Post # 1
Just a rant about being Jewish during the “Christmas Season”. Annoying work neighbor is already playing Christmas music at her desk, and it’s put me in a grinch mood.
Funny Jew at Christmas Story:
I owned a house and rented a room to a girl who was Christian (we weren’t really friends, more of a landlord/tenant relationship). One day I came home and there were Christmas lights up on the trees in my front yard. Bright red and green lights everywhere!
I calmly tried to explain to her that she is more than welcome to decorate her room with Christmas lights, but being Jewish homeowner, I did not want them decorating my front yard. I am surrounded by Christmas from the second I leave the house until the second I come home, and I don’t want my house to be decorated as well.
She completely didn’t get it, and neither did any of my Christian co-workers or friends when I tried to explain it to them. They kept saying they’re “Holiday Lights”, not Christmas lights I just kept saying “No, they’re Christmas lights. Jews don’t put up colored lights on the front of their houses (unless that’s their preference for decorating for Hanukkah).
Do any other Jewish bees have stories about people not seeming to understand that Jews don’t celebrate Christmas?
Post # 3
@CanAmBride: I’m probably kind of weird but I LOVE not celebrating Christmas. I am a little bit of a curmudgeon to begin with, which probably helps. Not having to deal with a tree or decorations or mess, or buying useless things. Not having immense pressure to spend the holidays with one set of parents or the other or feeling guilty for living on the other side of the country. My family usually does get together for a nice dinner on Christmas, but it’s more celebrating a day off and time to cook a nice meal than feeling like we need to be there.
Because we live on the other side of the country, and visit around Christmastime because that’s when there’s days off, we’re rarely around for Hanukkah. We literally do give each other generic “holiday presents.” I love it! But that may just be me and my dislike of holiday pomp.
I am with you on the lights – I actually really like looking at other people’s lights, and my family sometimes puts a couple strings of the white lights up, but I would be really uncomfortable having green and red lights up at my house. I feel like it’s saying something I don’t want to say, if that makes sense.
Post # 4
I get a lot of “wait a second, you don’t have a tree? ANY tree? Not even a small one?” It’s like people literally can’t comprehend a world without Christmas.
Post # 5
I sort of love being the lone person who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. It was so defining when I was a kid, and still is, it’s like part of who I am to *not* celebrate.
Post # 6
My husband is like this. However I grew up celebrating Christmas with a tree, decorations, presents and everything. We are now having the debate of what to do for the Holidays. This year we will not be decorating at all because I still go to my Moms house to help her decorate…but this will be another discussion once we have kids. We are not raising our children Christian (I dont consider myself Christian) but Christmastime brings back my fondest memories and I always loved the rituals that go with it!
Are there any fun traditions that you guys have that I could incorporate into our somewhat non-fath Interfaith household!?
Post # 7
Darling Husband and I are both Jewish, but we had a tree two years ago…we called it a “New year’s tree”. It was really fun to decorate and didn’t scream “CHRISTMAS!!” so that’s definitely something that I want to do with my kids.
Post # 8
@PitBulLover I have friends who were raised jewish even though one parent wasn’t jewish, and on Christmas Eve, they made it a tradition to volunteer at a soup kitchen. They got to celebrate the Christmas spirit but didn’t bring it into the home. It’s a win-win.
Both of my parents and my Darling Husband are jewish, so we’ve always done the the “Chinese Food and a Movie” tradition on Christmas. It’s pretty awesome!
Post # 9
I am Jewish and my Fi is catholic we have a Hanukkah bush which is basically a christmas tree we decorate with blue and silver mickey heads and Jewish stars.
Post # 10
@CanAmBride: I love the Chinese food/movie tradition! Though I don’t live near my family anymore, I used to really enjoy spending the holidays doing that with my family.
Now, we spend Christmas with my fiance’s family, since we’re closer to them than we used to be. But, I do enjoy those Jewish holiday traditions 🙂 (And when we were living closer to my family, I think my fiance did too).
But to address your original question…not so much now that I live in NYC where people seem to know what Jewish people are…but growing up, I often felt the frustration of people not understanding that Jewish people don’t celebrate Christmas, and the fact that it is not a hallmark holiday, but in fact a holiday rooted in Christian religious ideas. (And this was growing up in Bay Area California, super liberal land). In high school, and I think even college, I definitely felt like I had to explain to people that I don’t celebrate Christmas, we don’t have lights, a tree, etc.
As far as a story goes, I think the one that sticks out in my mind the most is actually from when I was in 1st grade–everyone else was coloring Santas, and because I was Jewish (and I guess told the teacher I don’t celebrate Christmas), she gave me a reindeer to color in–I think it was the most neutral thing there was. And I think I remember feeling a bit weird and out of place then.
Though, a positive story to share–when I was a senior in high school, I was in a class that was basically a class to discuss all kinds of relevant issues that affect teenagers–drugs, sex, family, etc. And a friend of mine and I had a Hanukkah party, and shared with the people in the class the story, the meaning, etc. So that was neat. 🙂
Post # 11
@judithsr I guess it’s probably more shocking to me because I grew up in a city with a very diverse population. Christians, Jews, Muslims, African Americans, Hindus…etc. We learned about and celebrated every culture equally.
It wasn’t until I went to college 1 1/2 hours away and then after that went into the working world with people from all over my area that I realized that most people have no idea that Christmas isn’t an American holiday like 4th of July but a religious holiday.
Still shocks me!
Post # 12
Agree! Fiance and I are both Jewish, as are all of our parents, so we do chinese and a movie too. It wasn’t til I went to college in the midwest that I met people who had never heard of jews or not celebrating christmas – that was quite a shock 🙂
Post # 13
My coworkers cannot understand why/how I don’t celebrate Christmas. It actually really irks me when I am berated with questions as to why not. I have been given the response “but it’s an American holiday” more than a few times. This aggravates me to no end!!! It is NOT an American holiday, it is a Christian one. Ugh, and now I’m annoyed, ha.
Post # 14
@CanAmBride: Wow – she decorated your house??? That’s just rude, regardless of the holiday connotation!
Amusingly, despite being fairly Christian, my father constantly referred to our tree as a “Hanukkah Bush.”
Post # 15
FH is divorced and his ex’s father is Jewish and mother is Catholic, however his ex did have a bat mitzvah and converted at a young age to Judaism. He told me that when they were married, he came home one day and she had attached stockings to the mantle! She had celebrated Christmas in her house growing up and wanted to continue the tradition. He was slightly horrified haha…
My dad’s wife is Catholic and we do spend Christmas with her and are expected to give and receive Christmas presents while sitting around the tree. His house has Christmas decorations all over it. To be honest I don’t think it would bother me if only she would try to understand and/or participate in our holidays the way my Dad and brother and I do with hers.
I am not bothered at all by the general public celebrating Christmas but it’s the more personal confrontations with it that get to me!
Post # 16
- Wedding: June 2010 - New York Botanical Garden
Another Chinese food and a movie here!
I don’t mind the festiveness of the season in general but I do mind when people call Christmas an “American” holiday, because I agree, it is most definitely not.