Mohammad Hussain, a special assistant for parliamentary affairs at the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Industry, on Saturday night shared his thoughts on Christmas celebrations.
‘Growing up, my Muslim family never celebrated Christmas,’ he wrote.
‘This year I am not going home, because pandemic, so my roommates are teaching me how to have my first proper Christmas.
‘I am approaching this with anthropological precision.’
Mohammad Hussain is celebrating Christmas for the first time with his roommates in Ottawa
Hussain shared a picture of the Christmas tree at the apartment he shares in Ottawa
Hussain then listed a eight things he had noticed about the way his roommates marked the event.
‘Christmas is a part time job that you have from mid-November to the end of December,’ he said.
‘From the outside looking in, Christmas always seemed pretty simple. I always thought you put up a tree and then gave gifts to family. This is a lie.
‘Do you want to sleep in on a Saturday? Too bad. Go put up some lights inside the house.
‘Oh you want to sleep in on Sunday? Too bad. Go put up some lights outside the house.
‘Next weekend? Nope. Every free moment you have will be spent agonizing over the gifts you must buy.’
Hussain, who on Twitter says he is of Pakistani origin, found that people have ‘very strong feelings’ about their own Christmas rituals.
He joked that if you dare to suggest an alternative to their Christmas foods, they would ‘stab you in the neck’.
In a comment that made many laugh, he remarked: ‘You can buy yourself a gift but you can’t stuff your own stocking.
‘I don’t understand this one but I told my roommate I bought stuff for my stocking and they said that’s not a thing.
‘I don’t care. I bought myself mint chapstick and I will fake surprise.’
Hussain’s Twitter thread was ‘liked’ by 170,000 people, in less than 24 hours.
He noticed that people invariably spent more than their budget, and observed that people had Christmas tree ornaments that were either ‘fillers’ or ‘keepers’.
‘The fillers are the generic ones. The keepers are meant to be more special and unique. This second stream is stored in your family’s reliquary to be one day passed on to the children,’ he said.
Encouraged by his roommates to buy his own ‘keeper’ ornament, he bought a bagel decoration – outraged at the cost of the decoration.
‘That cost me $15.99. That’s more than three everything bagels. I am furious,’ he said.
‘For what it cost, you best believe that I am insisting that it be passed on to my great grandchildren. If they break it I will haunt them.’
Hussain laughed at the traditions and rituals observed by his roommates, enjoying their fun
Hussain also observed that, despite the origins of Christmas, the religious celebrations were not essential for many people.
‘I really like this one,’ he said.
‘If I was to suggest having a secular Ramadan to my mother she would have a heart attack. I will however be trying to get my family to do a Secret Santa for Eid. The name’s being workshopped.’
Finally, Hussain said that he was bemused by the idea of ‘a menu’ – noting his friend had ‘an entire menu with wine pairings and desserts planned.’
He concluded: ‘To wrap things up I want to applaud longtime Christmas celebrators. This is a lot of work and very tiring.
‘I will say I am having a very pleasant time. I am learning that I enjoy Christmas music and gift purchasing. I am also learning that I do not enjoy peppermint.’
Hussain’s observations delighted social media, and people started sharing their own memories and traditions.
One told how they had watched their parents argue over Christmas lights every year, for 60 years.
Another, Rhea Liang, added that she had a ‘hybrid West-East Christmas’ where her father-in-law demanded turkey, and her mother-in-law refused to eat it.
‘Every single observation is correct,’ concluded another.