Christmas in a Muslim Country

This year I moved to Turkey and am therefore spending Christmas in a Muslim country. I have never been very good at Christmas. As a child with divorced parents no matter how hard everyone tries you are painfully aware of the missing parent. As an adult that issue never goes away but you have the added pressure of extended families as well.

I am not known for being a party animal so the tradition of getting blind drunk is not really my idea of fun although I tried hard when I was younger!

The thing I find odd about Christmas is the way it is so removed from the actual meaning. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe it either but as a Christian celebration it does seem to have lost its way. I understand buying gifts for loved ones but how many families have woken up this morning to horrendous credit card bills that will take 6 months to pay off? One of my favorite Christmas’ was when I was made redundant. Not having a definite job to go to meant I only bought presents for my nieces and nephew. Without the pressure of shopping Christmas was lovely, handmade gifts meant so much more.

When you really think about it the Father Christmas thing gets even more odd. St Nicholas, born in Patara, and the wise men explain the gift giving but the red suit? The reindeer?

So, Christmas in a Muslim country…….. whatever the news is saying about Turkey it remains remarkably tolerant. There are Christmas trees and decorations in the supermarkets. This morning Facebook is awash with my Muslim friends wishing everyone a merry Christmas. If you believe the papers then all Muslims hate Christmas.

What they always fail to mention is that birth of Jesus is in the Quran. Yep, a whole chapter dedicated to the virgin birth by Mary and the miracle of Jesus speaking from the cradle. Believe me, I have read it! The crucial difference is that Jesus is a prophet and this is why his birth isn’t celebrated. Muhammad’s birth is not celebrated either.

Yesterday on Christmas Eve people gathered on our beach, Iztuzu, to celebrate. All nations, Brits, Dutch, Russians, Germans, Turks and more. Every religion. Muslims who go to the mosque every Friday were present.We swapped food, chatted, played music and generally had a good time. I like to think that this is the true meaning of Christmas. If we could take a tiny bit of the goodwill that was on display yesterday and sprinkle it across the world we would all be in a much better place.

I hope you all have a wonderful day whether you go to church, get blind drunk and eat too much or whether it means absolutely nothing to you!

Happy Christmas xxxxx


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