no foundation for me to integrate Christmas or the pre-Christmas preparations into our everyday family life. Of course, we make all the changes that come along with it a subject of discussion because it attracts Mr. Milkbeard’s attention outside of our four walls. This refers to many things, such as the light chains from the neighbors, the stunning pine tree arrangements and colorful ornament balls in the department store, the Christmas market or even St. Nicholaus day. All of these things happen around him and can’t be ignored but certainly need some explanations. And let’s be honest! A Christmas tree completely decorated with tinsel simply looks beautiful. You can’t hold anything against that. Nevertheless, I always clearly state that even though I think it is all very beautiful, we as Muslims still have other festivities and decorations As of right now, that works pretty well.
Now we are reaching a point that has contributed to one of the reasons why I started this website dattelbeere (date-berry) in the first place. Since I was searching for a very long time myself. In the German-speaking regions there are simply very few services that aim to bring children closer to the Islamic religious practice. In particular, in a way that fits into our cultural framework. Instead we need to create a balance for our children and make the Ramadan celebration (Eid al Fitr) and Festival of Sacrifice (Eid al Adha) seem to be as magnificent as Christmas and Easter. This does not mean that I want to provoke consumer-oriented Islamic holidays. On the contrary!
For my family, and with that I mean my parents & co. who aren’t Muslims but Catholic Christians,Christmas for them is, of course, the highlight of the year. At this point, I’m making a distinction when it comes to celebrating Christmas, because for me it is self-evident that I visit my parents during the Christmas holidays, celebrate with them and be their guests. This is how we spend an incredibly nice family time together, which I would not like to miss out on. I know that there are many Muslims who strictly refuse to attend a Christmas celebration or even say “Merry Christmas” to those who celebrate it. I fully accept this kind of perspective, but I also think it is more beneficial for our multi-religious coexistence to approach each other instead of turning away from each other.
Learning to differentiate
I think it is incredibly important that my children know the other end of their roots. That they know that Christmas is an important day for Grandma and Grandpa and that we keep them company during this time. For me it’s a way of appreciating the people I love.
Above all, they should learn to differentiate. This is only possible if I promote inter-religiousness and teach them to respectfully deal with every religious holiday. I cannot forbid them to spend Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa in the hope that they will never celebrate Christmas as adults. The only thing I can do is show them and explain to them why we have chosen a different religion, a different life path. My aim is to pass on as much knowledge to them as possible, which, in combination with their capability to differentiate circumstances, may help them in the future to take the path that God has chosen for them with confidence.
We certainly will still have some hurdles to overcomeand the initial dialogue on the REAL existence of Santa Claus is likely to be extended in the coming years and take on other dimensions, but I feel well prepared. The reason behind this is that I believe that children feel if an adult is convinced about what they are doing. And this is true in my case. Much more so ever since I have children.
Why not write down here in the comments how you deal with the topic Christmas. Regardless if you also come from an inter-religious family, because we are all some how and, in some way, confronted with it. I’m really interested in reading your responses because it’s such an exciting topic to talk about.
I wish you a blessed Friday and a good start into the weekend!
Salam and kind regards