For those knee-deep in festive traditions and rituals, the quirks of Christmas may not be instantly apparent. However, Mohammad Hussain, a political adviser based in Ottawa, Canada, is currently living through the run-up to his "first proper Christmas", and has documented his hilarious findings on a Twitter thread.
Hussain explained on Twitter: "Growing up, my Muslim family never celebrated Christmas. This year I am not going home, because pandemic, so my roommates are teaching me how to have my first proper Christmas. I am approaching this with anthropological precision."
"Observation 1: Christmas is a part-time job that you have from mid-November to the end of December," he joked. "I always thought you put up a tree and then gave gifts to family. This is a lie."
He also commented on the fact that "every free moment you have will be spent agonising over the gifts you must buy" or putting lights up outside your house.
"Observation 2: People have very strong feelings about their Christmas traditions," he remarked. "If someone is insisting that *certain food* is what you have to eat Christmas morning, because that's their family tradition, do not suggest alternative."
Getting into the minutiae of tradition, Hussain wrote: "Observation 3: You can buy yourself a gift but you can't stuff your own stocking. I don't understand this one but I told my roommate I bought stuff for my stocking and they said that's not a thing. I don't care. I bought myself mint chapstick and I will fake surprise."
He has been encouraged to treat himself to a bauble for the tree, explaining: "There are two streams of Christmas ornaments. The 'fillers" and the 'keepers'. The fillers are the generic ones. The keepers are meant to be more special and unique. This second stream is stored in your family's reliquary to be one day passed on to the children."
His roommates encouraged him to buy a "keeper" decoration of his own, which he did:
The fact that Christmas can be very expensive was the focus of not one, but two observations: "Your gift budget does not matter. You can set this budget as high as you want but the perfect gift will always be $10 too expensive. There is no winning. Just give up" and "ornaments are expensive. That cost me $15.99. That's more than three everything bagels. I am furious."
He then turned his focus to the religious side of the holiday, writing: "The religious aspect of Christmas is optional. I really like this one. If I was to suggest having a secular Ramadan to my mother she would have a heart attack. I will, however, be trying to get my family to do a Secret Santa for Eid. The name's being workshopped."
His final observation looked to the food eaten on, and planned for, Christmas Day.
"Observation 8: You need a 'menu'. Yeah ... This one is where they lost me. Last Christmas my family ordered Popeyes and watched a movie."
To conclude his thread, he wrote: "To wrap things up I want to applaud longtime Christmas celebrators. This is a lot of work and very tiring. 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."
His thread has since gone viral, racking up more than 6,200 comments, 80,300 retweets and 316,900 likes on his first post. Since it "blew up", Hussain has taken to the end of his thread to encourage people to donate to a number of Canadian charities.