I’ve been thinking, think a lot about Christmas. Yes, as a non-Christian, I enjoy putting up a Christmas tree in my house, sitting around the (fake) fireplace with a cup of tea or coco and reading. I am Muslim, yet I love the holiday season as it brings people together often to share in joy and love with one another. The gifts to me are a perk for the little ones but not that main point of the holidays.
I am all for diversity. In fact, I think diversity is what makes life special, unique, exciting, and enriching. Each day I think about it, often from an academic framework, and I count my luck that I was raised in Canada where diversity is a cornerstone of every community you enter. Without diversity, I wouldn’t be where I am right now; my research would be null!
But I do have a bone to pick.
Whoever creates emojis, they have done a wonderful job of ensuring that most emojis can be diverse with skin tone changes. This, for the most part is great, I think. BUT…I am unsure about the Father Christmas (Santa) emoji.
If I remember correctly, from my childhood in a predominantly caucasian schooling system, Father Christmas (known to many as Santa Claus), has always been an old jolly white fellow. He would wear his beard long, his belly over his belt, and bare gifts galore. He has always been white.
So, yes, while I suppose I could agree that anyone who comes with gifts can represent Father Christmas, I worry about how we have moved from a culture of appropriation of individuals to extreme cultural sensitivity and full inclusion. What makes it wrong from non-caucasian individuals to accept that a white Father Christmas is the representative of the much anticipated Christmas gift barer? Perhaps agreeing that Father Christmas is white will also encourage our caucasian friends to accept that Ismaili Muslim’s globally celebrate Khushali three times a year and the one in December is the celebration of our spiritual leader, His Highness the Aga Khan. It is not uncommon for Ismaili’s to express this celebration as “our Christmas”. Or, that Hindu’s worship various Gods based on sect and/or family beliefs. These are simply two examples of various forms of beliefs and worshiping practices that occur simultaneously in diverse communities.
Ultimately, what I am trying to say is that while I strongly believe in promoting diversity and the acceptance of multiple belief systems, each personal and constantly shifting in my opinion, I think there is a limit to how we present diversity without depleting the meaning of certain practices for certain groups of individuals. I could be way way off on this topic…please do counter-attack if you see a perspective I have not expressed here!
And for all of you that will be celebrating over the holiday season, Merry Christmas from your Muslim friend!