Christmas Celebrations as a Canadian Sikh

5 min learn

When my mother was 12 years previous, she immigrated to Canada from Punjab, India. She lived along with her father and 4 siblings in Victoria, British Columbia till she obtained married. My mother acquired a lot of her Christmas celebrations as a Canadian Sikh throughout this section of her life.

Across the age of 16, my mother had somebody extremely particular come into her life, her stepmother, Shirley.

Shirley was Indigenous, a part of the Cree tribe and adopted the Catholic faith. Everybody who knew her, adored her as she shared a lot love with these round her. Shirley was a real gem of a human being, one of many kindest and warmest individuals we now have ever had the pleasure of figuring out.

She celebrated Christmas and introduced her circle of relatives traditions into the Punjabi residence she joined. A few years later, when my mother had me, she continued the identical Christmas celebrations and traditions.

She informed my dad all concerning the significance of the vacations – the tree, the presents, the household coming collectively, the meals, the pictures, and the house movies. Collectively, they made all of it occur.

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Yearly, my siblings and I embellished a Christmas tree. My dad climbed the ladder and put up lights throughout the home. We invited household over or made the journey to them. On Christmas Eve, we baked cookies and watched our favorite vacation films (each House Alone movies are on the high of the checklist), and not noted cookies and milk for Santa. Within the morning, we wakened early, snuck downstairs and located a mountain of presents underneath and across the tree.

We spent all the morning opening presents, laughing and simply being fully joyful. Then my mother would make cholay bhaturay for brunch (curried chickpeas with fried bread). The recent and heat bhaturay had been so irresistible that we continued to eat even when our stomachs had been able to burst. Since she cooked the cholay in a stress cooker, they had been completely gentle, by no means too spicy, and had been topped off with skinny slices of pink onion marinated in vinegar.

The remainder of the day we loved all the brand new presents we acquired and would marathon the Harry Potter films. For dinner, my mother would make a feast: a full turkey dinner. The unfold included selfmade stuffing, oven-roasted veggies, creamed mushrooms and potatoes, recent rolls with butter, blended salads and rice pilaf. The dessert was chocolate fudge cake or ice cream. The 5 of us sat across the desk, passing round dishes, smiling and savouring each chunk, praising our mom for every thing she blessed us with.

There have been different instances after we wouldn’t be at residence for Christmas. We went to my mother’s siblings’ houses, the place all of the aunts and uncles and cousins obtained collectively and exchanged presents. We ate numerous meals, danced, and danced some extra. Particularly on New 12 months’s Eve, the children stayed up after midnight. We cherished dancing with the grown-ups to our favorite Punjabi people music and celebrating life with each morsel of our beings.

Rising up, I didn’t understand that there was something improper with this custom. My mother had accomplished such an awesome job with persevering with with it yearly. Different individuals outdoors of my household started to query it. They’d ask, “oh you guys rejoice Christmas? I didn’t understand you had been Catholic!” I might instantly really feel embarrassed and confused, and replied with, “properly, we do rejoice Christmas, however we’re Sikh.”

“How does that work?” they’d ask.

I didn’t actually know the right way to reply at the moment. I informed them that my mother and father loved adorning, moving into the spirit of giving and coming collectively through the holidays. They created a lot magic and surprise with tales of Santa Claus. I attempted to clarify that there was nothing spiritual in our Christmas celebrations. We simply merely cherished Christmas!

My siblings and I attended a Catholic college from kindergarten till graduating highschool. My mother and father didn’t need us to go to a public college. Fortunately, we had been accepted right into a Catholic one, which on the time was not simple, as we weren’t baptised.

We attended mass on the native church with our classmates. At any time when it was time for communion, we crossed our arms over our chests in order that the priest knew to not give us the host. He would bless us by making the signal of the cross on our foreheads with ash.

We learnt concerning the Catholic faith at college. We knew every thing there’s to know concerning the bible, the delivery, dying, and resurrection of Christ, and extra. So, with Christmas, we felt conflicted. As we obtained older, we questioned if it was proper to be celebrated although we had been technically raised as Sikh.

I bear in mind seeing an Instagram story of a household good friend, a few years in the past, across the holidays. He stated one thing to the impact of, “unhappy to see so many brown individuals placing up bushes and getting caught up within the capitalism of Christmas, slightly than attending the Gurdwara.”

I needed to inform him, lovingly in fact, that placing up a Christmas tree doesn’t take away from being a Sikh or being South Asian. Being a father or mother now for over 10 years, I can see why my mom determined to bestow such a fantastic custom upon us. Our mother and father raised us to respect all religions and cultures, which is one thing I’ve taught my very own daughters too.

With my ladies, I hold my mother and father’ traditions and people of my late Shirley Naniji, whereas creating just a few new ones. As quickly as December 1st hits, we begin adorning the home. We deliver out the tree, placed on our favorite Christmas tune playlists, and begin the vacation film marathons. Collectively, we write letters to Santa, take our yearly household photographs, and print them onto playing cards that we ship by mail. We provide you with concepts about the right way to give again to our group and assist these in want.

Each December morning, we anticipate what Elfie has been as much as the evening earlier than, and the women eat their day by day sweets from their calendars. We like to drive across the neighbourhood and take a look at all the attractive lights that sparkle up the homes of town. Additionally, after a day of both shoveling the snow or constructing snow-people, we deal with ourselves to scorching chocolate with marshmallows whereas sitting by our (electrical) hearth. We make our rounds to all of the relations in each metropolis inside our province, Windsor, Waterloo, Brampton, Orangeville, Guelph, and Mississauga. If we’re fortunate, they arrive to us. However not even a snowstorm has stopped us from visiting household through the holidays!

[Read Related: Why I Celebrate Christmas as a Hindu]

Lastly, on Christmas Eve, my daughters and I bake cookies. Identical to I did with my siblings after we had been children, we eat them with milk whereas watching Christmas films. We always remember to go away some out for Santa earlier than going to sleep. Within the morning, we get up early, give one another hugs and kisses, and provides thanks for the household we now have, the house we dwell in and the love we share with one another. We wrap our arms round each other after which go loopy unwrapping all of the presents Santa left for us underneath our tree.

From my little household to yours, we want you a magical vacation season and a really joyful 2023!

Photograph Courtesy: Taneet Grewal