Christmas in majority non-Christian countries?

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md0
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Christmas in majority non-Christian countries?

Postby md0 » 2013-12-06, 19:36

Ever since Facebook when full-on advertising-driven I've been getting a lot of sponsored posts targeted to Northern Cyprus (also, Sweden :shock: )

Anyway, I just noticed this. From what I can understand, it's about a charity for children, by a bank (why the back needs to call for a charity when they already have money is a story for another time).
But you can clearly see a decorated tree, and presents, so... Christmas? Found that a bit peculiar.
Facebook - 2013-12-06_21.26.39.png


So, a couple of questions:

Do Muslims celebrate the alleged birth of Jesus/Prophet Isa? Or is it just a commercial celebration as it is in majority non-theist countries like Japan and China? Or the bank used a completely unrelated stock image that would make little sense to Turkish Cypriots?

What about Israel? If I am not mistaken, Hanukkah ended already, do celebrations still happen in Israel, possibly for a commercialised winter holiday break?

At least for Japan, I know it's celebrated as sorta another Valentine's Day. Purely commercial.
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Re: Christmas in majority non-Christian countries?

Postby linguoboy » 2013-12-06, 22:09

meidei wrote:What about Israel? If I am not mistaken, Hanukkah ended already[.]

For whatever that's worth. All these Israelis I know tell me Hanukkah isn't celebrated in Israel. It's strictly a diaspora thing, and then only in areas where the majority celebrate Christmas as a major gift-giving holiday.
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Re: Christmas in majority non-Christian countries?

Postby md0 » 2013-12-07, 7:52

Weird. Euronews showed a massive menorah in Tel Aviv a couple of days ago.
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Re: Christmas in majority non-Christian countries?

Postby IpseDixit » 2013-12-07, 8:19

Hi meidei. In Israel Christmas is celebrated by the Christian Palestinian minority (and all the pilgrims, I suppose). Nazareth is one of the Christian centres of the Holy Land, and definitely the most important for Christmas, the city is kinda decorated, they have a big tree and the lights etc etc:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0pAXoPCFr4

I suppose that also Jerusalem is kinda abuzz under that period.

As for Hannukah, well, my religious Israeli friend did celebrate it, but he comes from the diaspora even though he has lived BaAretz for lots of years now so I don't know if he's an exception or not. I should ask my secular Israeli friend what he did.

I had no doubt that in Japan it's just a commercial thing :) an average Japanese is born Shintoist because the birth cerimony is nicer, then they get married as Catholics because it's more romantic, and they die as Buddhists for the same reasons as above. Not exactly the most serious people religion-wise :).

I highly doubt that Muslims do celebrate the birth of the Prophet Jesus, first because the date was chosen in a completely arbitrary way by Christians, second because Muslims have their own Calendar and even though they celebrated it, the likelihoods of it falling precisely on the Christian Christmas would be quite slight, and third, if they celebrate the birth of Jesus, they should also celebrate the birth of all other Prophets as well, I think...

Though, I don't know if maybe Christmas is a bit like Halloween over here: a holiday which is not part of the local culture but because of the exposure to Anglo stuff, it's somewhat celebrated by the youngest generation (also because it's a pretext to have parties and a second short carnival), so I don't know if this could be the case of Christmas in Muslim countries (at least the more open) too.
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Re: Christmas in majority non-Christian countries?

Postby vijayjohn » 2013-12-07, 16:27

IpseDixit wrote:In Israel Christmas is celebrated by the Christian Palestinian minority

I'd say India is pretty similar. Indian Christians celebrate Christmas. Christians and Sikhs are almost evenly tied for the position of the third largest religion in India after Hinduism and Islam, so Christians are a significant minority in India.

However, while Kerala seems to be copying an awful lot of American Christmas traditions lately (along with all kinds of other American things), what I vaguely remember about my dad's account of what Christmas was like during his childhood in Kerala is nothing at all like the big celebration it is here (and in other countries). IIRC, Christmas was a day when you ate rice porridge for breakfast, went to church, came home and ate lunch, ate fruitcake for dessert, and exploded firecrackers in the evening. My dad has fond memories of my grandpa also dressing up in a Santa suit in the evening. (I may never understand how people in former European colonies can stand the heat when they're dressed up in such stuffy clothing in completely unsuitable weather).

I highly doubt that Muslims do celebrate the birth of the Prophet Jesus, first because...

Well, I dunno. Lots of Hindus celebrate Christmas (basically as a secular holiday, from my understanding), even very conservative ones! And in Kerala, at least, it's pretty common for people to celebrate each other's religious holidays. I've heard of Christians (my own parents, no less) feasting on Vishu and Hindus fasting during Ramadan.

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Re: Christmas in majority non-Christian countries?

Postby IpseDixit » 2013-12-07, 16:40

Well, I dunno. Lots of Hindus celebrate Christmas (basically as a secular holiday, from my understanding), even very conservative ones! And in Kerala, at least, it's pretty common for people to celebrate each other's religious holidays. I've heard of Christians (my own parents, no less) feasting on Vishu and Hindus fasting during Ramadan.


I think that for this to happen you need to have two religions with a similar number of followers (in a given area) or at least quite a considerable minority, which isn't the case in many Muslim countries (with a few exceptions).

I think we also need to clarify what we mean by "celebrating". Inviting over people of a different religion for Christmas lunch or other holidays is one thing and is a way to keep good relationships among neighbours, but deciding to celebrate Christmas even though you have no Christian neighbours is another totally different thing, and I personally was referring to the latter hypothesis.

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Re: Christmas in majority non-Christian countries?

Postby md0 » 2013-12-07, 22:24

Thanks for the info guys. Hope more users see it and share what they know.

Btw, noticed this in south Nicosia tonight
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Re: Christmas in majority non-Christian countries?

Postby IpseDixit » 2013-12-08, 19:09

Btw, I think that the most correct term is hanukia. The menorah is the candelabrum with 6 arms. The one for Hannukah has 9 arms and its real name is hanukia.

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Re: Christmas in majority non-Christian countries?

Postby voron » 2014-02-05, 0:51

Back to the original post: you can see an outright Christmasy picture on their facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/CocukSOS

Image

But meidei, from what I'm getting it's a kids support society in Cyprus, so you should be better informed about why and how your neighbours celebrate Christmas. Would you tell us? :)

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Re: Christmas in majority non-Christian countries?

Postby md0 » 2014-02-05, 1:16

But meidei, from what I'm getting it's a kids support society in Cyprus, so you should be better informed about why and how your neighbours celebrate Christmas. Would you tell us? :)

Well, Northern Cyprus. Contrary to what you might expect, there isn't much cultural exchange happening between the two Cypruses in the last 40 years ;)
I've been there only twice, and the second time I did see some vaguely christmassy decoration outside of fancy hotels, but other than that, I have no idea about the cultural aspect of things, that's why I was asking here.
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Re: Christmas in majority non-Christian countries?

Postby iodalach93 » 2016-08-29, 12:36

I was told by an Iranian coursemate that her family celebrated Christmas (even though they were not Christian) but not in a religious way. That means, they only gathered, had dinner together and exchanged presents with each other.

Lebanon, today a Muslim-majority country, celebrates Christmas as a national holiday (25th December and 6th January, depending on the sect), yet I have no idea what non-Christians do on that occasion.

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Re: Christmas in majority non-Christian countries?

Postby Prowler » 2016-11-10, 3:56

I know Japan celebrates Christmas, but it seems to be more of a Valentine's Day(targeted at couples) than anything. Also, from what I gather, life doesn't seem to stop there on the 24th and 25th(everything closed). Not even sure if it's officially a holiday there or not.

I once talked to a girl from Mauritius, which I believe is a country with a significant amount of religious diversity, and she didn't celebrate Christmas since she was a Hindu. So I guess most non-Christian Mauritians view Christmas night as just another day?


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