Holidays for everyone

It is THAT time of year again. You know, buying presents for family and friends, hiding gifts away from children and spouses, looking up favorite recipes in old cookbooks and wondering how you will be able to keep the house clean and still make enough food for that old-fashioned, sit-down style holiday feast.

Yep, Uncle Abdul and Aunt Aminah and their kids will be there to share the kebabs and bryani. So will Chacha (Grandpa) Issa and Cousin Mustafah. Half the people of the Masjid will also be stopping by, so you had better make sure that there is a lot of baklava and halwa.

Don’t you just love the holidays?

This year, the holiday line-up has been expanded. It isn’t just Ruth and David celebrating Hanukkah or John and Margaret getting ready for Christmas. This year, Americans are adding the Islamic celebration of Eid to the December calendar.

Eid-ul Fitr is the feast that comes after the month-long fast of Ramadan. Ramadan is a month of the Islamic (lunar) calendar, a holiday that is observed by abstinence. No eating, drinking, sinning, smoking or sex from before sunrise until after sunset for a lunar month—from the sighting of one new moon until the next one. Eid, which means “blessed festival” in Arabic, occurs on Dec. 6 this year. Next year, it will take place sometime in late November. (The lunar calendar moves back by about 11 days every year.)

So what does all of this mean to multicultural Americans? A holiday season for everyone! Plan on celebrating Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 7. Try some challah bread and light some candles. Enjoy Eid on Dec. 6 by greeting your Muslim friends and neighbors with an “Eid Mubarak!” and maybe they will offer you some Jalebi or meshoor paak. Christmas is on Dec. 25, and you can drink eggnog or spicy cider and give gifts. Kwanzaa, the African-American holiday, begins Dec. 26 and lasts for seven days. That’s a good time to make traditional African dishes of rice and legumes or yams.

Of course, these days you can commemorate each of the above events by sending out (insert your faith here) greeting cards with the appropriate (insert your faith here) stamp. The post office has the Hanukkah, Eid, Christmas and Kwanzaa stamps on sale at all of their facilities. The post office even has a nice snowman stamp for non-religious or “other” recipients.

Finally, from this one member of the local Muslim community to my neighbors throughout the area, I wish you all Eid Mubarak and Happy Holidays—whatever they might be!