In Qatar, December is the most festive month with the much-anticipated Qatar National Day, Christmas and New Year holidays and celebrations. It really is that festive time of the year!
The most festive month in Qatar begins with Qatar National Day on 18 December, followed by Christmas then New Year celebrations. Hotels and other venues around the city go all out to make this time of the year special for all (check the links below).
Qatar National Day
Qatar National Day is celebrated on 18 December to commemorate Qatar’s unification in 1878. Decorated with flags, lights and flower bouquets, the Doha Corniche is the most popular venue for the National Day celebrations, which begin with a ceremonial parade in the presence of The Amir, HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and other members of the royal family. The annual National Day fireworks begin at 8 pm.
Another popular destination on National Day is Darb Al Saai village, which means the ‘Route of the Messenger’. Located in Al Sadd, Darb Al Saai is a massive temporary installation created specifically for National Day, designed as an old Qatari village. Open for just 10 days annually starting 9 December, the installation features tents with cultural activities including musical shows, henna, horse riding and falconry. In addition, visitors can walk through several stalls for food, drinks and shopping. Many of Qatar’s leading companies and organisations set up large tents with interactive presentations and activities for visitors of Darb Al Saai.
This is a highly anticipated day in Qatar as key landmarks in Doha like the Corniche, Souq Waqif, Katara and The Pearl-Qatar, as well as homes, businesses and hotels flourish with decorations in the colours of the Qatari flag. Hotels across the country have dedicated teas and brunches featuring local cuisine to celebrate the occasion.
And Then It’s Christmas
There are many reasons to feel festive with the majority of the hotels and restaurants getting into gear to ensure you have the best Christmas season.
The festivities begin after National Day, with hotels inviting the public to join in with their tree lighting ceremonies. Go along, sing some carols, sip on some hot chocolate, and enjoy Christmas treats! The little ones will likely see Father Christmas, who somehow manages to show up at most hotel lobbies around town.
Throughout the month, a few local groups and organisations hold bazaars and seasonal get‑togethers.
If you’re planning to stay here through the festive season, take advantage of the many sumptuous dining options available. The range of choices on Christmas Eve and the day itself are boundless. Needless to say, there will be plenty of opportunities to get your fill of traditional dishes like turkey and all the trimmings. In addition, you will be able to enjoy everything from Middle Eastern specialities to Mediterranean, Indian, steaks and buffets, with live entertainment thrown in and activities to keep the younger ones entertained. Various price options are available but be warned, restaurants will be booked up fast.
Don’t want to cook? Just call! For those wishing to celebrate at home, lighten the load by letting other people do the work for you. Turkeys and trimmings are available to order from most hotels, as well as other specialities such as gingerbread houses, Yule logs and festive flower arrangements. Still too much hard work? Then procure the services of an outside catering team – events can be held at your own home or you can hire a private entertainment space at a hotel.
Goodbye 2018! Hello 2019!
Ring in the new year in style. In 2019, 1 January falls mid-week, on a Tuesday. But don’t let that stop you from welcoming the New Year with as much celebration and fun as you can!
Celebrate at one of the hotels or restaurants around town that offer something special for the occasion. From a quiet meal to partying the night away, there is something to suit everyone’s taste and budget.
Early booking is a must especially for the New Year’s parties at hotels, which can be anything from a Bollywood extravaganza to the romance of 1920s Chicago. If you really want to go all out, try one of the hotels’ VIP packages – for a fantastic New Year’s Eve, this will often include an extravagant dinner, live entertainment and overnight stay in a suite.
Most entrance tickets to bars and clubs will include a glass of bubbly or soft drink and a selection of edibles. Don’t forget to take your Qatar ID or passport with you.
The Day After the Night Before
If you need to recharge, or simply fancy another day out with friends and family to enjoy the first day of the year, unwind with a brunch (with or without bubbly). Most will offer activities for children at a play area, allowing the adults to have their own fun.
There are still plenty of things to do and see through the winter months. To know what’s happening around town, see the Events Calendar in the Discovering Qatar section. Visit marhaba.qa for our online, up to date calendar of events.
The Muslim View
Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s not a Muslim holiday, therefore Muslims do not celebrate it. It is considered haram or forbidden for Muslims to celebrate non-Muslim holidays including Christmas and New Year.
Although Muslims acknowledge Jesus’ miraculous birth of a virgin, they do not celebrate Christmas because the Quran debunks the idea of incarnation and resurrection. The Quran respects both Jesus and virgin Mary — known as Prophet Issa and Mariam the Virgin in Islam — by sharing the story of Jesus’ miraculous birth, his special gift of speaking from the cradle and his ability to perform miracles with the help of God. Muslims believe that Mother Mary is one of the greatest women to ever live, and a chapter of the Quran is devoted to her.
Muslims believe Jesus was sent as a beloved Prophet of God to deliver the word to the people of his time. It is not the practice of Muslims to celebrate the birth of their Prophets. Like Christmas, some Muslims celebrate Mawlid, which is the birthday of Prophet Muhammad on the third month of the Islamic Calendar. Most Muslims commerate Mawlid and its recognised as a national holiday. However, many Islamic scholars have denounced the holiday, and Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar do not recognise Mawlid as a holiday.
Like birthdays, many Muslims observe the arrival of the New Year although Islamic scholars have concluded that celebrating the holiday is haram. In fact, Muslims have their own new year based on their Islamic calendar, which has been in constant use for at least 1,400 years. According to the Islamic calendar, Hijri, the new year actually begins on the first day of the month Muharram, which will start on 31 August and continue for 29 days until 28 September.
Nevertheless, it’s within the teachings of Islam that Muslims show tolerance to people of other faiths and be the best example for them so that they get inspired and follow suit.
Author: Ola Diab
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