By Loubna Flah
By Loubna Flah
Morocco World News
Casablanca, January 3,2012
The New Year celebrations reveal disparate positions among Moroccans over the relevance of such festivities. For Moroccans, the civil calendar bears no social or religious significance. It was adopted as matter of convenience for official and administrative purposes, especially as a link with our European partners. Many do not take into account the fact that the civil calendar used so widely was promulgated by Pope Gregory.
For most Moroccans, New Year’s festivities are mere formalities. It is commonplace to exchange wishes for happiness and success without performing any particular ritual. This transition from a period to another is considered as a rite of passage that invokes a need for a reflection about one’s motivations in life.
A large segment of Moroccans believe that the civil New Year is a product of Christian theology and so there is no reason for Muslims to indulge in festivities. Khadija, a graduate in Islamic Studies from the university Hassan II, makes a correlation between New Year’s Day and the Christ birth: “The Christian New Year is linked to a whole culture that stems from Christian beliefs. I see no reason why I, a Muslim, should engage in Christian festivities.” Sara, an undergraduate in the faculty of letters Ain Chok University considers that loyalty to the Islamic cultures should stipulates reservations about any kind of celebrations regarding the Christian year.
However, most New Year traditions in the West don’t have religious underpinnings. These traditions range from watching fireworks and the Times Square ball drop in the U.S., to burning effigies of public figures in Panama. Many people in the West have the day off and gather in clubs or bars to drink the customary Champagne. Most festivities include parties, watching the Times Square telecast with family, and counting down to midnight. These rituals are all fairly secular in natur. Yet some denominations of the Christian church observe the Watchnight, a time for prayer and reflection so it is a misconception to consider New Year celebrations as completely devoid of religious connotations.
Another segment of Moroccans distance themselves from these cultural and religious arguments and focus on business. In Moroccan metropolitan centers many businesses flourish as the year comes to an end. Sales and profits increase, especially for gift items.
A new trend at this time of year is for upper-class Moroccans to purchase luxury chocolate. Many Moroccans will purchase perfume, jewelry, and watches to give to their loved ones. But these customs seem strange and are also unaffordable for less wealthy Moroccans. Consequently, they don’t deem it necessary to invest time or sums of their modest wages in the event.
So should Moroccans celebrate the New Year or not? The answer is far from simple and contains complex undercurrents, ranging from religious and cultural to financial considerations.