Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in Libya

Two years ago, I vowed not to remember anyone's special celebrations unless they remembered mine. I was offended at how come I wished all my friends and acquaintances Christmas, Chanukah, Veterans Day, Independence Day, Nairuz etc... and those same people only remembered Christmas and New Year, no good wishes at all directed to the Muslim world.  I checked and checked on Facebook to see any reaction this year too and it was only from the usual suspects less than 3 people in total ( apart from the Arabs), who do remember every date. The others would remember silly birthdays but nothing more it was as if our festivities do not exist even my Asian friends who have a mix in their respective countries did not remember so I was not going to blame the other folks...

So for all the talk about multiculturalism and melting pots not sure it is working some people think they are superior. The only ones who turned to have the real spirit of multiculturalism were Arabs funnily enough.

And to prove it this is a first in Libya now that Ghaddafi is gone even the Tripoli Post is wishing readers Merry Christmas - go Libya GO ! well done !

So in the true spirit of Christ who originated from our part of world, I am taking my vow back and wishing everyone and not just the usual suspects publicly everything good  for whichever occasion is at hand. After all if someone is not a good person we do not need use the same style of treatment....and here is my first new year resolution...

Merry Christmas everyone !

PS have you wished Libyans a Happy Independence Day ? it was yesterday on Christmas Eve :P


globeonmytable said...

Congratulations on Libyan Independence Day!!

Thank you for the link, and don't despair of us. I wished someone Eid Mubarak this summer on the correct day (due to twitter) and got my pronounciation corrected :) Mixing Arabic with English is a tricky thing when I don't actually speak Arabic.

So: "Distocknel Mubarak!!", I put Independence into google translate and listened to the audio. It looks very odd though....

Highlander said...

@globeonmytable, thank you! You are actually making an effort to find pronunciation and the right words this is really good.

You were almost close with the audio it is Eid Istiklal Mubarak, which sounds the way you heard it :)
welcome to my blog

Bill said...

Via my Twitter account I did in fact tweet greetings in Arabic to my Moslem friends to celebrate the feast at the conclusion of Ramadan this year. However, I have not so far wished anyone Happy Independence Day in respect of Libya, although it was covered in some depth on news bulletins here (in the UK), so

سعيد عيد الاستقلال

NOMAD said...


Generally we are more in use to read (and or to watch) that Churches are burning, and Christians being slaughtered in muslim countries, ie Egypt, Nigeria, Turkey...

hmm, anyway happy independance day, and don't forget to thank those that helped !

Anonymous said...

Hey! Sending you my heartfelt congratulations for Independence Day!

(So, this has nothing to with your latest Liberation, but rather when you rid yourselves of the Italians?)

Mitchell said...

I stayed away from public events on Christmas Day here, but it did occur to me, all by myself, that it must be like this in Muslim countries, on special days like Eid... So maybe I get some points for inner multiculturalism. :-)

Highlander said...

Thank you Bill that is so sweet and Happy New Year to you :)

Highlander said...

lol @ Bof Nomad !

There are so many thanks to those that helped all over Libyan cities and in the virtual Libyan sphere, some people even painted the flags on their cars and houses and are flying them on their rooftops as well... :P
I never thought I would see someone sell the French or American flag in shops in Libya so don't worry... not blaming anyone by the way my post was a personal reflection about myself....

Highlander said...

Oceankid, thank you yes 24 Dec is independence from Italy and colonial forces.
The current Independence day will be probably will be when the liberation of all Libyan territory was declared a few days after Gaddafi's death. and I expect another public holiday will be 17 February... which is coming soon yay ! We need some public holidays to replace the ones that have disappeared forever after the fall of the Gaddafi regime and I am hoping they are not whimsical...

Highlander said...

LOL Mitchell I'm not giving, just reflecting on myself as I told Nomad but yes you get brownies for multiculti inner thoughts he he he

Maya M said...

Highlander, you almost made me pity the poor multiculturalists, although I strongly disapprove their ideology.
BTW, happy New Year, if you celebrate it!
My comments to this post will be indecently long, because I have thought a lot about how to include current Islamic cultures into the global culture, and I think this requires incorporation of the Eids into the mainstream festival calendar.
However, the task is not easy.
Let me first say why, to my opinion, the major Christian holidays have become global.
One factor of course is the economic and political power of the West. However, power alone is not enough. The Soviet government was also powerful and tried for decades to install Communist festivals and rituals, but people simply didn't accept them.
To begin with, Christmas has a fixed date which is easy to remember. Easter as a movable feast is more difficult, but at least you know it is in the spring. The Eids, if I have got it right, can occur in any month and people in non-Muslim communities will have difficulty keeping track on them.
For the same reason, Christmas and Easter are associated with the annual rhythms of nature - the beginning return of the Sun after winter solstice and the unfolding of spring life, respectively. You cannot associate the Eids with anything of this sort.
In fact, many belive that Christmas and Easter have such dates because of their pagan roots. These roots are so strong that at least one extremist Christian cult - Jehovah's Witnesses, forbids celebration of Christmas and Easter. The Pagan and secular elements such as Christmas trees, Santa, painting eggs, Easter bunnies etc. are fun. What about the Eids? I have just read that Erdogan has told Turks not to use the term "Eid of the sweets", because it is allegedly un-Islamic!
Then, over the centuries Christmas and Easter have been covered by multiple layers of a great culture. I know I am on thin ice here because you don't like when other people "think they are superior". However, I think mere postulating A = B won't get us anywhere. So, first let's remember the great Catholic paintings of baby Jesus and the Resurrection. For reasons known to everybody, these images have no Islamic counterparts.
Literature: Easter has relatively modest representation, I can remember just Steynbeck's "Winter of Our Discontent". However, Christmas shapes e.g. "A Christmas Carol" by Dickens, "The Gift of the Magi" by O'Henry, "The Flying Classroom" by Kaestner and "Hogfather" by Pratchett. Christmas has even spawned a separate literature genre, mocked by Woodehouse in "Sonny Boy". I do not know corresponding works by Muslim or post-Muslim authors centered on the Eids. If they exist, they need advertising.
Music: I don't know how "Ave Maria", "Silent Night", "Jingle Bells" or "Jesus Christ Superstar" sound to Arabs, but most Westerners, if they are sincere, have a problem with the quarter tones.

Maya M said...

How could non-Muslims be included into the celebration of the Eids?
If restaurants and fast food chains offer traditional Eid food as "meal of the day", many will be tempted to taste it, but this is not enough.
Any decorational or other items to amuse the kids?
Adults, however, want also a spiritual element. I have read in some blog that Eid al-Adha reinforces the value of human life. This sounds great, but needs to be said more loudly and by more people. Some present it also as a sort of Father's Day, but most non-Muslim societies already have their Father's Days.
So, to include others, some elements have to be expanded or added. And some elements need to be taken out. Of course every serious festival is centered on meat-containing food and includes some charity. However, I am strongly opposed to the ritualization of animal killing and the division of humans into, eh well, real people and poor people. If you wish, I can explain my opinion. Anyway, you can take my word that most people here think like me, just will not be open enough to say it (when they do, they usually talk nonsense such as animal rights).
The situation is far worse with Eid ul-Fitr. Has it any meaning other than marking the end of Ramadan? To catch the bull by the horns, the problem is Ramadan itself. People who don't fast regard any fasting (except for health reasons) as poinless self-inflicted suffering. My impression is that Muslims seem to have no idea how much their image in other people's eyes is hurt by fasting. It is easy to understand that fasting people feel great relief when it's over - if one hits his thumb with a hammer, he'll also feel relief when he finally stops. However, few bystanders will feel like joining such a celebration.
Have I thrown a bomb, or just expressed banal thoughts?

Highlander said...

Happy New Year to you too Maya thanks.

You have not thrown any bomb don't worry ( at least not for me ). It's healthy to learn how other people think. The Muslim Eids are movable because they follow the lunar months as you know, It does not prevent people in majority Muslim countries in celebrating . Of course it would be nice to have a set date according to the Gregorian calendar but that's not going to work :P it's a bit like Thanksgiving not really fixed 100% :P...
I was not asking for everyone in the world to celebrate Eid or other important dates for me but I wanted my friends and those who care ( from my real life as opposed to virtual life) to make an effort to acknowledge it. If someone is interested you can get an approximate date plus or minus one day from the websites for religious feasts as for national holidays they are usually available ( except for Libya now where some will be changed lol).

Checking the information requires not more than 10 minutes search and adding to calendar and then sending a note on that date or close to it or adding a Facebook status .... I know because I do it for non- Muslim and non-Libyan friends..but the majority don't bother when it is the other way around which is disappointing and hence my rant.

Great ideas for marketing you proposed thanks by the way. I hope someone picks some up !

Maya M said...

Actually, very soon after writing my previous two comments, I thought about a meaning of Eid ul-Fitr: a festival of enjoyment of life, somewhat similar to the European May Day before the latter was destroyed by Labour's Day.
On this day, things for marketing could be all sorts of delicious foods (some Muslims are already doing it with sweets) plus antics, luxury books, things we wish all the time but almost never actually step forward to buy.
You are right that once people get used to celebrating a particular holiday, it is not a major obstacle that it has no fixed date.