Only 327 sleeps until Christmas! Man, I love Christmas! Delicious food. Getting drunk on eggnog and mulled wine. The family gathering where everyone pretends to like each other. Christmas trees and Christmas carols, stockings and candy canes and oh, of course, all the presents. That’s the best part about it, right? All the gifts and cash you get from people you love like your parents — And from folks, you don’t give a shit about but take it anyway. Presents man, that’s what Christmas is all about!!
I mean, No fucks are given about the story of Joseph and the heavily pregnant Mary who marched for days from Nazareth to their native Bethlehem for census registrations. Or what about the birth of our Christian friend’s (supposedly) lord and savior, Jesus Christ — BORING! And who cares about the fact that although Muslims believe Jesus was sent as a beloved Prophet of God to deliver the word to the people of his time, they don’t believe in celebrating the birth of their prophets — Hence, Christmas isn’t a typical holiday in the Qur’an. Whatever though, once November comes around everyone wants a piece of the pie; regardless one’s religion.
While I love the fact that Christmas is seemingly bringing different religions closer, I don’t like the motivation behind it. See, I currently reside in Indonesia, the World’s biggest Muslim Democracy and home to 12.7% of the world’s Muslims. The Indonesian Archipelago includes over 17,500 islands within the territory of the Republic of Indonesia, and I happen to live on one that’s predominantly Hindu and the nation’s epicenter for tourism. Of course, a place like Bali is always “more open” to different customs or cultural beliefs, but in a country where Sharia Law still governs some autonomous regions in the north, it seems somewhat absurd to hear Christmas songs blasting out of every goddamn shop you try to enter.I always wonder if people, who sing along Jingle Bells and wear cheap Santa hats in 32 degrees (100 degrees Fahrenheit), actually know what’s going on or if they just being told to do so by their managers to make a bunch of money. Either way, it’s an odd thing to see in places like Jakarta, Batam or Medan.
But Capitalism is real, and it’s swallowing traditional beliefs at a rapid pace. It wouldn’t surprise me if in the very near future non-muslim folks are starting to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr, one of the two official Muslim holidays, to make a profit. Similarly to Christmas, Eid Al-Fitr has an obligatory act of charity and money is paid to the poor and needy. What once was a religious ritual has over time turned into a symbolic act and what once was meant for the poor and needy is now given to close friends and family members. Long story short, Eid Al-Fitr is just like Christmas in a way, and I wonder how long it will take for the rest of the world to catch on to the idea to turn a long-standing tradition into a cash cow instead.
In the end, I don’t care why you do or why you don’t celebrate Christmas or any holiday for that matter. I think it’s everyone’s personal choice to do it for the love or do it for the dough — I just think, it’s messed up that seemingly the only common ground religions have is the obsession of making money at the expense of someone else’s values or beliefs. Wouldn’t it be so much better to celebrate a holiday, whether it’s a Muslim, Jewish or Christian tradition because it’s important to your friends, family and loved ones and not because some fat rich guy sitting in his corner office is telling you to?