When Canadian political staffer Mohammad Hussain realised he wasn’t able to go home to be with his family this holiday season, he ended up being stuck with his Christmas-celebrating roommates. Being a Muslim, this would be his very first time giving the holiday a crack.

That’s when he decided to review his Yuletide dabblings with “anthropological precision” in a Twitter thread. After all, perhaps the best way to examine a holiday which has an almost-hegemonic hold over a society is for an outsider to look inwards.

Hussain’s obversions couldn’t have been more spot-on, and in less than a day he’s already clocked around 100 thousand likes on Twitter. Here’s what he learned.

“Christmas always seemed pretty simple. I always thought you put up a tree and then gave gifts to family. This is a lie,” he said.

“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.”

Then came the food. More specifically, people’s attitudes towards Christmas meals.

“If someone is insisting that *certain food* is what you have to eat Christmas morning, because that’s their family tradition, DO NOT SUGGEST ALTERNATIVES,” he said.

“They will stab you in the neck.”

Imagine hating on prawns over Christmas lunch. Utter sacrilege.

The next observation was weird, but coming from someone who’s never celebrated Christmas, it’s an easy misconception to have.

Hussain didn’t realise you can’t put stuff in your own Christmas stocking.

Everybody knows about treating yourself with a present or six over Christmas but surely, he assumed, the same logic would apply to stockings. Wrong.

“I don’t care. I bought myself mint Chapstick and I will fake surprise,” he added.

Hussain also developed a pretty straightforward binary to categorise baubles into: fillers and keepers.

Fillers, he said, are the generic ornaments you buy in a pack and use to plug bare holes in your Christmas tree.

Keepers, on the other hand, are chosen with love, have stories attached to them, and are basically heirlooms.

Once again, he’s spot on. Although in my case, the fillers are heirlooms too, tbh.

For Hussain’s first keeper bauble, he chose a bagel which cost triple the price of the real thing. Heartwarming.

Many Aussies – and Canadians, apparently, in Hussain’s case – have never set foot in a church yet know their Christmas traditions inside out.

That’s because it’s become such a commercialised secular holiday in which many of us (myself included!) worship Santa Claus over the birth of Jesus Christ.

This, Hussain said, was completely foreign to him, but still quite interesting.

“If I was to suggest having a secular Ramadan to my mother she would have a heart attack,” he added.

“I will however be trying to get my family to do a Secret Santa for Eid. The name’s being workshopped.”

Finally, Hussain observed, everyone who celebrates Christmas needs a menu.

This one was lost on him, and on me, too. Is it a Canadian thing? Is he not actually referring to paper menus? It is not already obvious what everyone’s going to eat over Christmas?

Maybe because we’re still a couple of days out from the real festivities, he simply hasn’t had the chance to properly experience a Christmas Eve dinner or a Christmas day lunch.

Whatever.

Also, let’s just take a minute to appreciate how beautiful it is for people of different backgrounds to engage in one another’s festivities in a completely wholesome and non-dogmatic way.

How nice would it be if all of us did this with more celebrations, more often, going both ways?

“To wrap things up I want to applaud longtime Christmas celebrators. This is a lot of work and very tiring,” Hussain said.

“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.”

Image: Twitter / @MohammadHussain