Saturday, March 1, 2014

Calendar Conversations

"In addition to the Sabbath, the Lord has established festivals, the holy occasions to be observed at the proper time each year."  Leviticus 23:4

“How do you say the names of the months in Arabic on your Islamic calendar?” I asked Layla. She enjoyed explaining how her calendar works and showed me the pictures of the mosques or shrines for each month. Our calendars differ because our religious histories differ. This gives us an opportunity to describe the significance of BC and AD. One of the easiest ways to connect with our Muslim friends is to converse about events or holidays listed on our calendars.  Many of my Muslim friends, including their children, appreciate receiving beautiful calendars; especially if they have pictures of gardens or outdoors scenery.

Many Muslims do not know what our western holidays or thematic days are all about. Every month our Canadian calendar has something to generate spiritual conversations:
January – New Year, February – Valentine’s Day or Louis Riel Day, March – spring or St. Patrick’s Day, April – Easter, Holocaust Remembrance Day,  May – Mother’s Day, Victoria Day, June – Father’s Day, St. Jean Baptiste Day/Quebec,  July – Canada Day, August – my birthday, September – Labour Day, October – Thanksgiving Day, Halloween,  November – Remembrance Day, our wedding anniversary,  December – Christmas.

Then there are Islamic holidays in their respective months:  Muharram, Ashura Day, Ramadan, Eid-al-Fitr, Eid-al-Adha/Qurban. For Afghans and Iranians Nowruz is their most important holiday.

Besides Christian and secular holidays, festive occasions, and Islamic holidays, there are Jewish holidays listed on our western calendars. Since we are a pluralistic multi-cultural nation it is beneficial to at least have a working knowledge of everyone’s special days. Our Muslim friends might not care about any holiday but their own, however, it is good to help them to understand what is important to other people in the homeland we share.

So far I haven’t engaged in conversation about Jewish holidays but I want to try it.  These are Purim, Hanukkah, Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I also want to try talking about the days noted which are full moon.  I’m curious to see if there is any significance for them about full moon days. There are all kinds of dates specified for walkathons, cyclathons, marathons, parades, protests/marches, festivals, and picnics like the teddy bear picnic. There are issues and causes behind these activities. Behind each holiday, event, or theme spiritual questions and conversation can develop. For example, when we talk about New Year, we can converse about new things. I love talking about the new bodies we will have in heaven. They are fascinated about that subject! When it comes to conversing about our birth date we can ask them if they know why they were created. What is their purpose in life? On Labour Day the principle of the Sabbath rest can be addressed. When Nowruz comes up and they concentrate on cleaning their house we can address how the soul can be cleaned from spiritual dirt/sin. We can introduce how God is our perfect heavenly Parent on Mother’s and Father’s Days.

I make good use of the calendar to introduce spiritual discussions.

Dear heavenly Father, thank you for giving me opportunity to witness about you through special days and events on the calendar.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.