Celebrating Christmas in the region of Jesus’ birth
A reflection from Iraq:
Christmas has not always been a time of great joy in Iraq. At times, people from some faith groups within the region, including Christians, have faced being marginalized, persecuted and even murdered for their beliefs. But I am pleased to say that the end of the conflict has led to greater religious freedom. In 2016, Christmas Day was actually declared a public holiday for all Iraqis!
Christmas Day is a time for rest, family and prayer. My favorite part is eating together as a family – especially the kleicha! They are a traditional Assyrian Christmas dessert, like a cross between a cake and a cookie, filled with dates. Trust me, they are delicious!
This year, I hope the joy of Christmas is felt across all Iraq. Recently, there have been political protests in the country and many people have died. Last year the (Chaldean) Church in Iraq canceled Christmas celebrations and donated the money to help those wounded and orphaned in the protests.
It made me proud to be a Christian, but this year I pray that this is not necessary and we can peacefully celebrate the full grace and truth of the one and only Son.