Why Muslims do not celebrate Christian holidays
by Khadija J. Asad
One of the main areas where Christians and Muslims differ is in the celebration of religious holidays. Although, Islam holds the prophet Jesus in high esteem, many of the holidays celebrated by Christians are not regarded as highly. This is not because Islam or its adherents wish to look down on Christianity, as they respect people of the book, but rather that many of the holidays that Christians celebrate are extensions of old Pagan festivals. As these holidays have Pagan origins and were not established by the Prophet Jesus (PBUH), they should not be celebrated.
CHRISTMAS For instance, Christmas is celebrated on December 25th and most people celebrating it set up a Christmas tree as part of this tradition. To begin with, we no have evidence that the Prophet Jesus (PBUH) was born at this time of year, so celebrating December 25th as the day of his birth can be contested. Furthermore, in Europe during Pagan times, December 21st was celebrated as the winter solstice; the shortest day of the year. Note that there are only a few days difference between the days marked for celebration. During this Pagan festival evergreen trees and mistletoe were regarded as holy as they did not die in winter, but remained green throughout the year. The placing of candles and later electric lights on evergreen trees arose from the pagan worship of the first light of the dawn of the day after the solstice. This light that filtered through the branches and needles of the trees was regarded as special as it meant renewal for the land. Additionally, the exchange of gifts at Christmas time is supposed to be representative of the three kings bringing gifts to the infant Jesus (PBUH), yet, the giving of gifts at this time of year is also reminiscent of the pagans leaving food and offering during the solstice celebrations to appease the gods so that they would remove the cursed darkness of winter and restore light and life to a barren and snow covered landscape. Thus, the celebrations of Christmas stems from nature worship and not from the work or teachings of the prophet Jesus. Because of this Muslims do not celebrate the holidays.
EASTER The second major holiday that Christians celebrate is Easter. As Muslims do not believe that Jesus was resurrected from the cross, they do not celebrate Easter as a holiday. Additionally, the Easter holiday falls in the springtime near the spring equinox. Celebration of the spring equinox is another Pagan holiday. It was celebrated as a fertility right and a renewal of the land and harvest. Easter does rotate as a holiday and generally does not fall on the date of the equinox itself, but by being near to the equinoxal date the comparison can be made to many past rites of springtime celebrations of pagan renewal of fertility to the land. Amongst these celebrations was the planting of seeds and the eating of eggs to insure fertility to the land, animals and people. The egg was sacred to the pagans as it was viewed as a symbol of rebirth and renewal. Hence, the eating of eggs at Faster has more to do with Pagan rights of fertility than anything the Prophet Jesus (PBUH) accomplished during his lifetime.
HALLOWEEN The Halloween holiday is certainly Pagan in origin; some might even venture to call it satanic in nature. Halloween originated as the Druid feast of Samhain, the Celtic god of the dead. On this day the dead were supposed to come back to the earth for the night. To prevent evil spirits from lingering on the earth too long, the spirits were offered a meal to appease them. On this night people also lit large bonfires to scare the spirits and they also disguised themselves so that individual spirits would not recognize them and do them harm for differences they may have had in their past life. This is where the present day tradition of trick-or-treating originated. As Halloween is a purely Pagan holiday you can see why Muslims do not allow their children to celebrate it. But, you say that Halloween isn't Christian, that is true, but the day that follows it, All Saints Day is. All Saints Day is the day for remembering all Christians who died in the previous year. The holiday was established by the early Christian church to keep people from celebrating the old feast of Samhain. Needless to say, it hasn't worked well as people are still celebrating Halloween festivities today. Islam is not a religion without holidays, celebrations or traditions. There are two main holidays that Muslims celebrate, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. The Muslim calendar is lunar and there are thirty-three lunar years for every thirty-two calendar years. Thus, the time of year when these celebrations fall varies as the holiday moves ahead by several days each calendar year.
EID AL-FITR The first holiday, Eid al-Fitr, the little feast is celebrated at the end of Ramadan. Ramadan is the Muslim month of fasting where during daylight hours people abstain from the eating of food, drinking of any liquids, smoking cigarettes and sexual intercourse. The fast is broken at sunset. Children, the elderly, nursing and pregnant women and the ill are exempt from fasting. Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection. It is a time of atoning for sins. By fasting one strives to master self- control which can then be applied to other aspects of one's life. Ramadan is a time when Muslims look inward and contemplate the good things that God provides to them. None the less, this is an arduous time for the Muslim community and at the end of the month of Ramadan the time of the end of the fast is marked by a great celebration known as the feast of Eid al-Fitr. This is a celebration where family and friends gather and share food and exchange gifts, especially children. The festivities may last from one to three days.
EID AL-ADHA The other celebration is Eid al-Adha or the large feast. This is usually celebrated at the end of the hajj, or the pilgrimage to Mecca. The end of the hajj is representative of when the prophet Abraham was tried by satan and rejected him. Abraham was sent to sacrifice his oldest son, Ishmael at God's command, but at the last moment God provided a ram to Abraham, which he sacrificed instead. Muslims commemorate this act of God's permission to slaughter the ram instead of Ishmael at the end of the hajj by the slaughtering of an animal. Part of this meat is eaten by those who make the hajj and the rest of the meat is distributed to the poor and needy. Thus, Muslims celebrate holidays, which are in keeping with religious teaching and not based on Pagan rituals. Islam strives to honor what is pure and righteous and not to borrow holidays and celebrations that others have celebrated for generations without knowing why. It is for this reason why Muslims do not celebrate Christmas or other Christian holidays.