It’s mid-July, and the Christmas decorations are going up in Bradford.
Most towns and cities put up their decorations in late October, with the switch-on usually taking place after Remembrance Sunday in November. But Bradford usually puts its lights up much earlier.
Okay, so I’m being a little dishonest in calling them ‘Christmas’ lights. Bradford saves money by re-using many of its lights for three different religious festivals – Eid, Diwali and Christmas – with minor changes made between each one. Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim celebration at the end of Ramadan, is this weekend, so the lights are being erected in time.
They will then be changed over for the Hindu and Sikh festival Diwali (spelled Deepawali locally) which takes place in November, and then changed again for Christmas. Like with most other towns, there is a big Christmas lights switch-on event that takes place in November, after all the ‘Happy Deepawali’ signs have been changed to ‘Happy Christmas’.
Whilst Christians are the largest religious group in the Bradford district, comprising around 46% of the population, Islam is the second-most popular religion; around a quarter of the population identify as Muslims. Around 20% have no religion, and there are smaller numbers of Hindus and Sikhs. Although us godless people don’t have a festival of our own, the council are able to cover the festivals of Bradford’s four biggest religions by re-using resources.
So, for those celebrating it at the end of this week, Eid Mubarak.
Of the remaining two largest global religions, Bradford has a very small Jewish population with just one synagogue, and a small Buddhist community.