Christmas in Iran Past & Present
25 Dec 2010 17:54
Christmas 2010In recent years, the signs of celebration have moved into other parts of the Iranian capital. In an overwhelmingly Shia Muslim city, the municipal authorities now put up banners celebrating the birth of Jesus on most of the main streets.
For the last few years, Christmas has roughly coincided with Ashura, the most important date in the Shia calendar, commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hossein. Ashura has its own tradition of banners, so that on some streets happy images of Santa Claus can be seen alongside the imagery of mourning.
Christmas trees and decorations sell well even though they are fairly expensive. A two-metre real tree is a luxury item that can cost the equivalent of 1,000 US dollars, while a cheaper and smaller plastic version sells for 100 dollars or less. read full article
The artificial trees are more popular these days, and generally come in from China or Southeast Asia. Strangely enough, traders say some of the figures of Santa and his reindeer are brought into Iran from Saudi Arabia.
Christmas tree sellers say about half their customers are not Christians.
Two years earlier...
In the holy city of Mashhad, one of the most revered among Shia Muslims, and even on Naderi Street, near the shrine of the eighth Shia Imam, small decorated Christmas trees were on display in store windows.
Though not quite rising to the status of an unofficial holiday in Iran, Christmas festivities have been increasingly popular among Iran's young. Holiday greetings were swapped enthusiastically by those who dwell online and in the Persian blogosphere. This in part has a religious basis as Muslims acknowledge the birth of Jesus Christ and recognize him as one of God's holy messengers. In that respect, Christmas well wishes were not unheard of among Iranian officials, including Majlis' three Christian members of parliament -- and even President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad whose Christmas address to the people of Britain was televised on the U.K.'s Channel 4. read full article
Photo: Opposition Leader Mehdi Karroubi pays a visit to priest.