Over the next three days we will be asking people from three different backgrounds what Christmas means to them. Today Shahid Malik, the MP for Dewsbury and a Muslim gives his view of Christmas
IT'S that special time of year again - Christmas is upon us.
The season means many things to many people: time to get in the loft and dust off the decorations; a chance to spend time with family and friends; a legitimate excuse to "shop till you drop"; children writing their presents list for Santa.
Christmas carols at midnight mass; hours slumped in front of the television, glued to the Wizard of Oz, Morecambe and Wise, & Scrooge (again!!); turkey, mince pies, mulled wine and of course mistletoe, and much more.
In short, Christmas brings something for everyone.
Sadly however, the season of goodwill has in recent years also provided a platform for the "loony liberal brigade" to parade their ultra-politically correct views.
These Christmas killjoys argue that celebrating Christmas could be offensive to non-Christians and so we are required to be "sensitive" and avoid any mention of religion.
According to their logic, we should no longer switch on the Christmas lights, but the "winter lights".
Saying "Merry Christmas" might offend non-Christians, so we should stick to "Seasons Greetings" in our cards to be on the safe side.
Other stories abound of companies banning Christmas decorations, schools banning Christmas carols and Nativity plays, and even one local authority renaming Christmas "Winterval."
What do I think? Well in two words – Bah humbug!
Even as a non-Christian, I find this attempt to re-brand our British culture and traditions deeply offensive.
Recently, I was holding a coffee morning in Mirfield where one of my constituents told me about an all-day conference in the East Midlands during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Apparently, they were told that they could not have a lunch break because during Ramadan Muslims would be offended as they were fasting.
The mind boggles - nothing would offend Muslims more than non-Muslims having to go without lunch because of fear of offending them!
Surely the days of these politically correct dinosaurs are over.
Might I make a suggestion to these policy makers - if you actually consulted the very people you believe need protection from being offended you would save us all a lot of frustration and on occasion, anger.
Contrary to popular perception, Christmas is a holiday enjoyed by people of all religions, even those of no religious faith. It unites people of different faiths, different cultures, different backgrounds and different ages.
It is a time for kindness, compassion, charity and soul-searching, and a real celebration for all Britons.
In my time I've dressed up as Father Christmas at a Christmas Party for children in my constituency - I'm told I made a very jolly and amiable Santa!
This year I have hosted a number of community "mince pie and mulled wine" events at the Dewsbury Minister and at St Paulinus Hall.
I also organised my annual Christmas card competition that attracted over 300 brilliant entries from schoolchildren across Dewsbury, Mirfield and Heckmondwike.
And I take great pleasure in helping switch on Dewsbury's Christmas lights each year.
There are few better feelings than watching the faces of children light up with the Christmas lights.
Life can be mundane at times, and perhaps even slightly depressing as the winter nights draw in, and there is no better pick you up than the festive season.
Worries and stresses are put to one side to join in the holiday spirit and be merry.
To the PC brigade I would suggest that they get down off their high horses and join in with the Christmas spirit. They might even enjoy themselves!
I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and I hope you'll raise a glass with me to a "PC-free" Christmas future.