December 24, 2005

IN THE “WAR ON CHRISTMAS,” CHRISTMAS HAS OPENED a second front:

Hundreds of young men decked with tinsel wander outside Senegal’s mosques, hawking plastic Christmas trees. Women pray to Allah on a sidewalk where an inflatable Santa Claus happens to be hanging.

Senegal may be 95 percent Muslim, but it certainly knows it’s Christmas. In fact, for this nation of 12 million it’s a national holiday.

Blame it on globalization, which has turned the West’s yuletide icons into a worldwide commodity. Or the Internet, or Hollywood, or the availability of travel that allows new generations of Senegalese to sample Christmas at close quarters. But mainly, Senegalese revel in the trappings of Christmas because they can and want to. . . . Secularism elsewhere may mean the freedom not to celebrate a religious holiday. In Senegal many interpret it to mean they should celebrate all of them.

Someone tell John Gibson!