I wanted to know how Hello Holy Days! could better cater to the needs of Muslim women so I decided to find out what some of the biggest problems Muslim women face when it comes to our holidays. I found that Muslim women struggling most with our holidays are young Muslim moms, typically with children under 10 years old.
I conducted 15 minute surveys over the phone with 32 diverse Muslim moms across Canada, United States and United Kingdom to better understand some of the problems they face. Here are three of the most common problems faced by moms when it comes to Muslim holidays:
- Muslim holidays don’t have set colours, symbols or traditions that kids can get involved in (i.e. a 3 year old can’t fast)
- Moms juggle so many things at once, finding time and energy to focus on these holidays is a struggle.
- Muslim holidays follow the lunar calendar and some moms feel the dates creep up on them and they’re unprepared.
When asked to rank these problems, 75% of Muslim moms surveyed ranked the lack of colours, symbols and traditions as their number one biggest problem with Muslim holidays.
Why did moms choose this as their biggest problem? Here were some of the reasons.
- Small children’s learning is limited to simple tasks like colour and shape identification. For this reason the average 2 or 3 year old can easily communicate what Christmas is by saying “it’s red and green”, “it’s Santa” or what Halloween is by saying “it’s orange and black”, “it’s pumpkins.” Small children are having difficulty understanding what is Ramadan or Eid because they don’t have the capability yet to learn concepts like “fasting” or “prayer” (this understanding starts to kick in around 6-7 years old). It hurts moms when their toddler or preschooler is more excited about Christmas, for example, than about Muslim holidays. Some reported it also makes them feel guilty as a parent, particularly when the child was the firstborn.
- When their child sees that other families celebrate with the same colours and symbols that they do, It creates a sense of community and makes children feel like they belong to something
- It’s what gets kids excited
- It’s easier to prepare for (you don’t have to come up with a theme on your own like you would for a birthday party)
- It’s easier to communicate with the rest of North American society
- It’s easier for public school teachers, day care providers and educators who would like to teach about diversity so all children feel accepted
- A few moms reported their children don’t celebrate any other North American holidays, including birthdays. Moms would like Muslim holidays to be visual to make up for their child’s lack of participation in everything else.
- Majority of moms reported their children celebrate birthdays and participate in several other North American holidays but because moms are raising these children as Muslims, it’s important to moms their kids care about these holidays.
Why don’t 25% of the moms surveyed want set colours and symbols for Muslim holidays?
- They prefer to teach their kids that not all holidays need to have a prescribed theme
- They find it liberating that they can choose a different theme of their own choice each year
- They’re already set on using green which they regard as the colour of Islam
Based on these findings, things are changing at Hello Holy Days! to include a focused theme of colours and symbols. Please see our colours page and symbols page. Sometimes we don’t glorify things as “traditions”, so you can also check out our traditions page to see an outline of Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr traditions. We’ll also be sharing ways to get kids involved in each tradition.
I’d love to know how these numbers stand when a large group of Muslim moms is surveyed. If you’re a Muslim mom or single dad, take our survey and let your opinion count. (You will need to read the colours and symbols pages in order to take the survey).