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Here the spruce trees have david stars, crescents and crosses.


[new york, usa] I feel a bit like BBC's Alistair Cooke, who for 58 years wrote Letter from America for BBC listeners across the Atlantic. I just moved to New York City and am going to celebrate Christmas here. That is, it feels like I am celebrating both Jewish Hanukkah, Muslim Eid and Christian Christmas, all at the same time. A delightful mix sprung to the best of what the golden age of American commercialism can offer.

- You do not happen to be Jewish, are you, a young boy with a kipa on his head asks me along Madison Avenue. I answer no, but wish him a good Hanukkah celebration. He invites Jews in New York to his congregation to celebrate the holiday together, he explains to me.

- Eid mubarik, says my Iraqi shoemaker, I know it's a little early but I do not know if we will see you again before Eid, he says and smiles.

- Merry Christmas! Have an awesome one, Jamaican Lucie wants me and hands me my Starbucks coffee latte extra shot skimmed milk ginger bread flavor (which by the way is not recommended).

In the stores, hanukkah, Christmas and eid cards are sold for each other. Together with the non-religious: Season`s Greetings! And Happy Holidays! The streets are adorned with all kinds of glitter, it smells of spruce and actually also cinnamon and cloves. The shops, depending on which area you are in, play three festive music. The multicultural side by side is dazzlingly beautiful and seems both a bit confusing and quite natural at the same time. The streets and avenues are full of people who shop in and out and want each other about one another or the other. You get a Christmas, Hanukkah or Eid discount depending on what suits you.

I talk to a shop owner who tells me that behind this glamor and harmony is competition for which holiday gets the most attention. That's why you have little boys walking around asking if you are Jewish.

- It is easy to be corrupted by the wrong religion in this symbol mecca, claims the same store owner.

You can also if you want to play "holiday-a-la-carte", that is, pick a little of what you want, mix a little and celebrate a little of each. As we who believe we are multicultural do: Last week I celebrated Hanukkah with Jewish friends, December 24 I celebrated Christmas with stick meat and went to Seamen's Church, and on December 29 I was invited to Eid party lunch.

Being on an apartment search in the midst of these holidays is also fascinating. In various ascents hang all sorts of symbols and greetings. From the most extreme to the most banal. From the most religious to the non-religious.

Take, for example, the "Christmas" trees, I've seen spruce trees with david stars, crescents and crosses. You also have those with peacocks. The non-religious ones. Flagg sees one not here. Not on the trees. But there is no shortage of flags here. Stars and stripes of all kinds. I always thought it was strange with Norwegian flags on the Christmas tree. I remember my brother and I insisted on drawing flags of small Pakistani flags so that the Christmas tree at home in Lillehammer should have both Norwegian and Pakistani flags on each other.

Here at the UN headquarters, they sell Christmas tree decorations, but not flagpoles. They sell symbols of all kinds. Symbols of the many religions, cultures and ethnicities. Then you can choose and reject as you wish – and create a holiday you are comfortable with! Happy multicultural holiday from NYC!

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