Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas is coming....

Christmas arrived in our local supermarkets half way through Kurban Bayram last week. They cleared away the chocolates and butchers knives for the Sacrifice Festival and out came the Christmas trees, decorations and children's toys. As said supermarket is British-owned it may not seem that surprising that Christmas arrives but all of the shops do the same. (We know this, because alas there it little indoor amusement here so our week's holiday was spent doing a tour of retail establishments in between brisk walks on the seafront.)

Some very smart retailer had the bright idea at some point in the last twenty years or so, that if Turkey hijacked all the trimmings of Christmas, held them captive for a week and forced them to do overtime for New Year, he might make a fortune. So we have Christmas trees, gift-giving, house decorating, turkey-eating and even Santa Claus himself, in the guise of Noel Baba, all in aid of the New Year. This 'tradition' being relatively new it's not always upheld by everyone, so Noel Baba comes to some children, trees may go up but gifts aren't exchanged and so on. It was a cunning plan and is working terrifically.

It works great for me too, I get all the Christmas cheer, minus carol singing and nativity scenes, from the local shops. My mother, bless, sends the pudding and mince meat and this year I'm attempting a Christmas cake in addition to the usual turkey dinner and trifle.

There is only one small snag, it has created a tremendous mix up in the minds of many Turks, they don't know that Christmas is not New Year. This is aided by dodgy translation of movies and sitcoms where Yeni Yil is substituted for Christmas, causing me to jump up and down and rant at the television. (At which point the Brown-eyed Girl informs me that the television can't hear. Smart girl, a little too smart perhaps.)

So there will be a debate at some point about whether good Muslims should celebrate a Christian feast, regardless of the fact that New Year isn't a Christian feast and that the said Christian feast happened a week earlier. I wonder how they'd feel if they knew that celebrating the New Year has its roots in paganism before being fixed on January 1 by the Romans?

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