Christmas has always been my favourite holiday. The sounds of christmas carols, the pretty lights in the malls, the smell of fresh pine trees, the sinterklaas and swartepiets, the cookies, the christmas trees, the rains and cold weather, and a lot of other things that I can only experience in December.
When I converted to be a Muslim, I was confused... I still love and sing (off tune) Christmas songs, I still decorate Christmas tree at home in Bandung, I still cook my Christmas roast (but not turkey anymore..replaced by smaller chicken to fit into my small oven), I still go to malls just to hear the jingles and carols, and I still love everything about Christmas. Am I allowed to do this? Does it mean I am a less Muslim?
Some people may think that I shouldn't enjoy Christmas anymore...
But over the past 11 years I have chosen to keep enjoying it. Does it make me less Muslim? I don't thnk so. I have grown to understand my religion better and strongly believe that it is the right one for me.
When I looked back, I realized that my Buddhist mom, my atheist father and my Catholic sister had been having Maulud Nabi celebration every year since 20 years ago. They usually had an imam or uztads from nearby mosque in the house to do some prayers together with my parents's employees for Maulud Nabi celebration. My parents sacrifice lamb or cow almost every Aidil Adha at the mosque behind our house. They had done it for more than 20 years yet it didn't make them a Muslim or less of a Budhhist or a Catholic.
They did it to respect and appreciate the muslim employees who work for them, at the same time also enjoying the togetherness, the food, and the festivities.
A lot of people may not understand this but i trully believe that understanding and participating in other religious celebration has actually strengthened my belief in Islam. My husband has been my dictionary, my historian, and my engineer. I used to hate history class during my school days thus very ignorant on it... My husband came in handy explaining the history of religions, ready with wikipedia for referrence. By understanding the reasons and the origins of religious celebrations, I become a better Muslim. My views and thoughts on religions become clearer.
So when my girls felt guilty for wanting to have a Christmas tree at home, I told them that we would have it next year when our new house is ready. In fact, we plan on celebrating every major holiday next year. We will decorate our house for Chinese New Year, paint some eggs on Easter, put on some pelita during Ramadhan, (try) make a mini kolam on Deepavali and put up a christmas tree in December.
Living in Malaysia has enabled us to live a very rich life by experiencing massive cultural diversity.... Why waste it?
Imagine all the food we get to eat.... Yee Sang during Chinese New Year, chocolate in Easter, lemang in Ramadhan, chicken varuval in Deepavali and turkey for Christmas.
Just the food alone is a good enough excuse to celebrate every holiday....
Have a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday....