By Divine Hanna
Lines of children wait their turn for Santa Claus at the mall. Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” blasts on the radio. Families hang stockings by the fireplace. Fully decked-out, star-topped Christmas trees are found at every corner.
While the holiday season encompasses several different holidays including Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Ōmisoka, it is Christmas that is visible everywhere we go. Sure, there may be a miniature dreidel or menorah decor next to a large Christmas tree, but no holiday is as widely celebrated as Christmas. It is almost as if we cannot escape this festivity, even if it isn’t what some celebrate.
Celebrating the birth of Christ, Christians spend the Christmas season with loved ones, baking, giving gifts, decorating their homes, and for some, praying or going to church. However, it is more common now for people to celebrate Christmas without the religious element. Christmas has lost its emphasis on Christ. Rather, gift-giving and spreading holiday cheer are now the main reasons for celebrating this holiday. What started out as a religious celebration has slowly morphed into this holiday with no religious meaning.
Christmas has gained so much popularity among Americans, especially, that it has lost its exclusivity to Christians. Even many atheists celebrate this festival and disregard the religious aspects. There are other religions who incorporate elements of Christmas into their other holidays, such as creating a Hanukkah tree decorated in blue and white.
However, some feel excluded during this time, not seeing any representation of their community when their religious celebrations come around.
“Being something other than Christian during Christmas is a struggle,” senior Tehami Syed said.
“I say that because, as a Muslim, I am expected to strictly celebrate Muslim holidays and that excludes me from celebrating Christmas events, such as getting a tree, or opening presents. I do feel left out. In comparison to Christmas, Islamic holidays get almost zero representation. A lot of schools get some type of break for Christmas, but where is the break for Eid? Where is the break for Ramadan? Muslims don’t get as much representation and aren’t getting recognized compared to Christian holidays.”
Society has become more inclusive, however, though there is still much room for growth. Instead of saying “Merry Christmas,” for example, it is more socially acceptable to wish someone “Happy Holidays.” Christmas songs such as “Last Christmas” by Wham! or “Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley are often exchanged for holiday-neutral tunes such as “Deck the Halls” or “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” Although these changes are minor, they do play a role in making this winter season enjoyable for people of all religious backgrounds.
Although people can celebrate the season in whatever way that brings them joy, it is not right to enforce this holiday’s traditions and rituals on everyone.
We need to remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas, nor wants to. There are other traditions that are equally valuable and interesting.