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Monday, 24 December, 2001, 11:00 GMT
Scotland's multi-faith Christmas
Christmas scene
Traditional Christmas scenes do not include everyone
For many of us, the focus of Christmas is on worship, getting together with family and friends, swapping presents and having as much fun as possible.

But not everyone in Scotland, or indeed the UK and further a field, was brought up to celebrate Christmas for reasons of faith among others.

BBC Scotland community affairs researcher Seema Miah has been finding out what Christmas means to people in some of Scotland's diverse ethnic groups.

Mona Siddiqui is Muslim and lectures in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Glasgow University.

I enjoy Christmas to a large extent, and I do give cards and presents to friends at that time of year.

I join in with the festivities because I think it's a time for communities to get together, not for the religious aspect of it.

Mona Siddiqui
Mona Siddiqui is concerned that the diversity of religion is not reported

Obviously I don't put up Christmas trees and decorations like that in my house.

When I was younger, I did feel a bit left out at school. But my parents still gave friends presents and took part if they received Christmas gifts from other people.

Things are changing slowly. People are only talking about Ramadan in the media because of 11 September, and I feel that is just a token gesture.

There does need to be more emphasis on learning about other festivals of other faiths in the media.

Padam Singh is a development officer for the Ethnic Minority Enterprise Centre in Glasgow. He is Seikh and is the Treasurer at his local Gurdwara (Seikh temple).

I take part in Christmas because I enjoy the festivities and the fun aspect of it.

The Seikh faith celebrates the beliefs of all the other world faiths, so I feel I am following my religion anyway by celebrating Christmas as well.

Padam Singh
Padam Singh would like to see more emphasis on spirituality

I also enjoy the way the shops go about promoting themselves during Christmas, because that seems to be an American aspect of it that I think is very cheerful and fun.

If there was one thing I could change about Christmas, it would be to have more emphasis on the spiritual aspect of it.

And I would also like to find a shop that sells nice expensive Christmas gifts at a very cheap price too!

Parveen Khan is Muslim, and works at Positive Action in Housing as a housing information and training officer.

When I was younger, my mum would take part and cook meals for Christmas and give our neighbours presents.

I don't think she would have encouraged that if she felt her children were confused about their faith.

Parveen Khan
Parveen Khan enjoys the social aspects of Christmas

We also took part just so that we could be a part of it as there wasn't a high ethnic minority population in our neighbourhood, during the time we were growing up.

It's also nice to take part in things like the "Secret Santa" shopping expeditions so we can buy presents for other members of staff, and all the other staff events during the Christmas period.

I mainly take part during Christmas because it is hard to avoid and it is also a valuable opportunity to thank friends and colleagues.

Lisa Livingstone is a music student. Her mother is a Traveller and brought Lisa up as a Roman Catholic.

I celebrate Christmas because it's a good time to get together with my family and friends.

December 25 is Christmas Day for most Traveller people in Scotland, just as it is for settled Christian people.

Lisa Livingstone
Lisa Livingstone does not practice her faith

When I was younger, I was very religious and did all the things I felt I needed to do in order to feel that I was a devout Roman Catholic.

But I've become a lot more cynical about religion as I have grown older, and I don't practice my religion any more.

I also think it is unfair that there is not more emphasis on other religions, like Islam and Hinduism in the media and in schools.

It would be nice to hear more about those the festivals of those faiths too.

See also:

17 Nov 01 | England
Church plan to 'reclaim' Christmas
04 Nov 01 | Education
Children give for Christmas
27 Dec 00 | Education
Embracing the faiths
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