family fun

Interfaith Holiday Traditions

family funfamily fun-traditions

Santa never came to my house when I was a little girl. It’s not because I was naughty. (Well, I was naughty sometimes, but that’s not why Santa didn't come.) Santa didn't visit my house because my family didn't celebrate Christmas. We didn't celebrate it as a religious holiday, nor did we participate in any of the more secular activities—therefore we didn't have a tree in our living room, or Christmas lights strung on our house, or photos with Santa at the mall.

All these things sounded magical to me, but I never really felt like I was missing out. My parents and extended family embraced our rich heritage and taught me about the wonders of my own wintertime holiday—Hanukkah. We ate crispy potato pancakes and played Dreidel with chocolate coins (gelt). Plus we had eight whole nights of presents, while Christmas only lasted for one day.

hanukkah3

When I married someone who celebrated Christmas, I was thrilled to have the chance to do some of the things I didn't get to do as a kid. As soon as we had a house of our own, I insisted on getting a real Christmas tree. I begged my husband to hang lights on our house. We made a big Christmas breakfast for my in-laws. We also lit a menorah, exchanged Hanukkah gifts and learned (through trial and error) how to make delicious latkes.

Once we had children of our own, we really began to establish our family’s interfaith holiday traditions. Every year, we celebrate Hanukkah by lighting a menorah and saying the traditional blessings. My eight-year-old can say the blessings in Hebrew, and this year she began teaching her five-year-old sister to say them too. I visit both girls’ classes and share the story of Hanukkah with their classmates. I bring homemade latkes for their friends to try and send each child home with a dreidel of their own.

christmas8

We also buy a Christmas tree, which we decorate with mostly homemade ornaments. I’ve saved just about every ornament that the girls have ever made, and we have fun reminiscing each year as we unpack them. We leave cookies and milk for Santa, set carrots in the backyard for the reindeer, and eagerly await the arrival of Snowflake, our beloved Elf on the Shelf. We also bake gingerbread cookies in Christmas and Hanukkah shapes.

christmas9

Our Christmas tree sits on a Hanukkah tablecloth, and huge piles of gifts wrapped in Hanukkah paper appear underneath the tree, courtesy of their grandparents. My lucky kids get eight gifts apiece for Hanukkah, plus a whole bunch more on Christmas morning. We also “adopt” a child for whom we buy Christmas gifts and open our home to all of our friends and family for a big Christmas dinner, practicing the tradition of tzedakah, or charity.

holiday collage

We have a unique way of celebrating the holidays and combining our traditions, but we’re so proud to call them our own.

What are some of your favorite ways to celebrate the holiday season?

running3_thumbnail Sharon is a mommy, a runner, and a licensed therapist. Sometimes she wants to run away, but she sticks with running marathons instead. Come visit her at Mommy Runs It, where she blogs about  motherhood, marathon training, and balancing it all without losing her mind. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

The following two tabs change content below.

mommyrunsit

Latest posts by mommyrunsit (see all)

Comments

8 Responses to “Interfaith Holiday Traditions”

  1. Debbie Denny says:

    I just love how you have created your own traditions. This is awesome. I have friends who celebrate interfaith holidays and I enjoy visiting them and being a part of their traditions!

  2. I really love, an respect how you manage to celebrate both major holiday traditions with your family in your own unique way.

  3. It can be so hard to make traditions work in a family that celebrates two different holidays, I love how well you’ve made it work though!

  4. Osa says:

    Hi Sharon,

    I loved this post! My mom raised us as Muslim in a family of a jillion Christians…and oh not to mention in NYC in a Jewish neighborhood LOL. Let’s just say I am VERY well rounded. We never had a Christmas tree at our home, but there was always one at our Grandparents home so we always got gifts. In schools in NYC it’s pretty interesting because most of the Jewish holidays are observed…no matter which neighborhood you live in. So we learned all about Yom Kippur, Roshashana (probably spelled wrong) as well as Hanukka. With my own kids, I put up a tree and everything so they don’t feel left out of the “magic”, as well as teach them about our own culture/religion. Idk how it works…but it does :-)

    by the way..I found you on the Southern Girl Blog group on FB :-)

  5. Love this, You should link it up with us today. We have traditions going on the blog.

    But, now that, that is out of the way, I love how you wrote this. You never know what people celebrate and shouldn’t assume. I work with a girl and many kids were shocked that she didn’t celebrate Christmas.

  6. We’re a “Chrismakkah” family, too! I like to say that I’m an “equal-opportunity celebrator”.

  7. tara pittman says:

    I love that you can give your girls both experiences. This is a great teaching op for them. They look like they are enjoying both.

  8. […] post was originally published at MomItForward.com on […]

Leave a Reply


Web Statistics