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Observing the Winter Holidays as a Jewish - Christian Interfaith Couple

Developing Winter Holiday Traditions in a Jewish - Christian Interfaith Marriage

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Photo: Digital Planet Design / iStockphoto
Photo: Digital Planet Design / iStockphoto
The "December Dilemma" in winter doesn't have to be a time of conflict in a Jewish - Christian interfaith marriage. Here are some suggestions for interfaith couples dealing with the issue of winter holiday celebrations.

For many Jews, although Hanukkah, a festival of lights, is a time to celebrate, sing, eat, and have fun, it is also a time to remember the importance of religious freedom and the distinctiveness of being Jewish. So for some Jews, it is sacrilegious to try to intermingle Hanukkah with Christmas just because the holidays take place around the same time.

  • Intermingling Traditions: Other interfaith couples find intermingling of their traditions quite acceptable. The only way the two of you can reach a decision on how to celebrate the holidays is to communicate honestly with one another about the issue. Remembering the struggle for religious freedom at Chanukah, and also the universal quest for peace at Christmas helps some Jewish/Christian couples enjoy both faith traditions during the December holidays.
  • The Christmas Tree Issue: Many Christians don't understand why their Jewish spouses think they are betraying their religion if they have Chanukah/Hanukkah symbols on a Christmas tree. Jewish spouses may be troubled when their Christian mate steadfastly refuses to give up the Christmas tree.
  • Winter Tree Concept: Make a blue and white "winter tree" with both Jewish and Christian symbols along with snowflakes and icicles for decorations.
  • Light and Darkness Rituals: Both Christians and Jews spend time reflecting about darkness and light during the month of December. Some interfaith couples create a ritual that honors both the lights on the Christmas tree and the Hanukkah candles.
  • Gift-Giving in Interfaith Marriages: Some families alternate gift-giving between Christmas and Hanukkah each year.
  • Spend Holiday Time in Different Ways: Spend time on the major holidays in different ways like going to the movies, going on a hike, serving at a soup kitchen, etc.
  • Importance of Other Holidays: Give as much attention to how you will celebrate Easter and other Christian holidays and Jewish holidays such as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkoth, and Simcha Torah.

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