When Your Friends Don't Celebrate the Same Holidays

For many people, this is the time of year for celebrating some of the biggest holidays. Christmas and Hanukkah are around the corner, and people greet each other with holiday wishes. Most people are aware of Hanukkah celebrations and are quick to change a “Merry Christmas!” to “Happy Hanukkah!,” but for the Muslim community, there is no holiday during this season. It can be a little awkward to know what to say to someone who doesn't share your celebrations, but it doesn't have to be.

For Muslims, one of the main holidays of the year is Eid al-Fitr, the celebration that marks the end of the month of fasting, Ramadan. Because the Islamic calendar is shorter than the Gregorian calendar, Eid is at a different time each year. Ramadan is based on the lunar cycle, not the rigid monthly calendar used to dictate Christmas. Although a few years ago, Ramadan took place around the holiday season, it is now happening in early summer. Each year, it arrives earlier in the Gregorian calendar, so it will eventually take place in December again.

Despite the fact that they do not celebrate any religious holidays this season, you can still include your Muslim friends in your celebrations! They may not celebrate Christmas, but there is no problem with sending them Christmas cards or even gifts. It’s a nice gesture, and it is nice to let them know you are thinking of them during a season of friendliness. In Islam, great value is placed on being neighborly and spreading love. It may be against their beliefs to celebrate Christmas religiously, but as long as they uphold their own religious values, they can participate in celebrations with friends. Just remember that if you give a gift to a Muslim friend around Christmastime, you should be giving it in the spirit of love and friendship, not a celebration of Jesus.

If you have reservations about giving gifts or inviting a Muslim friend to your Christmas celebrations, it never hurts to ask them. Be clear that you want to include them because they are an important part of your life, not because you want to expose them to Christian beliefs. Thanksgiving has passed, but it is still the time of year to show gratitude and love to people you care about! True friendship should not be limited by religious belief, and chances are that your friends will be happy to share in your happiness. Overall, as long as you are well-intentioned, there shouldn't be any awkwardness during the holiday season between you and friends who do not celebrate the same holidays.