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December 24th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

'What's Christmas without chopsticks?' How other faiths celebrate December 25th

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) -
Two days before Christmas, Imam Mohamed Magid, the executive director at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, preached about Jesus at Friday prayers.

"We live in a country with a majority of Christians, where Christmas is a major holiday... It's a reminder we do believe in Jesus. Jesus' position in Islam is one of the highest prophets in Islam," Magid said, adding that Muslims view Jesus as a prophet on par with Abraham, Moses, Noah and Mohammad.

Often when he says the name of Mohammad or Jesus in conversation, Magid adds the Islamic honorific "Peace be upon him" after his name.

"Jesus is a unifying figure, unifying Muslims and Christians," he said. The Quran, the Islamic scriptures, makes specific mention of Jesus and of his mother Mary. "It's very interesting that there are many places where the prophet (Mohammad) is quoting Jesus."

Christmas has a way of bleeding into other faiths in America.  The Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ in a manger in Bethlehem 2000 some odd years ago is ubiquitous across the country, even if the American tradition has leaned away from the sacred and toward the secular.

Christmas at every corner can be somewhat problematic for those who are not in the estimated 246 million Christians living in the United States.  But for some faiths, the season brings reminders of their own traditions.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

Magid said Muslims believe many of the same things about Jesus that Christians do: Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, he lived a sinless life, he raised the dead, and he preformed miracles. He also said many Muslim scholars believe that Jesus will one day return to the earth, using the Christian vocabulary of "the Second Coming."

Explain it to me: The Hajj

"Certain aspects of our theology are different," he carefully notes, pointing specifically to incarnation, the Christian belief that Jesus was divine. Muslims are perhaps the most ardent monotheists in the world, making them at odds with Christians theologically over not only the Christian doctrine of incarnation, but also belief in the Trinity, that God the Father, the Holy Spirit and Jesus are three in one.

The All Dulles Area Muslim Society is one of the largest Muslim congregations in the country with ties to 5,000 families in the Washington area. Some of the families do put up a Christmas tree and exchange gifts, which one member suspects is often more about cultural assimilation than religious observance.

"I think Muslims, although they believe in Jesus, they give respect to this as a Christian holiday, so they don't pretend to celebrate this in a religious way," Magid said. "A Muslim would not expect a Christian to celebrate his holiday."

My Take: Why we're skipping the Christmas roast

At the Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery three hours north of San Francisco, there is a small Christmas tree set up near the statue of the Buddha.

"Normally we just have flowers, incense and candles, but now we have a tiny Christmas tree. It's really cute," Ajhan Yatiko, a monk in residence who is originally from Canada, said. "It's more like a traditional thing, respecting and appreciating the culture of where we live."

During the holidays, Yatiko said, "The senior monk might give a talk to the lay people which might draw parallels between the Christian faith and the Buddhist faith, as well as the differences, because I think both of those are important aspects of interfaith harmony.

"Sometimes in the West these days there's a kind of tendency to clump all the religions together and say, 'We're all climbing the same mountain,' and I think the intention there is nice. There's a harmonious intention there. But I think it's much nicer to say, 'Let's respect the differences and love and appreciate the differences of the other faiths," Yatiko said.

For the monks at Abhayagiri, life is spent in meditation, community, celibacy and work. They practice Buddhism in the Theravada tradition or the Thai Forest tradition. In their faith tradition, monks cannot handle money, grow their own food or trade, so they live entirely off of the generosity of others.

That means every half moon, about once a week, they head into town for alms rounds, where they walk around in their saffron robes with alms bowls to collect donations. The new moon this week fell on Christmas Eve.

"Everyone we see is going to be wishing us a Merry Christmas, and we'll be doing likewise," Yatiko said a few days before Christmas.

"We don't touch money and live a very simple lifestyle, so the Christmas tradition of exchanging gifts doesn't work so well for us," Yatiko said.

Yet Buddhists are called to live generously at every chance, be it in material things or spiritual ones, so at Christmastime the monks bring a truckload of fire wood and a fruit basket to a neighboring Ukrainian Catholic monastery.

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"We do have some rather revered traditions for Christmas Day," said Rabbi Rick Rheins.  "I'm not sure if it was Talmudic or not, to visit the movie theater followed by a Chinese dinner," joked Rheins referring the collection of ancient rabbi teaching called the Talmud.

"What's Christmas without chopsticks?" joked Rheins who is the head of Denver's Temple Sinai, a Reform congregation of about 1,100 families.

"We acknowledge the importance of this day for our Christian neighbors and for my Christian colleagues. And so we don't celebrate Christmas as Jews, but we do thrill for our Christian neighbors," he said. Rheins said the celebration of Hanukkah simultaneously at Christmastime this year will mean he won't be bringing in any Christmas metaphors into services on Friday and Saturday.

As for the Christmas Day itself, including the popcorn and chopsticks, he said, "We encourage our members to do special volunteer work to relieve our Christian neighbors of their responsibilities, whether it's at hospitals or emergency services, to give them the opportunity to spend this time with their family and celebrate this sacred day for them.

"Christians and Jews, especially over the last generation, have really worked so hard to build bridges, not just of tolerance, but also have generated true mutual respect and cooperation," he said. He cited working to fight hunger and poverty together. "These are the expressions of a society where the differences in religion and the expressions of one's faith are less divisive than they are enriching.

"I don't think that was the case a generation ago," Rheins said.

Christmas has a way of seeping into Hindu traditions, as well. At least the tree and presents part.  "Because of the children," Uma Mysorekar, the president of the Hindu Temple Society of North America said.

"The children say, 'Oh, there's a tree in my friend's house.  Why not in my house?' So they will get a small tree, a symbolic tree," Mysorekar said.

"We do look up to Jesus as one of the deities of Christianity," Mysorekar said.

At the Hindu Temple Society of North America in the Flushing area of Queens, New York, Christmas Day will be filled with worshipers coming in and out.  Unlike other faiths, Hindus do not have a set day for communal worship.  The temple is a key part of Hinduism for prayer, worship and offerings.  Christmas will be busier because of the three day weekend, Mysorekar guessed.

Their temple even had a holiday party for the children.

Sacred Spaces: Inside a Hindu temple

"We have a holiday party for them, and we give them gifts and tell them what it's all about.  You know the Hindu festival of Diwali, it is more or less the same, where we give gifts and we meet with friends... So the custom is very easy to relate to."

During Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, lamps are lit in celebration of good triumphing over evil.

"Apart from the religious aspect of it - the concept, theme of Christmas - I think it's very much the same all over," she said.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Buddhism • Christianity • Christmas • Hinduism • Islam

soundoff (2,252 Responses)
  1. Reality

    "The following ancient parallels to Jesus' "miraculous" conception should be noted:

    Birth of Moses (Exod 2:1-10)
    Birth of Plato (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 3.45) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 507]
    Birth of Alexander the Great (Plutarch, Parallel Lives, 2.1-3.5) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 502f]
    Birth of Apollonius (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, I.4) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 505]"

    And some final words from Thomas Jefferson, not a contemporary NT scholar, but indeed a very learned man:

    "And the day will come,
    when the mystical generation of Jesus,
    by the Supreme Being as His Father,
    in the womb of a virgin,
    will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva
    in the brain of Jupiter.

    - Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
    Letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823.

    December 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • bint alshamsa

      The irony is that Jefferson was making a mystic claim just by saying that. He was engaging in the same sort of prediction-making that can be found throughout the Bible. At the end of the day, we can all decide whether we find someone's predictions useful and then decide how to react accordingly.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • .........

      act accordingly hit report abuse on all reality bull sh it

      December 25, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  2. Greg

    Jesus Unites Muslim`s and Christians......what a crock......here is the difference between Jesus and Allah....

    Jesus IS God – Jesus IS the only name that SAVES......there is nothing that Jesus has in common with a false god names Allah...........

    December 25, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Reality

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen

      December 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Reaper

      They're all equal mythological fairy tales but the blinded refuse to see it.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Steven

      Jesus would be ashamed of you. Jesus doesn't like bigots.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Lyssa

      The Jesus of the Bible was a bigot. If you can't see that then maybe you should go read your Bible.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • bint alshamsa

      Hey Greg, do you know what Arabic Christians call God? They call Him "Allah". You do realize that this name pre-dates the introduction of Islam, right?

      December 25, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • Meade21

      Have fun in HELL all you unbelievers, heretics and athiests....have fun with that........

      December 25, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  3. Linda Samuel

    Secular Christmas has little to do with the reality of the Sacred. Jesus was born in a manger, and Santa Claus was NOT one of the Wise men. The Wise men came months later, bearing gifts in their search for the babe. They did not arrive in a sleigh, being pulled by reindeer. The birth of Jesus has meaning to people at all different levels, just as Christmas has meaning to people at all different levels and all different faiths. You celebrate it your way....and I will celebrate it my way.This is a season for families, for peace, for celebrating life.....don't begrudge me my reality, celebrate your own.

    December 25, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Lyssa

      "begrudge" you your "reality"? Ha! That isn't a "reality" that is a myth.
      I won't begrudge you your myth if you stay out of my life which is based in the actual "reality"!!!

      December 25, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  4. Keith

    It's the evangelical Buddhists that really drive me nuts. The ones constantly coming around the neighborhood trying to convert you and insisting their faith is the only faith. [yes, sarcasm]

    Not to minimize the quotes from anyone else in the article, but the quotes from the Rabbi were definitely the best. The "let's volunteer to allow Christians to have their day off" part is what HUMANITY is all about. I'm not a Christian, but I found it the most heartwarming quote in an article filled with fine quotes.

    December 25, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  5. Plug1

    @ Hevensent/// you made the statement that Jesus, was born December 29th now get the proof to back up your claim.
    FYI....you won't find the proof of this know where because there is no proof of of YOUR!!! claim.

    December 25, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Punjab83

      Huh? Someone needs to go back to school, or back to bed to wait for Santa.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  6. COUNTRYCOOK

    Just ask ANY Muslim if Jesus is the son of God and see what they say.

    December 25, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Wonder Woman

      How can I have any respect for a religion that treats it's women like animals? I don't care if they believe in Jesus, if they don't respect human rights they should be thrown out.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • bint alshamsa

      Wonder Woman, did you know who carries out the majority of the acts of violence against women in America? It sure ain't Muslims. Do you know who carries out the most murders of women on this planet, between Muslims and Christians? Again, it sure ain't Muslims.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  7. Wow!

    Today is Christmas! For us Christians we celebrate our saviors birth on this day. Not because it happened today, but this is the day we choose to recognize it. If you don't believe in Jesus Christ, that is your choice. I am not looking down on you because of your beliefs. But if you don't believe, why do you feel you have to attack someone elses belief? If you are an atheist, what difference is it to you that someone else believes in God? Can't you take one day off of blasting other peoples beliefs and respect what they think? Merry Christmas to all!

    December 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Raven

      Fuck off and die, you insane, gibbering idiot slave of a lying religion! Get the hell out of politics before we hunt you down!

      December 25, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Lyssa

      I think that if you wanted to be surrounded by other Christians, you should go to church. This is the internet. If you want exclusive fawning rights over your holiday, then you should stay in church. Why are you stupid?

      December 25, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Wow!

      Raven, go ahead and hunt me down. I've spent a wee bit of time in the military and can assure you, it wouldn't end well for you. The other person, it's a belief blog, not the atheist hate spot. I just find it interesting that atheists clam onto a belief blog. I am not telling you to leave, but is there anywhere else you go but here? Politics what is that about?

      December 25, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Lyssa

      Why are you stupid? Silly me, I thought you were intelligent enough to answer. Nevermind.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Wow!

      Gotta add, this is the best replies you can come up with? I am always told that atheists are the intellectuals of our society, and are higher thinkers that us believers.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • RickV

      I am hearing of Christians thinking of taking a holiday, from acting like Christians. Instead, wearing their heart on their sleeve, and violently attacking anyone who attacks their religion. Suppose a judge decrees that a cross must come down, and the next day, a hundred thousand Christians come and dismantle his courtroom, burn down his house and hang him, the plaintiff, and his attorneys. Then burn down the next ten ACLU offices they find. It could happen, just sayin'

      December 25, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Punjab83

      I always make a point to stop and read the belief articles... No one can ever walk away not entertained. Both sides are always so funny. I love being Switzerland. Keep up the good work fellas!

      December 25, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Lyssa

      Switzerland is nothing but a cheap ho. You enjoy being a cheap ho? Okay.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Freedom of speech, wow!, even on christmas. If you want a christian atmosphere, go to a church. This blog is open to all voices, even those who don't agree with yours.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  8. mcccccccc

    According to CNN, Islam celebrates Christmas day by bombing Christian churches. What a wonderful, peaceful religion.

    December 25, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Ghani1992

      Yes, Islam is a peaceful religion. 'Islam' itself means 'peace'. And Islam doesn't condone the killing of innocent people. You may like to think otherwise, but that is the truth.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • KenSanDiego

      That is like saying Christians celebrate by hanging black people. You are talking about extremists, not Islam.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Lyssa

      5:51 O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk.

      Muslims are liars whenever they talk about Islam to "unbelievers." Always.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • COUNTRYCOOK

      Muslims believe in a DIFFERENT Jesus then Christians.A Christians faith is based on OUR Jesus as the only son of God, died on a cross for our sins, rose back to life on the third day and ascended into heaven and is now seated on the right hand of God. Muslim's believe their Jesus was not the son of God, didn't die on the cross and is only a prophet that will say when he returns that he faked death on the cross and that he is not really a Christian but a Muslim and has returned to Earth to turn everyone to Islam or be beheaded. Their Jesus is OUR (Christians) Anti-Christ in the book of Revelation.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • Lyssa

      "Islam" does NOT mean "peace." Never did. What a bald-faced lie. How typically Muslim.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • COUNTRYCOOK

      Ghani1992 ...so peace that they just killed each other with many car bombs this week

      December 25, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Reaper

      Read the old testament and tell me that Christianity is peaceful. Also read the part that says that Jesus said he came to fulfill the old laws not to replace them. Stop being an ignorant a$$.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Steven

      Really ?

      Tell me, what church was bombed in Malaysia ? Indonesia ? Turkey ? Lebanon ? India ? Bangladesh ? China ? Iran ? Algeria ? Morocco ? ...

      Oh look, I listed most of the muslim world, and no instance of church bombing...

      Jesus would call you a bigot, and he would be right.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Sarah Levy

      Islam means to submit, it has nothing to do with peace. I believe linguistically the words are unrelated. FYI

      December 25, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • quan6679

      mcccc...you are comparing what happened with a crazy "Islamist" group in northern Nigeria to the entire Muslim world? So then all Muslims should hate all Americans and Christians when Muslims are killed on their holy days by American or Christian forces? I feel sorry for you.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • tallulah13

      And Keith and a few select other christians spend christmas on the internet, spreading hate and lies. Perhaps not as deadly, but certainly not representative of a religion based on love.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • Ghani1992

      Islam is derived from the Arabic root "Salema": peace, purity, submission and obedience. In the religious sense, Islam means submission to the will of God and obedience to His law.
      The Qur'an DOES NOT say that we shouldn't take Jews and Christians as friends. Lets look at the translated verse provided by the official Sahih International: (5:51) "O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people."
      here is a link to help you better understand this verse: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zw-oZN9d-Hw&feature=related
      I see clearly that the true meaning of the arabic word means 'ally' and not 'friend'. Also the Qur'an doesn't condone the killing of innocent people. Those who commit such acts against humanity are not Muslims and they will suffer in Hell. @Lyssa: I am not lying to you; it would be anti-Islamic of me to do so. I recommend that you get your information about Islam from the Qur'an, hadith, and Islam scholars. NOT from islamaphobes. Let's look at what the Bible has to say on the matter. (2 Corinthians 6:14) "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" Please research properly Lyssa, you are misunderstood I believe. @ COUNTRYCOOK: the Jesus (p.b.u.h) we speak of is the same that you speak of whether you fancy it or not. You should read chapter 19 of the Qur'an. The name of the chapter is Mary. A whole chapter named after the Virgin Mary. And such beautiful verses about her and jesus and zacharius (peace be upon them all). please visit http://www.whyislam.org for authentic info about Islam. You could also get authentic info from some world-renowned scholars such as: Zakir Naik, Ahmed Deedat, and Yusuf Estes (a Christian convert). The youtube link i posted shows Yusuf Estes refuting the claim that Muslims cannot befriend Christians and Jews.

      December 26, 2011 at 3:58 am |
  9. David Johnson

    I think the problem is, we need to just call Thanksgiving to New Years, the Holiday Season. We need to get the "Christ" out of an otherwise fine time of the year.

    The holiday season is for everyone to enjoy. Bringing the Jesus myth into the mix, just bums out non-Christians.

    Young Evangelicals are leaving their church. Islam is actually the fastest growing religion in the world. We threw Jesus out of the schools, now it's time to throw Him out of our holidays.

    Cheers!

    December 25, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • kr

      Only in your weird imagination.

      December 25, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • huh?

      Thanksgiving was established as a day to give thanks to God for blessing the USA. More Christ not less

      December 25, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Captain Planet

      America is a Christian nation and will always be a Christian nation, because values which formed in Christian Europe formed the basis of the Founders' ideas on equality and human autonomy, whether they knew it or not. And yes, destroying our Christian social structures by taking them out of the public sphere will only strengthen Islam – just look at France – and I would really be apprehensive about a society governed by Shari'a law.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Lyssa

      This is a secular nation. We have a thing called "law" in this country and it isn't from the Bible. The Const.tution is not "Biblical" nor does it give preference to any one religion or any religion at all. And it is the Supreme LAW of this land!
      Go read your Hitler books, Christian. You'll see he thought the same as you about Germany. He even talked like you.
      We don't need your stinking Bible here. We already have plenty of laws. If you want holy war just ask for it. Go on. Ask for it.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Punjab83

      Skoal!

      December 25, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Sillyme

      @CaptainPlanet

      This is not a Christian nation. It is a nation founded on freedom of religion, and this doesn't just mean YOURS.
      Listen when I say this because its important........... Religion of any kind has no place in the laws or politics of our country. Once you start down that road its all over. It leads to persecution and death and it is not needed in order to become a better country. Religion and morality are two very different things and they do not always go together. The founding fathers were very aware of this.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  10. Hello

    Religion is a joke. One day civilization will grow up and realize this.

    December 25, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • gremlinus

      But presents are AWESOME.

      December 25, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Brian

      Wow, you must be so cool to be such an independent thinker. You must be a thrill to hang out with.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Punjab83

      I would have to agree, presents are pretty sweet!

      December 25, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I'm pretty good with the day off. By the time December rolls around I'm usually out of vacation days, so I'm just happy to get a day off.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  11. Peikovianii

    In America, Christmas is a season when Jews write famous songs, black musicians play these songs in jazz orchestras, and a variety of white people sing and dance in the movies. I think it's time for certain CNN readers to give up and shoot themselves. They can never be happy, and life is too short for other people to be sympathetic. Three sux on a Glock and Merry Christmas. That's your present to the rest of us, and we'll have a Happy New Year.

    December 25, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  12. harold

    i think that it has come about time that most christians and others recognise that the birth of Yashwah (Jesus) did not occur on 25th Dec or even in december. it most likely happened in sept or october. but if the celebration of his birth is now done on 25 th dec well so be it. Only think is that Yashwah never designated that we celebrate his birth. check for yourself. he asked to do the last supper in his memory. and love ones brother as one would love yourself.

    December 25, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • ambi

      thank you, smh if people would ever think for themselves they would know he was not born in Dec, and I even agree that fine if you want to celebrate it in Dec do so but it's so commercial to me smh, people steal, kill and go crazy teh most around this time smh

      December 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    "'We do have some rather revered traditions for Christmas Day,' said Rabbi Rick Rheins. 'I'm not sure if it was Talmudic or not, to visit the movie theater followed by a Chinese dinner,' joked Rheins referring the collection of ancient rabbi teaching called the Talmud."

    As someone born into the Jewish community I really find this individual's thinly-velied disrespect for Christian traditions appalling. This is one of the most important holidays of the year for Christians, but it's clear from Rabbi Rheins' language that his observance of another religion's holiday is meant to be taken as carnivalesque and subversive. And yes, I myself grew up eating Chinese food and going to the cinema on Christmas day, but I only realized later that reserving Christmas for consuming Chinese pork was deliberately offensive (I had a Reform Jewish family) – and quite frankly our history of persecution is no excuse for such behavior.

    Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.

    December 25, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • toronto girl

      I am Jewish too and I didn't take it to mean anything other than what we usually do on a day when we don't have a lot to do. We don't participte in the mainstream celebration, so we find something else to do. The Chinese restaurants here are hugly busy on Xmas, what with Jews, Muslims and HIndus having little to but eat out, go to movies or maybe go skating. We joke about what we do on "Erev Christmas' and my non-jewish friends think it's hysterical.

      December 25, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Sillyme

      Im going to get some chinese food in about 10 minutes. Alas, its the only thing here that is open. 🙂

      December 25, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Captain Planet

      You know, of all the religions listed in this article you really do the most complaining...

      December 25, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • sam

      Sorry, but gotta disagree. The Rabbi goes on to say:

      As for the Christmas Day itself, including the popcorn and chopsticks, he said, "We encourage our members to do special volunteer work to relieve our Christian neighbors of their responsibilities, whether it's at hospitals or emergency services, to give them the opportunity to spend this time with their family and celebrate this sacred day for them.

      A number of my Jewish colleagues volunteered to work today.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • blablabla

      You know what? I think you're the Jewish Uncle Ruckus.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Lyssa

      What? Taco Bell isn't open? Oh no!

      December 25, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  14. Sillyme

    I was born chrisitan and converted to Judaism so I have seen both sides. I have friends of many different religions including Christans, Bhuddhist, Jews, Wiccans, and Athiests. To be honest I can see merits in all of these traditions and problems with all of them as well. I try to look at the world with an open mind instead of through the lens of religion. I admit that you cannot prove the existence of God but I choose to believe that he does because I feel that it inriches my life. I dont understand people who cannot admit this and use religion to condemn others or deny others rights. I know that we can all live together peacfully without forcing our beliefs on others through mutual respect. Eventually LOL..

    December 25, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Punjab83

      Well said my friend. If there was a "like" button under your post I would click it. Thank you and Merry Xmas!

      December 25, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  15. jamesnyc

    Considering Christmas is contrived on a pagan holiday? Nevermind.

    December 25, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • bperkins

      Actually, no it wasn't. Christmas is dated as 9 months after the Annunciation (when the angel Gabriel was sent to Mary to announce to her God's great blessing that she would bear the Messiah). The fact that (Annunciation+9months) => (date of Saturnalia) was merely a coincidence that the early Christians used to their advantage to get the holiday started.

      December 25, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  16. Ghani1992

    I am a Muslim and I can vouch for all Muslims when I say that Jesus (p.b.u.h) is upheld with honor and dignity by all Muslims across the globe. We have been taught the stories of the glorious messengers and prophets in our childhood. We believe in the Second Coming of Christ. We believe that when he returns he will banish all evil from the Earth and bring back true religion. We have also been taught that he, along with all other prophets, was never meant to suffer a brutal death. Instead, God ascended Jesus into heaven before he could be killed. Jesus never died but he will pass away during his second coming as it is his destiny. There is an empty grave already prepared for Jesus and it is in Saudi Arabia. I don't mean to offend anyone; I'm just stating what Islam has told me and my fellow Muslims. I would also like to reinstate that Islam denounces terrorism in all shapes and form. The real judge of whether a person is a true adherent of Islam is Almighty God and Him alone. If a terrorist claims that he is Muslim, believe it if you want. But I know and my God knows that they are not Muslims. For more info on Islam and its teachings, visit http://www.whyislam.org

    December 25, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • toronto girl

      I find it curious that you can honour Jesus, but have little or no compunction about killing his adherents??

      December 25, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Anonymous

      There are religious bigots in every group.

      December 25, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Ghani1992

      @ toronto girl: i have never killed any adherent of Jesus and i can never dream of doing so. Like I implied before, a person is not a Muslim if he/she kills innocent people in the name of Islam. We, as Muslims, believe that we are following the teachings of Christ, making us adherents of his teachings. People who do kill Christians that claim to be Muslims, suffer a fate in hell.

      December 25, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Lyssa

      Q'uran 5:51 "O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk."

      December 25, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • John

      Ghani1992: Thank you for your explanation. As a Christian, I believe that we are all made in God's image and we are to love all of our neighbors, as was taught by Jesus and is in the Quran. I am proud to call you my neighbor. I ask my fellow Christians to turn from their hate, for hatred is against the teachings of Jesus.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Lyssa

      John, you are either a Muslim faker or a Christian fool. Those Muslims are commanded by Allah to kill you, lie to you, and to do everything they can to force you to submit to their religion. "Islam" means "to submit". "Jihad" means "the struggle".
      All they need is to say you attacked them first in some manner. Then they will do whatever they think they can get away with.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Ghani1992

      @ Lyssa: Allah doesn't command us to do any of those heinous deeds. And the Qur'an doesn't forbid us from taking Jews and Christians as friends as i mentioned on 'mccccccc's post. (5:51) "O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people."
      We are talking about allies here, not friends. Here is a youtube link to help you better understand this verse: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zw-oZN9d-Hw&feature=related
      From the Bible (2 Corinthians 6:14) "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?"
      Please listen to both sides of the debate Lyssa. Islam is not what Islamaphobists make it to look like. Islam is derived from the Arabic root "Salema": peace, purity, submission and obedience. In the religious sense, Islam means submission to the will of God and obedience to His law.
      Yes, Jihad does mean 'struggle'. In the religious sense, it means "striving in the way of God". And that does NOT mean to wage war against non-Muslims. Let's explore this further.
      Jihad is an important religious duty for Muslims. In western societies the term jihad is often translated by non-muslims as "holy war". Scholars of Islamic studies often stress that these words are not synonymous. Muslim authors, in particular, tend to reject such an approach, stressing non-militant connotations of the word. The West has lodged an anti-Islamic propaganda and their main aim is to make Islam look evil. Let me stress that I do not generalize when I say the West, I am speaking about certain people who actually take part in Islamaphobia. I understand that the majority does not share their views but because their view is the most prevalent, more and more people are listening to the Islamaphobists. An example of Jihad would be to make the voice of the Muslims reach the West and proclaim that we are not what you make us out to be, we are not terrorists and we do not wish to kill you or force you to convert to Islam. All of that is Anti-Islamic.
      In Modern Standard Arabic, jihad is one of the correct terms for a struggle for any cause, violent or not, religious or secular. For instance, Mahatma Gandhi's satyagraha struggle for Indian independence is called a "jihad" in Modern Standard Arabic ; the terminology is also applied to the fight for women's liberation.

      December 26, 2011 at 4:53 am |
  17. Quotomodo

    A man can have se.x with animals such as sheep, cows, camels and so on. However he should kill the animal after he has his org.asm. He should not sell the meat to the people in his own village, however selling the meat to the next door village should be fine.

    -Ayatollah Khomeini, Tahrirolvasyleh, fourth volume, Darol Elm, Gom, Iran, 1990.

    December 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • huh?

      bull sh it

      December 25, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • toronto girl

      that is utter b.s. I am not Muslim but I just don't believe that an Imam would say something like that.

      December 25, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Lyssa

      Look it up instead of getting all huffy you guys!

      December 25, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • quan6679

      Dude, you are sick to make something up like this. Sorry you have so much hate in your heart.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  18. Quotomodo

    "Today Christians ... stand at the head of [this country]... I pledge that I never will tie myself to parties who want to destroy Christianity .. We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit ... We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and in the press – in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during the past ... (few) years."
    — Adolf Hitler, quoted in: The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, 1922-1939, Vol. 1.

    December 25, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • huh?

      useless as he who posted it and probably bull sh it anyway

      December 25, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Lyssa

      If you ever read "Mein Kampf" or anything else by Hitler, you'd see he was not only born a Catholic, he felt he was doing God's work in continuing the Catholic slaughter against Jews. Really, the ignorance of some people!

      December 25, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  19. George

    There are more nonreligious people in America than there are Muslims and Jews combined.

    December 25, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  20. George

    And what about the 15%+ of Americans who do not claim a religion?

    December 25, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Chris

      You tell us! 🙂

      December 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • gremlinus

      We just sit back and watch the madness. And get the occasion present as a buy-off.

      December 25, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.