In light of Christmas festivities, students should be mindful of non-christian peers

In+light+of+Christmas+festivities%2C+students+should+be+mindful+of+non-christian+peers

Ayaan Nadeem

Every December, everywhere I go, there is always something related to Christmas. Whether it is Christmas music playing in stores or Christmas holiday decorations in some way, it’s always there. 

As a Pakistani Muslim, I do not celebrate Christmas or any other popular winter holiday. When I walk around school and everyone talks about what gifts they’re getting, and what their plans are for Christmas, it puts me in an interesting position. When people ask what my Christmas plans are or to participate in Christmas activities, I feel pressured to act like everyone else does around this time. I have had experiences with friends who have asked me to participate in Christmas traditions with them and it made me uncomfortable because I don’t want to tell them no. However, I also know that I can’t participate in certain activities so this really causes unnecessary stress. The reason I can not participate in these activities is because I don’t celebrate other religious holidays, as this goes against my religion

To clarify, I always enjoy seeing people happy around the winter holidays and I am truly glad they are going to enjoy their break. However, I always feel there is a sense of exclusion that.. It is the feeling of not being the same as everyone else. I love my religion and culture and am proud to be a Pakistani Muslim, but there has always been a sense of not fitting in with the rest of the people around me. 

Whether it’s this time of year or not, It is important for people to understand that everyone wants to be included. And while there is absolutely no harm in people celebrating their holidays publicly, it’s important to understand that yours is not the only celebration. Stores and malls should not only play Christmas music in December. There should be diversity in holidays that are represented in public spaces. Furthermore, be careful when asking people to participate in Christmas activities with you, as some people may not be comfortable with that and that causes conflict and tension between friends. 

In the future I would like to see more inclusion of other holidays and religions during December, there is also a lack of representation for other holidays as well, for example during December the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah occurs as well, yet I rarely see any representation for them either. I hope to one day not have that feeling of exclusion and feeling different from everyone else. 

I want to also take a moment to say that partly this can also be my fault. Some people simply do not know that I can not celebrate Christmas. For people who feel similar to me, we can do a better job in educating people about what we can and not celebrate.

I would like to encourage all of you this year to have a great holiday break, but also be respectful and understanding of other people’s cultures and traditions when it comes to the winter time. 

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Ayaan Nadeem at [email protected] 

To see more of Ayaan’s work, click here.

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