“But Christmas is more than a religious event! It’s about family bonding. Everyone can celebrate it!”
This is what some people told me in response to my Why I Don’t Celebrate Christmas article. That article addressed the cultural appropriation issue of celebrating Christmas if you are of a different religion, and how it can disrespectful to Christians.
I neglected to mention that celebrating Christmas or telling me that I should celebrate Christmas is also disrespectful to me and my beliefs. As an atheist, I don’t really believe in much. No higher power, no angels, no devil, no afterlife. That’s my belief. Before I was Atheist (when I was Muslim), my beliefs still did not match up to those of Christianity. Holistically, sure: both religions share a belief in a higher power, afterlife, angels, and celestial magic. But religion is in the details.
Muslims don’t believe that Jesus is God; they believe that Allah is the highest power. Not “God.”
In middle school choir, I had to sing songs about “Jesus, our lord and savior.” Not Allah.
We chant the Pledge of Allegiance in the name of God. Not Allah.
Muslims don’t celebrate Christmas or Easter yet school holidays correspond to “Christmas break” and “Easter long weekend,” meanwhile if I took off for Eid, I still had to do my homework as it was unexcused absence.
Muslims don’t go to church. They go to the Masjid. Or the Mosque. But to many of my friends, these places are “Muslim churches.”
If I ever referred to a church as a “Christian Masjid,” I would probably get strange reactions.
These are just a few examples of mild reminders that we are in a Christian country, and we are either different or we are assimilators.
You could read a Bible in an airport, but if I ever pulled out the Quran (or “Muslim Bible”), I’d be watched.
You could learn about history in terms of your lord and savior (BC and AC), but what if I used BM and AM?
You could get asked ‘How was your Christmas?’ but no one would ever ask me ‘How was your Eid?’
These things get frustrating when people I assume that I want to assimilate.
A teacher once asked me “So do your parents not let you celebrate Christmas?”
“What no, I don’t want to celebrate Christmas.”
“That’s really sad, maybe I will get you a Christmas present,” she replied.
Just a thought, but what do you think people would say if I asked them if they celebrate Eid and responded with ‘How sad’ when they say no? I appreciate the gesture of getting me a Christmas gift, but no.
What do you think people would say if I asked why they don’t wear hijabs?
What if I commented on how sad it is that they don’t fast during Ramadan?
What if I commented on how ‘ignorant’ they are because they don’t know the name of a single Muslim prophet? (But I’m expected to know the life story of Jesus.)
So while yes, I ‘abstain’ from Christmas because I find it appropriating, I also don’t feel the need to engage in it. Though Christmas movies are heart warming and snow globes are adorable, I promise I don’t feel like I am missing out-- I swear on the Christian Quran.