In Iraq, Christmas Is Becoming Many Muslims' Favorite New Holiday

In Iraq, Christmas Is Becoming Many Muslims' Favorite New Holiday

Andrew H. Sweet

In Baghdad, the city council has placed Christmas trees at intersections, and many big hotels and restaurants have decorated for Christmas.

Christmas has been classified as a holiday in Iraq since 2018, but that designation was up for annual renewal. Now it's permanent, which is relatively unusual in the Middle East. While they may celebrate Christmas in some fashion, only four other nations out of 20 in Iraq's vicinity — Sudan, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon — recognize Christmas officially.

Most Iraqi Christmas celebrations do not appear to be particularly connected to the festival's contemporary religious origins. Its most popular symbol here and elsewhere in the Middle East tends to be a bountifully-decorated Christmas tree, a throwback to winter solstice celebrations.

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