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Point/counterpoint | Is Christmas an inclusive holiday?

Opinions contributor Naomi Rivera More and Opinions columnist Yasmina Sahir debate on whether Christmas can be celebrated by all.

November 29, 2022


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


 

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Yes

Christmas is an inclusive time of year.

The origin of Christmas comes from the birth of Jesus Christ. His date of birth was labeled Dec. 25 in 221 A.D., later becoming universally accepted and celebrated in numerous homes throughout the world.

To commemorate this date, Christians take part in the anniversary of this birth by gift-giving, spending time with family, decorating homes and trees, singing Christmas songs, and attending Christmas mass — to name a few.

However, Christmas does not need to be celebrated solely for its religious origins. There are many families and individuals that lean toward similar or same methods of celebration, but do not devote such doings to Christianity or any religion.

According to the Pew Research Center, 90 percent of Americans take part in Christmas celebrations. Though this number has held up steadily for years, it has been found that the role of religion has been declining throughout the years. Only 46 percent of Americans have stated that religious roles are much less emphasized throughout society today.

No matter your religion, there is room for some form of celebration. Although you do not need to be a part of this holiday season if you choose not to be, it has become generally more inclusive than before. How you choose to spend this time of the year is up to you and your family, and you should celebrate however you feel best fits the spirit. You are free to choose how to involve yourself this holiday season.

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No

Christmas, commercialized or religious, has never been a sign of peace and happiness as someone living on the outskirts of Christianity.

Instead, the U.S. focus on Christmas over other holidays celebrated during the winter months shows a clear sign of exclusivity in the form of social alienation and cultural domination.

As a young child, I grew up in a culturally mixed household. In my own time, I felt compelled to explore the faith of my paternal lineage, read the Quran, and fasted for Ramadan in my teenage years. Every year, I felt awkward and out of place as “Christmas break” approached and the school’s halls were filled with decorated trees, tinsel, and stars.

Each year around Christmas, I got to stay home and used the day for extra homework. My family often chose to gather on this day for a non-religious feast because we all were home anyway. On Eid Al-Fitr, the celebration recognizing the end of Ramadan, school was in session like any other day.

This does not stem from a resentment against European Christian culture, but from questions about the world around me. I wondered if I could wear an Islamic star without teachers saying it was inappropriate. When would my Jewish peers see dreidels and menorahs lining the hallways of our schools next to the trees and angels?

I don’t see how Christmas will ever be truly inclusive until all other holidays are recognized and cherished equally in the eyes of the state and publicly funded schools.

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