Nepal is cancelling Christmas, and it’s caused quite an uproar. Supposedly, the government is only trying to reduce the number of public holidays, and Christmas Day was taken off the list for that reason. Christians believe there are other, more spiteful reasons for cancelling Christmas. Protestants and Catholics are enraged.

Though Christians are a religious minority in Nepal, they are powerful. Christians refuse to accept the elimination of Christmas Day from the official list of holidays. Protestants and Catholics are leading the country in a series of protests.

On behalf of Hindus and Buddhists, about 80 holidays and national celebrations are on the calendar. Christmas Day was the only holiday in celebration of Christian beliefs.

The 83 public holidays in Nepal include religious and non-religious celebrations – from Islamic New Year to Buddah Jayanti, and the days of Ramadan. One of the more unusual religious holidays is Govardhan Puja, a day to worship cow dung.

The actual date of most Buddhist and Hindu holidays change each year, with each based on the previous holiday’s date. The Nepalese also use phases of the moon to determine religious holiday dates. Their Georgian calendar serves to confuse dates even more.

Christmas was one of the few holidays that was celebrated on the same day each year – December 25.

About 83 percent of Nepalese are Hindu – the highest percentage than any country in the world. With historic links to Nepal, Buddhists comprise nearly nine percent of the population. Christianity is practiced by 1.5 percent.

When Nepal became a secular state nearly a decade ago, Christmas Day was declared a public holiday. To honor a growing Protestant population, December 25th became a non-working day. It’s a holiday no more.

Protestants and Catholics in Nepal are exceptionally proud to celebrate Christmas. They show their Christian pride with great displays and walls of Christmas lights, inside and outside of their homes. It’s a tradition. Christmas lights will always burn bright with Nepalese Christians.