We must first examine the meaning of the word “holiday”.
Holiday (from the Old English; Haligdaeg, which means holy-day):
The day or days of a religious festival.1
It is obvious that even from the definition of the word means that inherently this term has deep religious significance. As Muslims, we are only allowed to partake in celebrations & festivals that have been specifically dictated to us by our Lord, who is Allah; the Lord of the Heavens & the Earth, He who has neither parent nor child, and His Messenger who is Muhammad, the Son of `Abd-il-lah (Peace be upon him); the Seal of the Prophets & Messengers. The one whom the Qur’an was revealed to.2 As Muslims, we only have two holidays; the first being the 1st day of (the 10th month of the Islamic Calendar) Shawwal, which indicates the end of (fasting) Ramadhan. The name of this holiday is called the Celebration of the Feast.3 The second being the 10th day of (the 12th month of the Islamic Calendar) Dhul-Hijjah, which commemorates the sacrifices that Allah commanded Abraham (Peace be upon him) to make, like sacrificing his first born son, Ishmael (Peace be upon him). The name of this holiday is called the Celebration of the Sacrifice.4 Muslims are not allowed to participate in any celebration or festivity, which has any Non-Islamic origins, like the glorification of false gods.5 We also do not celebrate our holidays whenever we want to. Our days of festivities & merriment are standardized, and are only to be observed on the days which Allah and His Messenger (Peace be upon him) legislated.
Examples of some Non-Islamic holidays & their origins:
Initially, an annual Roman holiday of fertility, the Lupercalia (also called the Lupercalis)6 in honor of Lupercus, the “god of Livestock”. Each year eligible men & women (in every city, town, or village) would be paired together in a lottery. One of the rituals of this holiday was to slaughter innumerable amounts of goats, take the goat blood and smear it upon the eligible women, in the hope that it would give them the potential to conceive. As Christianity spread across continental Europe, the Catholic Church wanted to legitimize the Lupercalia. So, on February 14th, 496 C.E., the Lupercalia was renamed Saint Valentine’s Day in commemoration of two Catholic Saints, both named Valentine.
From the name Eastre, the ancient Germanic “goddess of Spring & Fertility”,7 the celebration of Easter was originally a festival commemorating the (Spring Solstice) first day of Spring. Many traditions of early Germanic Easter-type folklore have been preserved to the present-day, like the legend of the “Easter Bunny”. According to Germanic traditions, the Rabbit represented fertility. Another people that contributed to Easter were the ancient Greeks. According to Greek mythology, Persephone,8 (daughter of Demeter the “goddess of the Earth”9) was brought back to life, and returned to the Earth from the Underworld. This legend inspired the Greeks to formulate the belief that Spring represented life, while Winter represented death. Even the Hebrew word Pesach,9 which means “Passover” is linguistically synonymous with the Greek word Pasha, which means “Easter”. Many early Christians (who were of Jewish origin) added the celebration of Easter to Passover, in commemoration of the “Resurrection” of Jesus Christ (Peace be upon him).
Originally a Celtic holiday (from the ancient religion of Druidism). This celebration commemorated the arrival of Autumn & Winter. The name of this holiday was originally called Samhain, which used to begin on the night of October 31st. According to the Druids, the spirits of those who had died the previous year were roaming the Earth on this day. In order to appease these “lost souls” the Druids would make sacrificial offerings; things like food, and other types of gifts were thought to please the dead. Even humans & animals were sacrificed on this day. Large bonfires were also part of the general festivities. By the end of the 1st century, the Roman Empire swept across Europe, even to the British Isles, the home of the Druid-Celts. As a result, the Romans began to emulate religious rituals, and festivals of its conquered peoples. When Christianity became the dominant religion in Europe, the Catholic Church would often Christianize pagan holidays, in order to satisfy their newly converted (formerly pagan) populous. The holiday Samhain was no different. In 835 C.E., Pope Gregory IV10 changed the name of Samhain to “ All Saint’s Day”. It was later changed to “All Souls Day”, in 998 C.E., and would later be change to Allhallows Day or Hallowmas, and finally to Halloween. The night before Halloween was named Hallows Eve.
Thanksgiving draws its roots from traditional European harvesting festivals. These festivals commemorated successful harvesting seasons. In the British Isles, a very similar festival was observed on August 1st. According to the traditional method of celebration, this festival was only commenced when a harvesting season was successful; if not then the festival was usually cancelled. The official holiday (modern version) of “Thanksgiving” began in North America, with the Puritans. At first, Thanksgiving was observed on a non-annual basis, depending on circumstances. Usually, Thanksgiving was specifically observed because of times of crisis, or after some type of misfortune had passed.
Originally, a seven-day Roman festival known as the Saturnalia.11 This celebration began on December 17th, which commemorated Saturn the “god of Agriculture”, as well as the (Winter Solstice) first day of Winter. During the Saturnalia, the Romans halted trade, warfare, exchanged gifts, and even gave their slaves temporary freedom. There were many additions to this holiday, like the festival of Mithra12 the Persian “god of Light”. They would glorify Saturn & Mithra by making sacrificial offerings, along with other regular acts of worship. With the combination of the Saturnalia and the festival of Mithra, these festivities extended all the way to January 1st.
This marked the first day of the month of the new year (According to the Julian Calendar). As Christianity swept across Europe, the Catholic Church began to adopt and Christianize traditional pagan holidays once practiced by their new converts, as an incentive to keep them as Christians. The Saturnalia was eventually renamed “Christmas”, in honor of the “birth” of Jesus Christ (Peace be upon him), even though there is no known religious, or historical proof that Jesus (Peace be upon him) was even born in the Winter, much less on December 25th. In fact, December 25th was the birth of Mithra, according to ancient Persian mythology.
It has become very clear that the holidays so many people from around the world know & love have pagan origins. For those who claim to be monotheistic (particularly Jews & Christians), you must now evaluate what you allow yourselves, and your families to celebrate as holidays. If you claim to be an upright Jew or Christian, yet still partake in these types of holidays, then you have a serious theological dilemma. According to the teachings of the Old Testament (the Torah), idolatry is the worst thing that a human being could commit. However, the holidays that represent this same type of abomination have been preserved by the same people who claim to shun polytheism, and are still celebrated as though nothing is wrong, why?
Allah tells us: “They took their Rabbis, and Priests, and the Christ, the Son of Mary as lords besides Allah, and they were not commanded except to worship one god. There is no god except Him. Glorified is He above whatever they associate”.13
When Muhammad (Peace be upon him) related this verse for the first time to his Companions (May Allah be pleased with them all-together), one of them, a former Jew, by the name of `Ady bin-Hatim proclaimed that the Rabbis were not worshiped.
Then (Muhammad) he asked him: “Did they not make unlawful what Allah made lawful, and lawful what Allah made unlawful, so you also made it lawful? He (`Ady bin-Hatim) replied: Of course!!! He (Muhammad) said: That is their worship”.14 Based on that Prophetic statement, the Jews & Christians definitely worshiped their scholars, because they made unlawful what Allah made lawful for them, and lawful what Allah made unlawful for them, and they listened to their scholars. They worshiped them because they listened to them when they were wrong.
The fact that so many pagan holidays (like Halloween & Valentine’s Day) are celebrated by the Christians validates that statement. Allah also tells us: “So do not make with Allah rivals, and you know better”.15 The meaning of this verse is not to worship anything other than Allah, or give anything the same status that Allah possesses, like Divinity. Only Allah possesses Divinity, and does not share His Divinity with anything. Both the Jews & Christians are guilty of making rivals with Allah.
As He says in His Book: “And the Jews say Ezra is the Son of Allah, and the Christians say the Christ is the Son of Allah. That is their statement from their own mouths. They (imitate) repeat the statement of those who disbelieved from before. Allah has cursed them, they are rejectors”.16
1 Webster’s Dictionary
2 Noble Qur’an: Chpt. 4, V. 39
3 Fataw-al-Islamiyyah (Islamic Verdicts), the Permanent Committee of Islamic Jurists, Saudi Arabia
4 Fataw-al-Islamiyyah; Qasas-ul-Anbiya’ (Stories of the Prophets), Isma`il Ibn-Kathir ad-Dimashqy
5 Noble Qur’an: Chpt. 7, V. 138; Kitab-ut-Tawhid (The Book of Islamic-Monotheism), Muhammad ibn-`Abd-il-
Wahhab; The Right Way, Ahmad ibn-Taymiyyah
7 Encarta Encyclopedia
8 Encyclopedia Britannica
9 Encarta Encyclopedia
10 Encyclopedia Britannica
11 Encarta Encyclopedia
12 Encarta Encyclopedia
13 Noble Qur’an: Chpt. 9, V. 31; Kitab-ut-Tawhid
14 Musnad-Ahmad, Ahmad ibn-Hanbal; Sunan-ut-Tirmidhy, Muhammad ibn-`Isa ibn-Surat ibn-Musa ibn-ud-Dhahhak as-Sulaymy at-Tirmidhy ; Kitab-ut-Tawhid
15 Noble Qur’an: Chpt. 2, V. 22; Kitab-ut-Tawhid
16 Noble Qur’an: Chpt. 9, V. 30; Qasas-ul-Anbiya’