It’s always a strange time of year for a Jew.
I have grown up celebrating Christmas with my family, but as I got older and became more committed to my Jewish faith, I started to really pull away from it. It can be frustrating when it seems like the entire (Western) world around you is celebrating one holiday, and you’re not, and I felt that by being stubborn and refusing to involve myself in Christmas endeavours meant I was a better Jew.
But really, it’s not harmful. The majority of people I know and love are not Christian, but still throw themselves into Christmas wholeheartedly. It’s a time of year for people to come together, for people to come home from away, for everyone to drink and eat and let their diets make way for chocolate and mulled wine. Christmas jumpers are worn, tinsel is everywhere, and some truly great movies return to improve television for everyone.
I found Christmas cards hard to receive; like those around me didn’t have the sensitivity to realise I don’t feel 100% aligned with the holiday. But in truth, they don’t mean to offend, and I now receive (and give!) “holidays” or Christmas cards with pleasure.
And we will always have both in our house. We will always buy each other Christmas presents and get together with family on Christmas Day. I plan to provide both holiday experiences for my children. And despite the Americanisation/commercialisation of Hanukkah, it is a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar, and giving it equal importance and hurrah is unnecessary. Presents are not required, just lights, latkes and donuts. Of course the meaning behind the holiday itself is an important reminder of the resilience and perseverance of my people, and will always have a place alongside Christmas, like our menorah is alongside the Christmas tree.
This year is the first year in a long time that I have thrown myself into Christmas. Tinsel, Christmas jumper (see above!), the works. There is no “reason” in my season, but I look forward to a day with family and all the British traditions, and a few well-earned weeks off.
How are you planning to celebrate? Do you struggle with two holidays?…xxx