Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Happy Chris-Hannukah

As we count down to Christmas in the NappyValley household this year, Hannukah is a big topic of conversation. I think it's partly because it falls so close to Christmas this year (it started this week) that the boys are very aware of it, and are starting to ask lots of questions about the Jewish and Christian traditions.

Indeed they seem to know more about the lighting of eight candles and spinning the dreidel than they know about the nativity at the moment, and have kept me well informed about the numbers of Jewish and Christian children in their classes.

Meanwhile, the mixed faiths of people living on Long Island makes for some interesting conversations. "I'm Jewish, but we always celebrated Christmas, so I'm a little screwed up about the whole thing," one friend confessed to me. Then there's the Jewish man who lives in our neighbourhood but has the most over-the-top Christmas decorations I've ever seen, and another friend who's Catholic but sends her kids to a Jewish preschool, so ended up lighting a menorah (she sang 'Happy Birthday' while doing it, for want of knowing the appropriate song).

Perhaps this is best illustrated by a conversation Littleboy 1 and I had at bathtime last night.

"Mummy, some people in my class are Jewish AND Christian," he said very earnestly.

"Well," I said, "Maybe one of their parents is Jewish and the other one is Christian."

"Yes," he said. "I think that's it. You know, I think it means the Mum must be Jewish and the Dad must be Christian."

"You're absolutely right," I replied, impressed that he knew that the Jewish religion is passed down through the mother.

"Yes," he continued. "Because Christian is a boy's name. And Jewish? That sounds like a lady."

Merry Christmas, everyone. And Happy Hannukah.


Conuly said...

"You're absolutely right," I replied, impressed that he knew that the Jewish religion is passed down through the mother.

I believe there are some Jewish groups now (Reform?) who have it passed down through either parent so long as you're raised Jewish.

Suburban Princess said...

I love it! I have known a number of Jewish people who put up a tree and exchange Christmas presents :O)

Expat mum said...

I always wonder what the point of being Jewish is if you're going to "celebrate" Xmas? (Or vice versa) Like I never understood Jews for Jesus either.
My kids have huge Hannukah envy as their friends get great gifts for 8 days straight.

Conuly said...

Well, Christmas celebrations are largely what happens when a bunch of annoyed Christians started celebrating Yule or Saturnalia like their neighbors, years ago.

Being Jewish (or not) is about more than the secular observation of ONE holiday, I think. Putting up a tree and giving presents isn't any more religious, really, than having a turkey on Thanksgiving or staying up late for fireworks on the 4th. Sure, it's tied to a religious holiday (Christmas), but lots and lots of people celebrate Christmas who aren't Christians.

Now, if you were Jewish and celebrated Christmas by going to church and getting baptized, that'd be a little weird. But presents and a tree? Whatever. (Heck, for what it's worth, I made potato pancakes and ate doughnuts last night. I'm not Jewish, but I'm not going to let the opportunity to gorge on fried foods pass me by!)

Tanya (Bump2Basics) said...

Love it! Happy holidays to you all around.

I am one of those half Christian/half Jewish non-religious people (though technically not really as it's my dad that is Jewish not my mom). I wasn't raised particularly relgiously and don't feel lacking for it, though I must admit my parents did spoil us with celebrations of Christmas and Hannukah. Most of all though, both were family times for us where we heard a rare bit of religious history and also learned the joy of giving, not just receiving.

On that digression, you should check out the John Lewis Christmas commercial run constantly over here in the UK. It's a heart wrencher and done to a Smith's soundtrack...good advertising.

Unknown said...

Presents for 8 days straight, you say. Please, do not let my children find that out. Happy Christmas x

MsCaroline said...

I love the logic of little ones! Makes perfect sense to me! I can imagine how excited the boys are about now... Christmas, Hanukkah...enjoy it all!

MsCaroline said...

Just wanted to let you know I've left you a Liebster award over at my blog. Happy Chris-Hanukkah!

Nota Bene said...

true wisdom there...

Iota said...

Well, he's onto something. You could have a couple called Christian and Ju (short for Julia, Judith, etc), couldn't you? Other religions a little tricker to cover.

geekymummy said...

I'm always rather envious of jewish friends who are culturally Jewish, but not at all religious. It's confusing for our kids since we are atheists but we celebrate Christmas. Maybe we should just do Hanukkah too for good measure. Or cancel it all and have festivus a la Seinfeld, instead!

Circles in the Sand said...

Lovely story! Hope you all had a great time! Happy boxing day! (not celebrated in America, if I remember rightly?) and wishing you all a wonderful 2012 xxx

Michelloui | The American Resident said...

This is a great post, really funny! And I love the reasonings in kids heads.

Everyone here keeps asking why I always write 'happy holidays' in my cards instead of Merry Christmas... lots of PC training growing up in the States! :)

Happy New Year! xx