Celebrating Christmas as a non-Christian

Khusbu Patel | The Chronicle

When I think of winter, a few things pop into my head: snow, snowmen and, of course, snow days. But I also think of the festive celebration of Christmas. Growing up in a Hindu household, I was still drawn towards the joy of Christmas. I heard about all the fun things my classmates did, like watching Polar Express before the break and decorating gingerbread cookies during holiday parties. As I watched many of my classmates embracing the traditions of the season I began to wonder why I do not celebrate Christmas in my household.

I grew up in a Hindu family, celebrating all the holidays and going to the temple every week. I didn’t celebrate any American holidays and didn’t know much about Christianity. As a child, my only opinions on the world were inspired by my family’s Hindu views. Before attending school, I didn’t even know what Christmas was, only gathering what I could about American customs from television and the media. When I went to school, my peers exposed me to the endless joy-sparking Christmas activities that brought us all together and lifted my spirits. 

As my friends and I talked about all the gifts we asked Santa for, I felt like Santa didn’t care about me, as he never left me any gifts. I came home from school and questioned my parents about Santa. They told me he was simply a myth that Americans shared. I couldn’t share the joy all of my classmates felt.

I felt compelled to follow traditions because everyone around me did, but I was never really sure if I was qualified to celebrate Christmas. I pretended to have a Christmas list and a family that participated in American Christmas traditions. I wanted to fit in with the other kids.  

I began to question if my lack of the religious sentiment behind Christmas meant that I shouldn’t celebrate Christmas at all. I’ve come to enjoy celebrating the Christmas season and my family has started to embrace this season of colorful decorations and festive celebrations. 

While the original holiday celebrates the birth of Jesus, I love participating in the joys and fun of Christmas. I enjoy singing carols, observing the traditions and spending memorable time with family, even though I am not Christian. My family continues to practice Hinduism. However, celebrating the Christmas season doesn’t take away from our religion.  

Even though people may have religious sentiments behind Christmas, I know that I don’t need to be Christian to practice the American tradition of Christmas.