I was in a nostalgic mood this morning so I put on some Christmas music and warmed some cinnamon on the stove. I haven’t celebrated Christmas or any other traditional American holiday for more than 14 years. Most Muslims know that celebrating any holiday outside of Eid is forbidden although many do it anyway. When I apostated I had to decide what I would do about the holiday issue.
After some research I decided that I would celebrate Christmas and other holidays if I wanted and that there was no real harm. I came to this decision because the history of Christmas started out as a pagan ritual and had nothing to do with Christ until Christians co-opted the holiday and made it about Christ’s mass. Contrary to popular belief, Jesus was not originally “the reason for the season”. Christmas started out as celebration of the winter harvest and change of seasons which was a time of decorating trees, gift giving, community, wreath hanging, and food. There may also be some superstition about the wreath preventing demons from coming into one’s house(soot/coal in the stocking), I don’t remember.
If anything, Christians were forbidden in the Bible from decorating trees:
“This is what the LORD says: “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them. For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.” Jeremiah 10:2-4
As with all religions, Christianity has a military arm that demands that all former holidays are no longer celebrated or the previous celebrations of a society are combined with the religion to create a new hybrid. One such case is the celebration of Ati Atihan, in honoor of the Santo Nino(infant Jesus). This festival did not start out celebrating Jesus and had absolutely nothing to do with him. The history of this ritual was related to one tribal group showing thanks to another tribal group. Once Christian Spaniards landed on their island they convinced the native people to make their ritual about the celebration of Jesus instead of the original Ati people. Thus parts of pagan ritual were replaced with bits of Christianity to create the hybrid festival that is practiced today. It is what happened with Christmas and more than likely countless pagan festivals the world over as various religious groups attacked and conquered different societies.
How Islam differs is that Muhammad demanded in his new religion that all festivals, celebrations, and holidays be cancelled out and the only holidays allowed are the boring ass Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha otherwise known as little eid and big eid. Some Shias celebrate the prophet’s birthday and sufis are in a whole world of their own but that’s about it. In recent years, convert muslims have tried to make the eids a little more exciting and more interesting than an eid prayer and then going home. Even with the addition of wearing bright clothes and exchanging gifts, the eids never had the same oomph as Christmas and other holidays. I guess because there is no singing, caroling, dancing, or mingling that cause the eids to be devoid of jolly and jovial nature.
One exception that I did have was that I threw small birthday parties for my kids(much to their father’s dismay). I wanted them to have the experience that had been denied to themm because of retarded religious beliefs. I didn’t want them to grow up stunted about participating in various holidays so long as they understand the reason behind it. I have discussed this with my children and let them know that they will have to decide how they want to handle each celebration but that they don’t have to view them as only one is correct and that they will be cursed by a non-existent Allah/God of they choose to or not to.
If the funds permit, I will probably purchase a big ol’ Christmas tree and err’thang next year. It is a time of family, community, and friends and one that can be celebrated without the huffing and puffing from Jews, Christians, and Muslims as they howl about their respective prophets and how they should be worshipped instead. Or I may not buy anything and just chill. That is the beauty and another fringe benefit of my apostasy: free to do it or free to not do it.