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Community Comment

Fri., Dec. 16, 2011, 11:31 a.m.

Christmas in Iraq…

Good morning, Netizens...


Ostensibly the War in Iraq is over. At least American's parts in this most-bloody vicious war is over, according to all the news wires. But what about Christmas in Iraq in this new “peacetime” Iraq? Christmas was first observed in 2008 in Iraq as an official holiday, and some of their customs, while quite a bit different from the materialistic West, nonetheless will be celebrated this Christmas.


  • On the 25th of December, a bonfire is built in the church and the faithful men of God chant hymns while the fire burns. A bishop, who leads the church officials in the procession, carried an idol of Baby Jesus on a crimson cushion throughout the church. The religious service always ends with the blessings of the bishop.

  • Even a bishop’s blessing is carried out differently in Iraq. He blesses people and touches one of the faithful men of the congregation with his hand. This blessing is then passed on to all the people beside and continues until all the people in the church have received that touch; it is called the ‘Touch of Peace’.

  • Apart from this divine tradition followed here, gifts are also a part of the Christmas Eve. Here, Papa Noel, the Iraqi Santa Claus, brings gifts and presents for the kids like Santa Claus in the west. Gifts and greetings are exchanged amongst the families. Visitors are also offered special food and drink.

While it is not known whether the fanciful tales associated with Santa Claus here in the United States, such as the reindeer flying Santa through the night to deliver toys to boys and girls, exist in Iraq, if one takes the tale of Santa and his sleigh flying around the country at face value, we can perhaps believe that the Iraqi military, much like the United States SAC-NORAD, are aware of Santa making his rounds on their radar screens, and allow him safe passage on Christmas Eve.

Thus the stories and tales of Christmas, once banned in Iraq, are now told over and over by little children in this once war-scarred country and that future generations will learn and repeat the stories of Christmas each year in Peace.


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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.