The holiday season is upon us!
Christmas decorations have been gracing stores since late-September, while Christmas trees and snowflakes made an appearance in October. In the rush of all things red and green, Thanksgiving seemed to disappear. As I drive, I can see brightly-lit Christmas trees in windows, lights on houses, and signs advertising pictures with Santa.
Growing up as Muslims, we never took part in any of these traditions. According to Pope John Paul in 2004, the Christmas tree is a symbol of Christ.
However, it’s a very old, ancient custom that also symbolizes the value of life. The evergreen fir tree has been traditionally gracing homes for thousands of years in the winter, as it makes people think of the spring to come. But since anything resembling Christmas is frowned upon in our culture, I decided to go more “Winter” with my decorations this year. I put away all my red and green things, gave away the Christmas tree that I used for a little while (fulfilling my childhood dream), and conveniently “lost” the wreath.
I mean, yes, we don’t celebrate Christmas. But I see no reason why I can’t decorate for the season. After all, I have Fall and Spring decor as well! To fully winterize my home, I opted for the colors blue and silver, and splurged on a gorgeous wreath, in those colors, for our front door. Then, I placed blue and silver ornaments, and a smaller wreath on our mantle.
On the kitchen table, I have little snow covered trees, and a blue candle. And last but certainly not least, two little evergreen trees, lit up to add a bit of that magical sparkle, flank the fireplace. My daughter affectionately calls them, “snowflake trees.”
I’ve taught my daughter that since we are Muslims, we don’t celebrate Christmas. But we can still have fun. I can’t stop her from enjoying things at school, like singing Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and songs of that sort. Nor do I want to stop her. The biggest part of being a child is having fun. But I feel like I’ve taught her well. We don’t get gifts, but we love giving them to our friends who do celebrate. When I commented on a particularly decorative Christmas tree at the store, she said “Mama, we don’t celebrate Christmas, ok? But we can still have fun!”
We learn about so many cultures and religions as we grow up. In Islam, we are taught tolerance and respect for others and their traditions. As adults, we can indulge in the things we didn’t get to do as children. And while having a Christmas tree MIGHT be taking it too far for some (including me), I don’t judge other Muslims that want to partake in this festivity.
After all, to us, it’s just a tree.