Little Green Footballs

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Joyeux Noël!

It's Christmas Day in France:

When it comes to celebrating Christmas, it turns out that France's Muslims aren't that different from their countrymen. Muslims may not observe the religious aspects of the holiday -- but then, neither do most French people.

Although a large majority of the French describe themselves as Catholic, only 20% attend Church regularly. Century-old French legislation enforces strict separation of church and state, so there are no nativity scenes or other displays of religious imagery around government buildings, and public schools don't stage Christmas carol sing-alongs or Biblical pageants. All that, along with a heavy dose of commercialism, has turned Christmas into a yearend celebration that everyone seems to take part in.

Acceptance of Christmas seems to be growing among second- and third-generation Muslim families whose children attend public school. Smaen Alloula, an Algerian immigrant who lives in Paris, says he does little to celebrate Christmas. "I will maybe eat a turkey," he says. But his teenage children are enthusiastic participants and are often invited to Christmas meals at their friends' homes. This year, his 18-year-old daughter bought a bottle of perfume for a friend who's of Moroccan origin.

French Muslim leaders don't object to the Muslim faithful enjoying the festivities. "In the 21st century, there is a universal culture," says Khalil Merroun, the head of the Evry mosque in a Paris suburb.

Bill O'Reilly must be very pleased. None of that "Happy Holidays" crap in France, no sir!

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