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Friday, December 15, 2006
Muslim Christmases
I used to celebrate Christmas with a fervor that would put Santa Claus to shame. My house was always the prettiest on the block, my Christmas tree was always decked to the halls, and the gifts I would give people always the most unique.

It drove some of my family crazy.

"We're Muslim!! We don't celebrate this!! What you're doing is blasphemy!"

One of my cousins actually tried to take down my tree when he came over one day. When he realized that I was going to beat him to the ground if he did, he started on about how having a tree nullifies not only my Islam, but the Islam of anyone in the house. "I cannot stay in this house with this tree". I responded by turning on the lights and putting on religious Christmas tunes. When he heard "Christ the Savior is born" he just walked out of the house.

My mother had never been happier! I managed to single handedly get rid of an idiot that she'd been trying to get rid of for years!! "Everyday should be Christmas!"

My father felt bad so he went after my cousin and told him to stop being stupid. "Ya A, eh el moshkela? (What's the problem?) Don't we believe in Jesus? Didn't Jesus have to be born? What's so wrong about celebrating the day he was born? It doesn't mean that we believe in the entire Christian theology. Don't be stupid, come back."

"You're not a Muslim if you think like this! What you're doing is haram!"

My father is not big on people judging him. He wasn't going to continue a conversation with this man, so he turned around and just walked back home. When he came into the house he told me not to be upset (I wasn't) and that I could celebrate Christmas as long as I wanted to (I would).

We left Egypt for Germany when I was around four. Christmas is one of the only holidays that I remember from Germany. Every year my parents got my brother and I a Christmas tree and would fill it with as many presents as they could. We were quite poor, so the presents always consisted of things my mother would make herself which made the whole day so much more special. She would also take my brother and I out on the lantern walk...I can't for the life of me remember what it was called. (Anyone living in Germany, help me with this!!)

When we moved to America we continued our Christmas traditions. My father's sister, who had been living in America for over twenty years, always created lavish meals for Christmas.

These "Muslim" Christmases have always managed to confuse the people around us. When I first met the boyfriend, he had no idea what to make of my Christmas spirit. I had just shattered all his beliefs about Muslims. I was not a veiled woman, I traveled extensively without having a guardian, I wore bathing suits to the beach, and I celebrated Christmas. Just the other day he asked me if it's okay to send a Christmas card to someone who doesn't celebrate Christmas.

I've never seen how celebrating Christmas if you're a Muslim is so horrible. And I understand that the way I celebrate Christmas is not the same as a Christian celebrating Christmas. It's not as holy for me as it would be to the boyfriend, for example, but it's just as special. Maybe it's special for me because of that traditions my parents created for my brother and I. Maybe it's special because I like pretty things and cities during Christmas are beautiful. Or maybe it's because I love giving. I love making people happy and Christmas gives me the opportunity to create things for people to put a smile on their face.

Whatever it is, Christmas is beautiful. In the previous post, someone left a comment asking if American Muslims celebrate Christmas and I'd love to know what you guys do. Do American Muslims (or British Muslims, Western Muslims) celebrate Christmas or am I an anomaly?

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Thoughts shared by Carmen at 9:44 AM
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Who: Carmen

Mini-Bio:
xx-something egyptia-yorker who's spent over half her life stuck in two worlds not of her own making. unable and unwilling to fully embrace one identity over the other, she created (is trying to create) her own place in the world where people love each other unconditionally, irrespective of artificial boundaries, and where dancing merengue is as necessary to life as breathing air.

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