I noticed that a German journalist wrote up a piece this week....talking of an interview with a Muslim guy (a newcomer) in Berlin. The Muslim guy....apparently in his late twenties....was spending his first Christmas in Germany, and kinda noted that he was a bit overcome by the German traditional Christmas....something that he'd never felt or seen in his life. The Syrian guy spoke of the festive occasion, the charm of the Christmas market, and the behavior of Germans in general.
It is this type of character that Germans hope comes across to the new immigrants and that it has some effect on their integration and assimilation into German culture.
I have spent well over twenty-odd Christmases in Germany and recognized the acclaimed theme that Germans place on the holiday.
I admit....it is commercialized. You can't get around this when you walk through the markets and stores. It doesn't matter if we are talking food, drink, sugary treats, candles, Christmas trees and decorations, lighting, chocolate, gluhwein, gifts, or the carols you hear in the background.
People wear stupid Santa-stocking hats.....put silly Christmas-theme costumes on their dogs....and put fake antler gear on their heads.
A Muslim can't help but notice this. It doesn't matter if you are riding a bus or train....standing in a grocery....or standing in the midst of McDonalds. A guy could stand in the midst of Burger King and note the background music....'Jingle Bells' or 'Silent Night' blaring away.
A guy spending twenty years of his life around Damascus probably never noticed much of the Christmas traditions or German culture. Now? He's standing there in some peppy and jovial atmosphere....shocked at the hearty and upbeat mode of those around him. The abundance of high-calorie treats.....cookies and fudge arranged in some fashion to put three pounds a week upon your body, and German liquor hidden carefully into various treats.
It is a carnival that a Muslim will be forced to examine and find some logical way to accept. An older Islam....having been around Germany for twenty to thirty years will simply grin and note that it's an easy acceptance and part of the culture.
There are around a half-million Syrians from 2014 and 2015 who've walked or rode into Germany and facing what might be their first real Christmas period. They see a mirthful and jolly crowd, and it's a challenge to what they've been viewing over the past decades of their life.
Maybe somewhere in the strategy of Merkel's vision ahead, there's some positive way that the German traditions will win over the new immigrants.