By Bea Mahmood@BEA91XX
Everything about Christmas usually cheers me up. It's the time of year where everything is glittery, bright and colourful. To be honest, it's the most accurate reflection of the inside of my mind. But perhaps the most depressing thing I saw this year was a Christmas card the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) released. Usually Christmas cards are supposed to inject some festive spirit into your post box, but the MCB Christmas card - which had the words 'Don't panic, Christmas isn't banned!' proudly emblazoned on the front - just made me pretty sad.
It's a nice effort on the part of MCB. Admittedly, it is quite welcome after misguidedly thrown accusations of Muslims hating Christmas were being bandied about – particularly after thousands of Muslims gathered to protest against the sale of alcohol close to the holiday period. I picture the MCB releasing their Christmas card with a nervous giggle, as if to say 'we're not a bunch of grinches, carry on with your festivities!'
That is actually not far from the truth. The card was released with the following statement: 'Who wants to ban Christmas? Not Muslims. So put up the Christmas tree, prepare the roast, wrap the presents and spread the Yuletide joy.'
While it's a nice sentiment openly encouraging inter-cultural harmony, what is most depressing about the Christmas card is the fact that the MCB felt it necessary to release a statement refuting the ridiculous notion that any religion or culture wants to ban Christmas. Having said that, all the political correctness happening in the UK does seem to suggest that other cultures have a problem with Christmas being widely celebrated, or at least Muslims do.
With the introduction of neutral holiday decorations and the censorship of Christmas carols, it seems that Britain has lost its Christmas spirit in a bid to show deference to all cultures present in the UK. Even school nativity plays have suffered the political correctness contagion. End of term no longer signals the traditional story about Jesus, Joseph and Mary, but it is replaced with a concert or a historical play.
One reader of Entouraaj, a father of three, told us: ’My children who go different schools weren’t part of any nativity play. My son’s class did a performance about the Great Fire of London and my daughter was the Princess in a fairy-tale story at her school! Although we are not Christian, I really wouldn’t mind if my children performed in a nativity play. It’s important to learn about other religions. Surely it’s important to know what Christmas is about?’
It is important to learn where typical Christmas traditions come from, especially if people are blindly celebrating it during the festive period. In fact, it is perhaps more beneficial to educate people of what the true religious meaning of Christmas is because in reality, this has been lost in my opinion.
Really there are two versions of Christmas celebrated in Britain’s multicultural society. There is first and foremost the ‘religious Christmas’ celebrated by those for whom Christmas is a religious institution. But over the years Christmas has also evolved into a commercial holiday which is honoured by those who just need an excuse to watch Home Alone and eat a mince pie. So why should we censor the latter?
It may be worth considering what exactly is being censored. The materialistic and commercial nature of the holiday period is indication enough that Christmas has not maintained its religious significance. What’s the first thing you think of when you hear 'Christmas'? Santa, a Christmas tree, Rudolph? None of these things are a true representation of the religious aspect of Christmas. What need is there to then make this politically correct?
Celebrating Christmas in a religious sense isn’t being forced upon anyone. Learning about the religious aspects of Christmas isn’t forcing the religion on anybody either. The MCB’s Christmas card is proof in itself that multiculturalism is not responsible for banning Christmas but overzealous political correctness is. The Muslim Council of Britain have it right – everyone should enjoy the holiday and continue with their festivities because when is a time for celebration and goodwill not an all-inclusive activity?
Christmas is really just another way for everyone to celebrate. If anything, it is actually culturally inclusive. So on that note, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! (…without meaning to offend of course).