Halal holidays: Malaysia lifts ban, allowing Christmas greetings on Muslim cakes

Photo courtesy of Thai PBS World

Malaysia‘s halal-certified bakeries are breaking free from a three-year ban on Christmas greetings.

The Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) declared yesterday, December 18, that businesses can now sprinkle some Yuletide joy on their cakes.

The change came after a viral uproar over a leaked internal memo from Berry’s, a popular bakery chain, instructing staff to steer clear of Merry Christmas messages. The memo cited Jakim’s halal regulations, prompting a debate on social media.

The memo urged staff to opt for a Season’s greetings topper.

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“To be informed for this coming Christmas Festival Celebration we are strictly not allowed to write the words of Merry Christmas or X’Mas on any cakes even [if] requested by the customer.”

Outraged Facebook users questioned the logic behind the ban.

“Will having the word Merry Christmas on the cake make all the cakes in the shop non-halal? So please respect all cultures!”

Jakim swiftly responded, clarifying that businesses with Malaysia halal certification face no obstacles in writing festive greetings on cakes. They emphasised that previous statements from 2020 are no longer applicable and announced a comprehensive review of the halal certification procedure, reported Thai PBS World.

A Berry’s representative assured that the memo was for internal use only. Following Jakim’s new guidelines, customers can now indulge in spreading Christmas greetings on their cakes. The representative, opting for anonymity, expressed hope that the issue could finally be put to rest.

As Malaysia, with its two-thirds Muslim majority, opens the door to festive inclusivity, the Southeast Asian nation remains a pivotal player in the global halal market, eyeing a potential five trillion dollar industry by 2030.

In related news, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and his Malaysian counterpart Anwar Ibrahim orchestrated a historic agreement, with plans to improve border trade through the new Sadao checkpoint in Songkhla province. Read more about this story HERE.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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