Saturday, December 22, 2007

O Dayspring - the shortest day

Tredegarville End of term school Eucharist and blessing of crib this morning with Father Roy. Around 40% of the children were absent. The reason? Eid ul Adha began yesterday, and all the Muslim children stay home for several days of feasting and visits. It's the feast that ends the Hajj in Mecca commemorating Abraham and the near-sacrifice of Isaac, but is widely observed as it's in the middle of the last month in the Muslim calendar.

Within the month we've had Diwali, Hannukah, Eid ul Adha and soon Christmas. If the festivals don't clash there's no problem with Muslim pupils taking part in Christian celebrations - last year a Muslim girl sang the part of the Virgin Mary in a carol service. This year I think I saw just one child in school wearing a hijab instead of a dozen or more, and possibly she was these because she comes from a country where it is not usual to have more than one day off for such a holiday. Practice is as variable in Islamic countries as it is in Christian ones.

Today is the end of term, and for me, my last visit until I return from leave, a fortnight into the school term. I shall miss that contact with so many children from all over the world. Their delight and enthusiasm for life is so inspiring.

Christmas at home for us begins early this year, as Rhiannon and her parents are spending the weekend with us before flying to Spain for Christmas and New Year. Any pretence at maintaining traditional Advent restraint is futile when everyone wants a family Christmas feast, regardless of the date. It's so good to be together, there's nothing more to do than give thanks. I can make up for it some other time if I so desire.

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