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Explaining to three year old about not celebrating christmas

(91 Posts)
alteredimages Sat 30-Nov-13 12:47:50


We are a Muslim family living in France, I am from a white British background, DH is Egyptian and we have a 3 year old DD who is in the petite section of maternelle, which is like full time nursery in the UK.

Christmas is coming up and this is the first year DD has really taken notice. She has all ready decorated a christmas tree at school and made decorations and has taken a real shine to father christmas, though I don't know if she realises he brings presents.

I am struggling to explain to her that as Muslims we don't celebrate Christmas without conveying the impression that those who do are bad or wrong. All my side of thw family do celebrate and sometimes send presents for DD, though we don't tell her the presents are for Christmas. On the other hand, I don't want her to feel like she's getting a raw deal and that being a Muslim is second best. Anyone with any experience of this kind of thing or any ideas how to explain to a very hyper three year old?

ModreB Sat 30-Nov-13 19:29:31

IIRC, Jesus is recognised as a holy "person" in Islam as well as Christianity. Could you explain to her that it is a celebration of the birth of a "Holy Man" who is also a "Holy Man" in your religion?

adiia Sat 30-Nov-13 19:53:46

OP I think mumsnet is not the best place to ask imo.all this obsession that we shouldn't do anything different.I don't need to follow someone elses ways to show I respect them.I can respect christian/jew/atheist etc without taking part/following their ways.but then again,not pretending there's Santa is akin to child abuse apparently.nothing wrong in teaching kids that people are different.and mid-winter celebration come from paganism don't they?that would make me even more likely NOT to celebrate them,as monotheism is the one big idea islam is based on.

ummunono Sat 30-Nov-13 21:34:01

It would probably be very confusing to tell her about the birth of Jesus at that age because many practicing Muslims don't celebrate birthdays, prophet or otherwise, and because they don't believe Christmas is related to Jesus' birth anyway. 'Christmas' was not practiced by early Christians and Muslims believe Jesus was born in Spring or Summer, not December.

SirChenjin Sun 01-Dec-13 09:37:48

Adiia - it's hardly an 'obsession' hmm

rosiedays Sun 01-Dec-13 21:53:49

Hi op.
Wow I've been having the same conversion today smile I've been married to an egyptain (Muslim) )for 7years we now have a 4month old dd elhumdulla.
He has no concept of the affection and love that i feel for Christmas. Although we are Muslim Christmas is part of MY family therefore my daughter's heritage. We have not fully decided what will happen this year (we will be in uk) ) but we will be acknowledging it in some way. My family have the right to enjoy my dd at their special time as much as his do at Eid. It's a very personal family decision that all cross cultural family's have to make their own call.

awe Sun 01-Dec-13 22:03:16

Do you expect her to go to school and study on france's independence day because you are not planning on staying in the country? What is the difference really? (Please no religous lectures, the responses before me have dealt with those)

Gilberte Sun 01-Dec-13 22:18:27

If I lived in a non christian country where christmas wasn't celebrated I don't think I would do much at Christmas. It would seem strange to celebrate it if I had to go to work anyway and no one else was celebrating.

However, if I lived in India I would like to think I would celebrate Diwali as I would like to join in and be part of my adopted country's culture.

Similarly, if I lived in Egypt I would like to think I would take part in Eid celebrations.

There's a member of staff at my work who brings in treats every Eid. I have no problem eating them. Similarly another colleague brings in the most delicious sweets to celebrate Diwali. I enjoy them.

I think they will both probably go the staff Christmas lunch. I can't imagine they would stay working in the office because they aren't Christians.

Gilberte Sun 01-Dec-13 22:23:01

However, I should add i'm not here to say what you should do. I support your choice to do what you feel right by your religion and your family but expect that your DD may feel excluded by her peers etc in the short term by your decision. As she grows older she will be able to understand the reasons behind your decision and one day she will presumably be able to decide for herself.

Totallyunited Sun 01-Dec-13 23:04:09

There is absolutely no need to celebrate Xmas if you are uncomfortable with it. We are a jewish family and our Christmas day consists of a turkey lunch with crackers - that's it. Father Christmas doesn't come, we don't have a tree, it would never occur to me to buy advent calendars, it's just not on our radar at all. We have a family lunch on Boxing Day because it's a bank holiday and everyone is around but that's it.

We simply explain to the children that we have our own holidays, it's lovely to enjoy Christmas e.g sing songs, look at the lights but we have our own lovely festivals and Christmas isn't one of them. It is somewhat easier for us as generally Chanukah falls around christmas time so the children still receive lots of presents and are easily pacified but even if they didn't then it wouldn't change how we celebrate.

MoreThanChristmasCrackers Sun 01-Dec-13 23:12:19

I know this isn't what you asked neither but please on behalf of all the dc who were at school with my dc will you teach your child not to spoil it for everyone else.
A Muslim family at dds last school, the dd told all the class of 6/7 year olds that FC/Santa were their parents, they didn't believe and the dc that did were idiots.
You are right to ask for suggestions it can't be easy when all your dc peers are celebrating.
I would just say we all celebrate something different, believe in different things/Gods etc. Each year add some age appropriate info.

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Sun 01-Dec-13 23:42:34

I appreciate that you see Christmas as a Christian festival but there's a very good thread here about precisely why this is not so. Please do give it a good read, and then you might be able to come to terms with marking it in a way that your daughter will appreciate.

nicename Mon 02-Dec-13 07:43:41

That is so mean! The parents mustve said something similar to the kids - such contempt!

innoparticularorder Mon 02-Dec-13 10:10:26

Morethen...don't be ridiculous. Just because the child who told your dd Santa wasn't real was a Muslim the OP must teach her dc not to do the same! Never heard such a stupid request on MN!

adiia Mon 02-Dec-13 12:27:50

Maybe you shouldn't lie to your childre,then no risk of someone telling them the shouldn't have calling other kids idiot obv,but u can't pretend that everyone join in into the "secret".anyway the point isn't that christmas is a christian festivity(even if its not really),but that its not a islamic OP and many other muslim don't want to celebrate it.can't see how saying that your muslim neughbour/collegue/friend do celebrate has anything to do with it,many muslim drink,don't pray etc,doesn't mean that's the right way to practice islam.

SirChenjin Mon 02-Dec-13 12:35:36

Maybe you shouldn't lie to your childre (sic)

Which is why I don't follow any religion.

Branleuse Mon 02-Dec-13 12:39:45

my brother and SIL are muslim, and while they dont actively celebrate christmas, they still enjoy some of the cultural part of it. My mum still gets them christmas presents, and theyve never refused, and they get my mum something.

How about telling her that you dont really celebrate it in your house, but youre glad shes having fun with it at school. Surely she'll get christmas presents from your side of the family?

SirChenjin Mon 02-Dec-13 12:44:35

Branleuse - the OP said "All my side of thw family do celebrate and sometimes send presents for DD, though we don't tell her the presents are for Christmas". Giving her the presents and telling her they are from Granny and Granpa etc who do celebrate Christmas seems reasonable, surely?

Branleuse Mon 02-Dec-13 12:47:44


Just tell her theyre christmas presents.

Tbh, im surprised the french school doing much for christmas. I thought they were secular, and France has a massive muslim population

HerrenaHarridan Mon 02-Dec-13 13:27:33

Maybe you could send dd to her maternal gps over the holidays smile

Totallyunited Mon 02-Dec-13 13:40:55

I don't understand why there are posters on here saying that the OP should celebrate Christmas and trying to convince her that it's not fair on her child not to. It's perfectly ok to live in Britain, to be British and not celebrate Christmas. It doesn't mean that our children are deprived, it doesn't mean that they are outcasts at school. I agree she probably shouldn't lie about where the presents come from but It would feel totally wrong for me to buy into the whole Christmas thing as ultimately regardless of oh how it develops, in my eyes Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus and as a Jew that goes against everything I believe in. Taking part in school celebrations, doing the panto thing, buying gifts for good friends who aren't jewish is all fine but absolutely no way is Santa ever coming to my house, I can't describe it but it's just totally wrong for our family. My children absolutely accept that we don't have Christmas like most people. I think that if you don't have a strong non Christian religion then it's impossible to understand but honestly, our children aren't deprived. We have the most wonderful celebrations in our religion, and lots more of them than in the Christian character. By keeping our traditions by observing Christmas from the sidelines without participating fully I feel that we have the best of both worlds.

ChippingInLovesChristmasLights Mon 02-Dec-13 13:47:02

Christmas is a Pagan celebration that the Christians hijacked and renamed! You don't need to believe in, nor celebrate, the religious side of it at all to enjoy Christmas.

I don't think that setting her apart from the cultural norm is good for her at all - why set up a 'them' & 'us' situation?

We celebrate all kinds of things that the children are interested in. Just recently we went to a Michaelmas celebration as they were having one locally and some of the kids (German) friends were going. We made lanterns and learnt about their celebration. We have done the same with lots of other things - it is good for children to learn about other cultures and festivities.

Enjoying your childhood traditions (tree/presents/family time/santa) with your DD is not celebrating another religious holiday - you don't have to go to church, tell the christian christmas story & make it about the birth of Jesus to take part in Christmas - it's not.

HerrenaHarridan Mon 02-Dec-13 13:52:41

I disagree, my mum was brought up without Christmas and still (in her 40s) get very upset talking about when all the other kids were going to parties and she was excluded angrysad

I'm not in anyway religious by my dd is brought up to recognise a wide range of different religious festivals.

To be honest my biggest problem with this whole scenario is shoe on the other foot.

Would a converted to Christian family be advised not to acknowledge eid or Ramadan? 10 to the penny they round be advised to give some sort of a nod to one half of their families cultural background.

Totallyunited Mon 02-Dec-13 13:57:11

Yes but I am not saying exclude from parties or anything, my children can go to Christmas parties, they do secret Santa at school and send Christmas cards to their friends as well as receiving them, my DD is in her school carol concert next week, they sing carols in the car, we go and look at the lights in Oxford Street every year and we visit friends to see their trees and celebrate with them. But, we don't decorate our house or have Father Christmas. That's very normal in our community and our children don't feel excluded, we not ignoring Christmas, we are just not participating fully into it just as I didn't as a child.

SirChenjin Mon 02-Dec-13 13:57:50

What 'posters' ie me have been saying is that, given that the OP is a convert to Muslim as she is now married to one, was raised in a household that celebrated Christmas, who now has a DD who has an extended family who still celebrate Christmas and who is looking for ideas on how to explain why they don't celebrate Christmas, rather than ignoring 50% of her DD's heritage and hiding presents, look to celebrate it in another form eg Winter Festival and integrating that into their own family tradition.

On a very simplistic level, DH and I did Christmas slightly differently as children. When we got married and had our own children we adapted and merged these traditions, as have my friends who have married people from completely different countries with their own customs, festivals, etc.

I'm confused as to what a multicultural family would only want to celebrate (or acknowledge) 50% of their culture. Even if you don't worship at that time it should be perfectly possible to say "look what Auntie Jean/Nadia has sent you for Christmas/Eid/whatever", make a card for them, or something - esp. if you live in a country which does observe a particular festival.

Totallyunited Mon 02-Dec-13 14:02:41

I agree that it's odd not to acknowledge Christmas when half the family celebrate and to deny where gifts have come from but equally, I don't think that there's a need for the OP to have Christmas in the home although I would have thought that celebrating at the grandparents and understanding that grandma and grandpa celebrate this and we celebrate that but it's all lovely would be a better potion.

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