Celebrating Christmas in Saudi Arabia

Do you know someone who’s residing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? Or are you perhaps planning to spend the year-end in this Arab nation for work or other reasons? If so, you might be interested in knowing how residents in this nation celebrate Christmas. Or if they do not, you might want to know why.

In this post, we will take a look at how the residents in Saudi Arabia celebrate Christmas. We will also talk about the cultural beliefs that have influenced their way of celebrating this Christian holiday. Here are some things you must know about the Christmas celebrations in Saudi Arabia.

Celebrating Christmas in Saudi Arabia

How Do Residents in Saudi Arabia Celebrate Christmas?

The Christian holiday known as Christmas is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. This is observed in various countries around the world.

In Saudi Arabia, though, Christmas is not celebrated. However, some Christians live in the country and are allowed to celebrate the holiday privately. There are no public Christmas celebrations in the country.

So as you might imagine, there aren’t any Christmas decorations or lights that are seen during this time of year. The Saudi government does not allow any public displays of Christmas decorations and lights as they consider it against their religion, Islam.

In Saudi Arabia, Christmas is not considered a religious holiday. Unlike Christianity, Islam doesn’t commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.

It’s also worth noting that Christmas in the country is regarded as a foreign holiday. Most people celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr instead.

Many Saudis consider Christmas a secular festival that’s not relevant to their culture. They instead celebrate the arrival of winter, as this is a time for family gatherings and happiness.

While Christmas is not widely celebrated in Saudi Arabia, the country’s residents still enjoy the season. They can be found going to the movies, dining out, or buying gifts for their relatives.

Where to Buy Christmas Trees, Decors, and Gifts in Saudi Arabia

In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Christmas trees and glittering ornaments can be found at some gift shops, which used to be an unthinkable sight. The festive sales have gradually started to take place in the capital following the country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s pledge to establish a more moderate and open society.

If you are looking for places to buy Christmas trees, decorations, and gifts in Riyadh, don’t expect to be spoilt for options. But from what it’s been reported, you can find some retailers selling Christmas decorations and even trees. They are not exactly aplenty, but they do exist in some malls and shopping centers. You may also want to check popular online stores like Souq.com and Amazon.

Changing Times

Christmas celebrations are an important component of Saudi Arabia’s reform agenda. According to reports, people in the Kingdom sometimes celebrated privately but never saw decorations or festive lights outside.

After greeting family and friends, some residents will likely watch Christmas movies and enjoy hot chocolate and FaceTiming with them.

The Saudi government is eager to promote a culture of tolerance. However, many people in the Kingdom seem to have difficulty understanding the concept.

Saudi Arabia is a conservative Islamic country, and its citizens have not been exposed to the secularism of Western countries. The government has banned “Christmas trees” from being displayed in public places, but some people have ignored the ban.

However, if you’re a big fan of the holiday celebrations, there are definitely more ways than one for you to do so, without getting into trouble.

How do Christians Celebrate Christmas in Saudi Arabia?

Celebrating Christmas in Saudi Arabia

No Holiday on Christmas

The absence of a national holiday in Saudi Arabia is the most significant difference between the Christmas celebrations held there and those held in other countries. The majority of Christians choose to work during the day and then unwind at night.

Christmas Eve

It should not even be a question that Christmas Eve marks the beginning of the Christmas season. Christians in Saudi Arabia deck their halls by adorning their homes with colorful lights and the traditional Christmas tree. The traditional holiday hues of red and green are used throughout the home’s décor. On the evening before Christmas, Christians celebrate by adorning their houses with festive decorations and getting together with one another to recount the reason for the holiday.

Visiting Churches

Morning services are held at churches across the world that are attended by Christians. People in Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, are unable to celebrate Christmas in this way because the country does not have any churches. They search for different ways to celebrate since they are aware that they won’t be able to take pleasure in it the way it is now being done.

Christmas Tree

If you are hosting a Christmas lunch or dinner, as well as a party, at your house, you are most likely to have a Christmas tree. The Christmas tree is adorned with lights as well as small balls, stars, and other decorations. The gifts are put in a pile close to the tree.

Christmas Parties

In the major cities of Saudi Arabia, there are a number of western compounds where devout Christians gather to spend the Christmas holiday. Despite the fact that these Christmas parties are held in secret and the wider public is not aware of them, messages are nevertheless passed along inside the group.

At these gatherings, both a Christmas tree and an appearance by Santa Clause are guaranteed to be present. There are a number of games that are played that bring back memories of Christmas celebrations in your own country.

However, following the arrest of 17 people at a Halloween party in Riyadh, the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia has issued a warning to its citizens to refrain from attending any Christmas celebrations.

As a result of the fact that several embassies and consulates throw Christmas parties at a variety of compounds and invite notable individuals, making these events typically secure.

Christmas Dinners/Lunch

People make plans to eat together with their Christian family members and friends and host get-togethers. During the celebration, they will typically spend their time going to the movies, going to the beach, and visiting each other’s homes.

The majority of Saudi Christians would just spread these joyful gatherings out over the course of two or three days.

They would have a lunch or dinner party at their house on the first day of the event.

They would then make arrangements to spend the second day of their trip at the beach.

They would decide together on the first or second night of the first or second day to watch a movie on the third day.

Christmas Cakes

In celebration of the holiday, bakeries in the major cities of Saudi Arabia produce Christmas cakes. These cakes are not normally displayed at the counter; customers must ask for them to be brought out. At Christmas time, it is customary for people in Saudi Arabia to visit the homes of others and bring them a present or gift as a token of their goodwill.

Best Gifts to Get for Friends or Loved Ones in Saudi this Christmas

1. Christmas tree

The Christmas tree is very important to Christians as it shows their love for Christmas. Without it, Christmas can’t be complete. They buy and decorate long pine trees as part of their tradition.

If you’re planning on giving a Christmas gift to a Christian friend, you might want to consider giving them a tree. In most Muslim countries, finding a Christmas tree can be very challenging. However, with the help of online shopping sites, it’s now easier than ever to find one.

2. Christmas decorations

You can give your Christian friend Christmas decorations such as stockings, wall hangings, and fruit pendant hangings. These will not go un-noticeable.

Since Christians love to decorate their homes and trees during this special occasion, you can give them some colorful ribbons. I’m sure they’ll love them. You can also find a variety of other beautiful decorations online.

3. Santa red color velvet hat

A red Santa hat would be a great gift for the kids. For them, Santa Clause is a kind and gentle figure who they want to see.

If you think that your kids would love a red Santa hat, then they will be thrilled with it. In addition, there are various caps designs that they can choose from.

4. Christmas jewelry and hair bands

If you’re planning on giving something to your friend’s daughter on Christmas Eve, then hair bands and jewelry are a good idea.

If you’re looking for something related to Christmas, then get some jewelry that’s related to this season, such as Santa Claus earrings, cross pendants, and toy glasses.

5. Tablecloth, Chair covers and party decorations

This is a great idea to give someone special a gift as they would love to decorate their house for their religious event.

You can give your friend a red hat chair back cover as a Christmas gift. You can also give them a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Santa’s chair cover. In addition, you can give them party decorations and table covers.

6. Cushion covers

You can give your friend a beautiful Merry Christmas gift set, which includes various patterned and printed cushion covers. These are very reasonable and are a perfect gift.

7. Christmas Santa toilet seat

This is a unique gift that you can give to your friend this Christmas season. It is a beautiful seat that will make them happy and feel special.

8. Christmas dress

Christmas dresses are a great gift for a woman who is looking for something unique and different. There are many types of dresses that you can choose from, and these will make her look stunning.

9. Christmas wallpapers

You can give your friends a Christmas gift by choosing a beautiful floral or Christmas themed wall sticker. It will help them decorate their house.

10. Doormat

This Christmas gift for everyone will be a beautiful and festive doormat with a message of Merry Christmas. It will look great and will make everyone’s house look pretty.

Video: Christmas season arrives in Saudi Arabia

Christmas celebrations in Saudi Arabia were once an unthinkable sight, but in recent years, the festive sale has crept into Riyadh, much to the delight of expats. This unprecedented change is being driven by a number of factors, including increased awareness of other cultures, the growing expat population in the country, and the desire to create a more inclusive society.

For many expats, the chance to celebrate Christmas in Saudi Arabia is a welcome opportunity to connect with their home culture and share the joy of the season with their friends and family. The festive sale is a sign of the changing times in Saudi Arabia, and the increased acceptance of different cultures and beliefs in the country.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What do Christians do to celebrate Christmas in Saudi Arabia?

In Saudi Arabia, Christians decorate their houses with Christmas lights and a traditional tree. On Christmas Eve, Christians celebrate by decorating their houses and meeting up to revive the traditional idea of Christmas.

2. Does Saudi Arabia have Christmas cakes?

In Saudi Arabia, bakeries prepare various types of Christmas cakes during the holiday season. Although these are not usually displayed on the counter, you can ask for them. Christmas traditions in the country involve people taking gifts with them when they go to the other person’s place.

3. Is Christmas fun in Saudi Arabia?

Although some expats may find Christmas in Saudi Arabia a bit different, it is still fun. The country is known for its hospitality and efforts to ensure that all its citizens are treated with dignity and respect.

4. Do you need a Christmas tree for a Christmas dinner?

If you are planning on having a Christmas dinner or party at home, then you must have a tree. It’s wrapped with lights and has balls and stars around it. The gifts that are placed near the tree are also decorated with balls and stars.

5. How do Filipinos celebrate Christmas in Saudi Arabia?

According to Nonie Sagadal Jr., Filipinos in Saudi Arabia celebrate Christmas in various ways. Some individuals organize parties in their camps or accommodation, where they exchange gifts and sing together. They also dance to music during these gatherings.

Final Thoughts

For decades now, Saudi Arabia’s expatriate communities have been allowed to celebrate non-Muslim religious festivals, but only in private. However, some of the country’s biggest cities have allowed a few Christmas trees for the past two years. This shows that the country is starting to open up its cultural scene to more people.

Before the rise of openness in Saudi Arabia, the country’s religious leaders had warned Muslims not to celebrate Christmas or congratulate those doing so. However, now, the country is allowing Christmas scenes in public, which could lead to the holiday being officially recognized in the future.

This is definitely a positive step in the right direction. Saudi Arabia has long been criticized for its lack of religious freedom, but this could be a sign that things are changing. If the country continues to open up its cultural scene and allow more people to celebrate their own religions, it could lead to greater freedom for everyone in the region.

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