What is the name of Santa Claus in Arabic

Qantara.de - Dialogue with the Islamic World

"Santa Claus is called Baba Noel in Arabic" - How Christians and Muslim refugees celebrate Christmas together


Christmas in peace: four months ago the Syrian Hussein family fled, now they are looking forward to Christmas coffee from Germans. Many want the refugees to participate in the festive atmosphere. A report by Martina Schwager

Raed (8) removes the gingerbread crumbs on his pants. He takes his father's smartphone and looks at the photos from home in Syria: “My house,” he says in German and proudly points to a multi-storey building on a busy street. He knows that it is no longer there, like much in Zabadani.

Then he hops to the table in his great-uncle's living room in Osnabrück, stuffs a chocolate Santa Claus into his mouth and mumbles with his mouth full: “Baba Noel! Santa Claus in Arabic! »

The around one million refugees who made it to Germany in 2015 are experiencing the German pre-Christmas season for the first time between fairy lights, the scent of cookies and a message of peace. Many, like Raed and his family, are still looking for a new life and often with their thoughts at home.

The newly tested openness of numerous Germans helps the newcomers. "I yearn for Syria day and night," says Raed's mother Nour Hussein (27) and adds with a shy smile: "The fact that we are invited to a German family for Christmas coffee makes me grateful and happy."

It is Melanie Rakien's family who invited the Husseins. The 20-year-old law student Rakien has been the godmother of Raed's little sister Lujain since October. She picks up the five-year-old once a week to play or go for a walk. In the meantime, she has also made friends with mother Nour and father Imad Hussein (35). Melanie's parents found her commitment so good that they invited the entire sponsored family to their home.

«So far we have hardly had any contact with Muslims or with refugees. So we're a bit excited, ”says Melanie's father. "But it's a great feeling to be able to help." Most of the headache gives him the question of how they should communicate with each other. But his daughter dispels the concerns with a laugh: “It'll work out. A little English, a little German, a little Arabic and a lot with hands and feet. "

Many Germans let the newcomers take part in the Christian festival of charity. Employees and volunteers in initial reception centers and collective accommodation organize Advent celebrations and decorate dining rooms with paper stars, candles and fir branches. School classes and company staff distribute Christmas parcels, pensioners make Christmas decorations with refugee children.

Choirs and orchestras invite the immigrants to concerts, for example in the refugee church in Berlin. In an emergency shelter in Sarstedt in Lower Saxony, volunteers even prepare a barbecue with gospel music for the residents on Christmas Eve.

The helpers keep an eye on the fact that most of the immigrants are Muslim. But it is not an obstacle. “Of course we don't want to evangelize here,” says Sabine Weber, managing director of the Diakoniewerk, which operates an initial reception facility in Osnabrück.

The bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover, Ralf Meister, also has refugees as guests at Christmas. He had specifically urged Christians to invite newcomers to their living rooms. "It would be a nice gesture of peace and both sides could overcome their fear of meeting."

The two young Afghans, who have been living in a separate apartment in the bishop’s office since the summer, will celebrate with Master’s family on one of the Christmas days: "It will be a special celebration with a joint service, exciting for us and our guests."

The Islamic sociologist of religion Rauf Ceylan sees it positively when people of different religions invite each other to their celebrations: "A celebration is a wonderful opportunity to get closer and to learn something from the other."

It is important for the refugees that they feel accepted in this foreign country after the often terrible experiences of murder, war and flight, says the Osnabrück Islam expert. "When can German Christians show their affection better than at Christmas, the festival of charity?"

By the way, Christmas is also known to the Muslims, emphasizes Ceylan: “After all, Jesus is an important prophet in Islam. You know how he lived and of course that Christmas is the celebration of his birth. "

In Syria, Muslims and Christians lived peacefully together for centuries, says Abdul-Jalil Zeitun, Raed's great uncle. With him, who has lived as an imam in Osnabrück for more than 40 years, Raed and Lujain found accommodation with their parents after they arrived in Germany four months ago. "All neighbors and friends always visit each other for their high celebrations and give presents."

"Yes, of course," says Imad Hussein. «We have many Christian friends in Zabadani. We also talk on the phone a lot. We were always visiting them at Christmas. "

Zabadani in western Syria is now a long way off for Imad Hussein and his family. Assad's army destroyed his neighborhood with barrel bombs, he says and shows a photo that friends sent him. The pastry shop he built is buried under rubble.

You managed to escape beforehand. The four of them lived for a year in a small room in Lebanon. Her escape to Germany took a month afterwards. They even have their own apartment now. There isn't much in that yet. Melanie Rakien's parents want to give the family something for Christmas: Lujain and Raed get a bed and their first own toy in Germany. (epd)