Every nation has its festivals. Malaysia, with its multi-cultural heritage, had an unfair abundance of festivals. The Malays have their Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which was the culmination of Ramadan’s fasting. Hindu Indians have Deepavali/Diwali, the Festival of Lights. The Chinese have their Chinese New Year, welcoming in the new lunar year (based on the Chinese zodiac). Christians have Christmas and Easter. Ibans have Gawai Dayak, celebrating the rice harvesting. And many more.
What is unique in Malaysia is the concept of the ‘Open House’, during these festivities. Namely, the various cultural festival celebrants, would welcome ‘all and sundry’ to their homes. There would be special dishes, cakes, desserts prepared, a wondrous palate for the senses. Indulgence and merry making was the order of the day. No RSVP was required because one did not need a specific invite for an Open House. All one had to figure out was the Open House hours. One could even bring others who the host did not know. Hospitality was extended to friends and strangers alike.
The greeting custom back in the 60s/70s/80s was that everyone wished everyone the festive greeting. Thus, we had non-Christians/Muslims wishing Christians, ‘Merry Christmas’. We Christians, even wished non-Christians/Muslims, ‘Merry Christmas’ when they visited us in our homes. Because when one really delves into the heart of the matter, wishing another person, even if he/she doesn’t share the same beliefs/culture, is just plain and simple, ‘good will’. Otherwise, if I, as a Christian, withhold wishing someone ‘Merry Christmas’ because I am not sure if that someone is a Christian, am I not then reserving my goodwill for only those of the same faith?
Let not political correctness nor religious fundamentalism be an obstacle to humanity coming together, to acknowledge and celebrate each other’s festivals.
With that, a Blessed and Merry Christmas to All.