Aleeza Rasheed, '24
I used to tell people that the most interesting fact about me was that I have never, ever, celebrated Christmas. I would thrive in the spotlight after captivating my class’ attention every time I shared my “fun fact.” I’ve always embraced Islam as major facet of my unique identity. However, I’ve come to realize that when it comes to this holiday season, my family isn’t so unique at all. While our traditions aren’t conventional or standard, we never fail to recognize this season as one of joy and company.
To commence the holiday season, we embark on our annual neighborhood drive, slowly passing each house in the neighborhood and admiring their holiday decorations. Whether it’s candles lit in window sills illuminating a house’s exterior or a magnificent blow-up reindeer staked out in a front yard, we take the time to appreciate each and every home embellishment put up in light of the holidays. My grandfather has always been the greatest admirer of holiday lights in the family. Without exception, he manages to install some sort of festive decoration around his house every year. Whenever I see him, we always bond over our awe for the beautiful decorations we’ve seen.
My family even carries some of these holiday decorating traditions into our own holidays. Every Ramadan we pull out a plastic wreath, accessorized with glittery silver and gold paper stars and crescent moons, and we hang it on our front door. We string lines of small lanterns across every hallway and tie paper stars to every window facing the front of the house. These traditions fully encompass our love for the holiday season and our appreciation for our own Islamic holidays.
During the weeks surrounding Christmas, my family and I go on a skiing trip. Every year, we check off a new ski resort from our list. A typical Christmas day in our family feels like any other ordinary day, with the added bonus of being on winter break. We enjoy being in each others’ company and spend most of the day on new ski slopes. While Christmas or Hanukkah might not mark important holidays in our lives, my family and I never miss the chance to take advantage of everyone being off from school and work. We spend the holiday season appreciating the joy and company we share together.
The best part of my “fun fact,” as declared by my friends, is that in addition to not celebrating Christmas, I can never remember its actual date. I always falsely assume its date changes, like many Islamic holidays, as opposed to occurring on the same fixed date every year. Islam follows the lunar calendar, making all our holidays lie on the same date every lunar year but a different one every solar year. But now, after having lived through sixteen Christmases, I can confidently assure you that Christmas lies on December 25th every year…right?
Img credit: https://blog.contactpigeon.com/christmas-marketing-strategy/