Merry Christmas, everyone.
I have to admit, I have a soft spot for Christmas. It’s all about childhood associations, naturally. The tree, the presents growing up in Turkey, it was pleasant American holiday within my family. There was nothing religious about it. Every December, books about Santa, reindeer, and baby Jesus would come out along with the Christmas records. To my brother and I, the Christian elements of the Christmas story were as much fairy tales as Rudolph the red nosed reindeer.
Curiously, the Islamic holiday our family tried to observe in a similar cultural, nonreligious fashion didn’t leave as positive an impression. This was one of the Eid’s, which in Turkey is celebrated by dressing up in one’s best clothes, visiting relatives, and consuming candy. All that was nice enough, but there was also a clearly religious atmosphere about the whole thing, which made it more difficult to just take it as a pleasant cultural holiday.
Still, I have to admit that religions do holidays well. It’s hard to even imagine secular equivalents that don’t come across as trying too hard.