Another religious holiday commercialized

I remember a sermon where a pastor pointed out that if it weren’t for commercialization of religious holidays, they’d be far less celebrated. This has stuck with me so much that it has changed my negative feelings about the commercialization of Christmas. Now I just wish Pentecost and Ascension were similarly “ruined” by capitalist entrepreneurs. I try to keep the liturgical holidays and seasons in my home but other than Advent, Christmas, Ephiphany and Easter … it’s pretty slim pickings.

So I really enjoyed this story about Ramadan from Huffington Post‘s Jaweed Kaleem. “Ramadan Business A Boon In Islamic Market As Muslims Talk Of Growing Commercialization.” (And don’t miss “Ramadan Start Date 2013: Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday? Muslims Disagree” by the same reporter.) Any reporter will tell you that they struggle to cover annual events. This leads to some systemic bias against the coverage of liturgical churches or against annual religious holidays, such as Ramadan. How does one come up with an informative but fresh angle on a story that is literally over a thousand years old? Here’s how Kaleem handled it:

Growing up in a mostly Christian neighborhood in southern Virginia in the 1970s and 1980s, Raana Smith remembers feeling “lacking” around the holidays. While friends frolicked at Easter Egg hunts and got giddy over the presents under their Christmas trees each December, her Muslim family’s traditions didn’t translate well into toys or games that other kids could understand.

Now 39 and the mother of a three-year-old, Smith is trying to help fill what she sees as a commercial hole for Muslim families raising kids in the United States. Ahead of Tuesday’s first day of Ramadan, the Islamic month when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, her Islamic gifts and stationery business, Silver Envelope, has prepared hundreds of Ramadan wares for shipping. They range from an $8.50 Ramadan cookie decorating package to a $15 “Rockets ‘n’ Robots” Ramadan countdown kit (the concept is similar to that of an Advent Calendar) and, for the ambitious, a $69.95 “moon-sighting party” bundle (the holiday period begins and ends with the viewing of the new moon).

“To say Ramadan is busy for us is an understatement,” says Smith, who splits her time between Doha, Qatar and Richmond, Va. “We are targeting people who are looking to revive the Islamic spirit, who are looking to create their own American traditions grounded in Islam, who want to help children get excited about being Muslim through fun products and characters.”

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