If he had been at home in Bangladesh on Christmas, Salehin Mahbub would have been hanging out in the homes of some of his Christian friends enjoying their food and company before heading out to go shopping on Christmas Day.
Around the globe, Christmas is celebrated in many different ways, and Mahbub, a chemistry major at Pittsburg State University, said even though Christianity is practiced by only a small fraction of the Bangladesh population the holiday remains a day of feasting, celebrating with family and friends and shopping.
"Iím a Muslim, but I have a few friends who are Christian and Iíve seen how they celebrate," Mahbub said, adding that the nationís population is approximately 0.6 percent Christian and 90.4 percent Muslim, with a little more than 8 percent Hindu and the remaining fraction practicing other faiths.
Mahbub said holidays are huge in Bangladesh, with the nation acknowledging two Muslim Eid holidays - Eid Al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan and Eid Al-Adha a little later in the fall, as well as Christmas, New Yearís Day, Language Day on Feb. 21 honoring those killed in the 1952 war against Pakistan, the approximately 13 Hindi Pooja holidays each year and an independence day on Dec. 16 celebrating the 1972 winning of the war against Pakistan.
Regardless of the religion of origin, many of the ways of celebrating holidays have common elements.
"Back in Bangladesh we have the family bonding - the family is pretty tight," Mahbub said. "We pray a lot and we shop a lot."
"In Bangladesh the Christians pray in the church, then go back home with their families and get gifts," he said.
He said half a day generally is spent with family and then lunch is eaten, following which the younger people get out and about.
And, like in America, the holidays are the season for making purchases - but, in Bangladesh those purchases often are made on the holidays themselves and prices are marked up significantly, rather than deeply discounted the way they are in the United States.
"We buy everything. Everything," he said. "Thatís the festival."
Mahbub is in America by way of Italy, where his dad is the managing director of a government bank in Rome, and he said the first time he encountered a Christmas sale there it was a surprise.
"In Italy I went to buy a phone just before Christmas and it was 50 or 45 percent off," he said, adding the retail element of the holidays is important in Bangladesh and people will make their purchases on the holidays regardless of the marked-up prices.
For those of different faiths, the day might not have as much significance, but the cultural practices accompanying holidays are still fun.
"Usually I donít celebrate it," Mahbub said of Christmas, adding that if he were in Bangladesh he would have been out with friends and wearing new clothing. "We mix around with everybody."