"Real Muslims don't celebrate New Year" read the sign. On the other hand a good friend of my wife who is a comitted conservative Muslim proudly posted on her Facebook page a picture of a Christmas tree right next to a drinks cabinet loaded with booze. The new shopping malls that are popping up all over the city at the moment were laden with decorations and trees and piped carols as the season progressed. Another facebook post talked about how the origin of Christmas trees was some ancient Turkic belief in the tree of life. Suffice to say, it all feels like a post-modern globalised smorgasboard of cultural confusion. One can't help thinking it's all to the benefit of the transnational corporations that are unwittingly turning our world into grey conformity, but to say so feels puritanical (the most grievous of sins in the modern world!).
One sometimes tries to explain that as a Brit, Christmas is something that falls on the 25th December, New Year is a different festival that falls on the 1st January. We give presents for Christmas and make resolutions for New Year, we eat Turkey at Christmas and not at New Year. But the truth is that no one culture owns or defines what should happen at this time of year, so I guess that if some Muslims in Turkey quite like the idea of celebrating with trees and presents, at this time of year who is to say they can't. As we all know these ancient festivals have often been co-opted to assist different cultures to adapt to one or another religious belief system from time to time.
Happy New year.
Watercolour on paper