What Christmas Looks Like to Someone Who Has Never Celebrated It

In a multicultural place like Vancouver, many people are new to a season entirely consumed by the Christmas spirit

(Kristen Frier)

If you live in North America, it’s difficult to ignore Christmas — decorations, carols, events, gift buying, and all. Being a person from a different culture where Christmas is never celebrated, this festive season seems full of excitement and happiness. But from the outside, the tradition of decorating trees and homes, family gatherings, and exchanging gifts also looks very overwhelming.

Everyone from western culture eagerly waits for Christmas, and during this particular period, people can be observed as being more giving, cheerful, and kind. The Christmas vibes are full of joy. Even the thought of Christmas celebrations seems beautiful, full of candles and presents under trees, cozy fireplaces and sparkly decorations, home-cooked food and gatherings of people. Then there’s the overall festive ambiance of the season itself.

“Christmas is big — very big,” reads a post on the United Church of God’s website. “Schools and colleges commonly take a week or longer break at this time, some businesses shut down to give their employees time off, many families plan trips and get-togethers, and some people darken the door of a church for perhaps the first time all year.”

The fact that Christmas is so passionately celebrated is easy to see during the craziness that ensues during Black Friday sales. Everybody in the family starts making lists and creating a budget, which causes Christmas shopping to seem full of excitement and stressful at the same time, but if all the songs and movies about Christmas mean anything, it’s not all about shopping.

For people who have never celebrated Christmas, it seems like a festival of spending time with loved ones and exchanging presents in the spirit of giving. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this fundamentally. And for many people, Christmas is a ritualistic time to feel connected with others, which I think is valuable. That’s why some people who have never done so before have started celebrating Christmas in Canada.

Yet, for many people, Christmas is a time of sorrow. Many are not able to afford gifts for their family and friends. And money aside, there are cultural reasons for not being a part of the Christmas celebrations.

For instance, In Sikh culture, the seven days from Dec. 21 to 28 are known as the days of sacrifice. These are the holiest days in Sikh history. They are full of unparalleled sacrifice. The four Sahibzade (sons) of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru of Sikhs, were martyred during these days before they reached the age of 19. During this period every year, Sikh people celebrate nothing but sorrow.

Thus, to those belonging to the Sikh religion, Christmas holds no meaning. It seems like nothing just a time for fascinating decorations. For those with roots in the Sikh religion living in Canada, deciding whether it’s a good idea to get involved with the Christmas spirit or not can be complicated.

Still, Christmas is supposed to be a season of great joy for many, and people should feel free to celebrate the holidays in whichever way makes them happy.