I’ve had a few people ask me over the last week about celebrating Christmas in Jordan and what it means when the country is a predominately Muslim country. Questions such as is it shunned upon to celebrate Christmas, is it allowed to celebrate, even if it is allowed is it actually celebrated and can you openly be Christian in Jordan.
Jordan does have an indigenous Christian population. According to the official statistics 92% of the country is Muslim with the remaining 8% being Christian. There are some towns in the North of Jordan where there is a Christian majority and other towns and villages where there are mixed populations.
The State religion is Islam, but the Constitution provides for the freedom to practice one’s religion in accordance with the customs that are observed in the Kingdom. In my time living in Jordan I have observed that Muslims and Christians live side by side with no major problems. Religious tolerance is very much the order and I have never heard about people being discriminated against because of their religious views. The Jordanians that I have talked to about religion and about their views on being Muslim or Christian very much have the view that at the end of the day it’s the same God that we are worshiping. I find this refreshing that people are able to celebrate and respect each other in regards to the things that we are have in common, rather than have disharmony due to the differences. Yes sure there are differences, but when it’s the same God and overall the same message it’s great to see people are able to focus on things that being peace, love and understanding between them.
If people wanted more of a reassurance about this tolerance and acceptance then you only need to note that in Jordan Christmas day was an official public holiday for the country. There were Christmas decorations and Christmas trees to be seen in shops and malls. People attended church services in the countries churches. Hotels and restaurants had special lunches and dinners for people to celebrate. Ok so it’s not on the same scale of a western country, but it is far from non existent or taboo to acknowledge and celebrate the day.
Christmas day for Jordanians, regardless of their religious standing, was about peace, love and understanding.
Here is a link to an article in the Jordan Times that further documents what I’m trying to say.