Muslim-Canadian's 'first Christmas' goes viral

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Mohammad Hussain with his roommatesImage source, Mohammad Hussain
Image caption,
Mohammad Hussain with his roommates getting ready for Christmas

A Muslim man's experience of celebrating Christmas for the first time has struck a chord after he shared his observations of the holiday.

Mohammad Hussain, who lives in Canada, decided to celebrate the holiday with his two roommates since they were all in lockdown together.

His initiation into the Christmas spirit - from tree trimming to meal planning - left quite an impression.

So he shared his "notes" on Twitter, where they quickly went viral.

Now, the 25-year-old student is looking forward to his first-ever Christmas morning.

"I'll feel like Harry Potter," he told the BBC.

While Mr Hussain had celebrated some aspects of Christmas before - such as attending office Christmas parties or going to a friend's house on Christmas Eve - growing up in a Muslim household, he had "never done the whole production, because there was no reason to".

Media caption,

How you and your family can celebrate Christmas and minimise the spread of coronavirus

Due to the pandemic, he and his roommates won't be going home over the holidays, so they started brainstorming ways to celebrate just amongst themselves. When one roommate suggested making a 12-course dinner, Mr Hussain agreed to go all-in.

"I just wanted to get involved and help them out," he said. But he soon realised he would have to step up his Christmas game.

"I couldn't help but notice they were much, much better at it than I was. The example I come to is we were doing the garland around the staircase and I was really struggling, and my roommate was going at the speed of light."

He noticed other things as well - such as how people had attachments to certain tree ornaments, or certain foods. He decided to share these stray observations on Twitter, where they have been re-shared over 100,000 times.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

After his thread took off, a friend suggested he add some links to charities in need, and so he started raising money for two local food banks, Milton Halal Foodbank and Parkdale Food Centre.

"It's been absolutely amazing," he says. "So many people have been giving out to those charities, so many people have been saying nice things."

While many aspects of the holiday were new to him, one of the things he realised was that everyone celebrates it in their own way, and that compromising on how to spend Christmas together is as much a part of the season as Santa's elves and candy canes (the latter is a treat he says he could live without).

"I saw that negotiating happening with my roommates - there are some things that even they have to come to terms with," he says.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

One thing that still confuses him is how you have to wait for presents.

"I think the waiting for the gifts is just something that confuses me - they're right there!"

The roommates decided they will all open one gift on Christmas Eve and then the rest of the presents in the morning. Mr Hussain says he can't wait to see the faces of his roommates when they open his: "I killed it".

On Christmas day, they will play board games and sit down to the aforementioned 12-course dinner (his roommates love to cook).

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

In the new year, he says he'd like to celebrate some Muslim holidays with them as well, and even joked on Twitter about organising a Secret Santa for Eid.

"I think you could literally drop us anywhere and we'd be like 'Yah! We'll celebrate it if someone lets us,'" he says.