Growing up in Iran and as a child, Christmas was a far away festivity of the West for us. We only saw pictures or movies of ‘baba noel’ بابا نوئل (Santa Clause) on his dazzling slay on the snow. We knew that he would bring gifts to the children and places them under the decorated pine trees.
Christmas in Iran
Today Christmas in Iran is more celebrated than it was years ago. Many Iranians have travelled outside Iran or got acquainted with this celebration through their family members who live in Europe, United states, Canada, Australia, etc.
Therefore, Christmas celebrations such as gift giving and pine tree decoration are starting to happen also among non-Christians.
There are Christmas shops in Iran where they sell elaborate Christmas decorations and pine trees. Iranians simply enjoy the holiday spirit of Christmas, as an occasion to celebrate life, health, and family.
Christians in Iran
Christians in Iran have always celebrated Christmas, although in different dates.
Armenian Christians celebrate Christmas on Januray 6th, while Assyrian Christians celebrate on the 25th of December. The difference in dates goes back to a variance in opinion among Christians as to when Christ was born.”
Christmas Celebrated by Iranians Outside Of Iran
Christmas celebration is extremely common among Iranians who live outside of Iran, no matter what religion they belong to. Iranians don’t seem to see Christmas as a religious celebration. Rather, they take it as an occasion to visit their family, exchange gifts, and celebrate love and friendship.
About 30 years ago, Christmas used to be considered a Christian ceremony, celebrating Jesus’s birth day.
Curiously enough, in today’s popular culture we are going back the true pagan origins of Christmas. That means the celebration of the Winter Solstice, which in Iran is called Yalda night.
Christmas Celebrated Around the World by Non-Christians
Take a look at these picture of my friends’s children (of a Muslim family) who celebrate Christmas almost as much as a Christian. Ok, perhaps they don’t attend the church at midnight ;). But all the rest, they do: gift giving, candle lighting, and decorating trees.
After all, find a child who doesn’t love Santa Clause, lights, red colors and listening to the beautiful Christmas songs while shopping for gifts!