My Christian kids love Hanukkah: Do your kids like others’ religious holidays?

My Christian children are fascinated with the Jewish holiday Hanukkah, which begins this year at sundown on Wednesday.

My 9-year-old has loved Hanukkah since she was itty bitty. I think it stemmed from the “Elmo’s World Happy Holidays” DVD that explained the traditions of Christmas, Hanuakkah and Kwanza.

She would sing the dreidel song ad nauseam. She was obsessed with the menorahs. She would cobble together her own with candle sticks around the house. She could even tell you the special name for the shamash (attendant) candle.

Two years in Vacation Bible School they studied Jewish traditions made dreidels, menorahs and ate Passover foods. (I know different holiday but still Jewish.)

Last year my mom gave Rose the American Girl Rebecca Rubin Hanukkah set with a menorah with tiny little fake candles. Rose loves it. (This year she’s getting Rebecca from Mimi.)

My 3-year-old came in last night wishing us a very hearty Happy Hanuakkah. It took me a while to figure out that Rose showed her the Elmo DVD upstairs.

I have no problems with my kids learning about any other religion’s holidays. I guess I wouldn’t want them celebrating a religious holiday that was contrary to our religious beliefs. I don’t feel that Hanukkah is contrary to what our religion teaches.

Growing up I had a Jayne friend whose family seemed to have a Christmas tree each year. She always picked out excellent presents. We also have a Jewish friend who hosts his company’s annual Christmas party at his house.

Do your kids like another religion’s holiday in particular? Do they talk about or try to celebrate it at home? Do you let your kids celebrate Christmas since so many people are celebrating even if it’s not your religion’s holiday?

- By Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, Momania

88 comments Add your comment

V for Vendetta

November 30th, 2010
12:33 pm

Kate,

I’ve read much of the Bible, and I make it a point to read nearly every article, essay, or text suggested to me by religious folks. To do otherwise would be a bit hypocritical, wouldn’t you say? I don’t doubt that history is important to you. What I do doubt is that one needs religion or faith to enhance any part of one’s life. My life is great whether or not I believe in Jesus, god, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. They all affect me about the same, which is to say not at all.

V for Vendetta

November 30th, 2010
12:39 pm

MJG,

The morals and obedience of which you speak can be derived from logic and reason. One does not need any sort of faith or belief in a higher power to be moral or just. Introducing faith as an arbiter of morals is flawed because it inevitably leads to a “My faith is right; yours isn’t” argument. Many of the “lessons” found in religious texts can be traced back through human history to times much earlier than those of Judeo-Christian religion.

I would say morals and justice have declined as a result of socialism–i.e., our lack of independence. When you don’t hold people responsible for their actions, this is the inevitable result.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

November 30th, 2010
12:56 pm

@MJG….”While some parents can and will do a wonderful job of instilling morals without any religious upbringing…this is not always the case”….I’m sure the point of the rest of your post was that there are plenty of parents who have accepted a saviour into their hearts that have done an absolutely terrible job instilling morals to their children as well…even though you didn’t state it as succinctly.

I would submit to you that religious beliefs have very little to do with how well parents do in living moral lives and teaching that to their children. If the only reason one follows and teaches a “moral” path is out of fear of what might happen to them in the afterlife, I believe their path is flawed to begin with.

The point is that one lives a moral life and teaches their children to lead moral lives because they believe in those morals, ethics, and values, regardless of their religious affiliations, or lack thereof. I would also submit that those who fail and succeed at that goal are of equal numbers….regardless of religious affilition, or lack thereof.

motherjanegoose

November 30th, 2010
1:07 pm

@ tiger…yes there are plenty of professed Christians who have children that are difficult. I thought I mentioned this with the church children who are toots.

I disagree with this:

“I would submit to you that religious beliefs have very little to do with how well parents do in living moral lives and teaching that to their children.’

Perhaps I am the only one here on this blog who disagrees. I respect your right to have a different opinion. My opinions are based on my experiences and I have certainly not experienced everything.

Photius

November 30th, 2010
1:11 pm

By focusing more on Church activities and the Birth of Christ, we are instructed to turn off the world and focus more on the meaning of Christmas. Limit your television use, computer, movies, football, shopping and focus yourself on the celebration of Christ. For our family, this is the only way we can tolerate the horrible consumerism side to American Christmas. We attend more Church services, we read as a family the stories in the Gospels, we read more from the Saints, we pray more as a family, as we as adults fast for 40 days prior to December 25th. No meat or dairy is consumed unless specified for a certain occasion. The principle is to sacrifice, to go without, to turn off the outside world, to reflect upon ourselves and our relation with Christ, to repent and to attempt to grow closer to Christ. For us, it reveals what is truly important for ourselves as a family – not falling prey into being consumers, finding joy in gadgets and materialism, putting on weight over eating…. In our house the celebration of Christmas is wonderful.

Kate

November 30th, 2010
1:11 pm

@V and all other atheists and agnostics out there, I am in no way condemning your lack of faith. As an agnostic kid growing up in a small southern town, I was the recipient of a lot of nasty comments growing up from both bible thumping kids and adults, so I would never do the same to anyone else. However, there does seem to be an underlying current among many atheists that in order to be a Christian, you must be inherently stupid. I guess I can’t blame them, since I used to believe the same thing myself, but it was through my study of history that proved that wasn’t true. Some of the greatest thinkers in human history have been devout Christians. Of course you can be an amazing person without the benefit of any religion, but it is also entirely possible to be an intelligent, independent thinker and a Christian at the same time.

V for Vendetta

November 30th, 2010
1:15 pm

MJG,

I would disagree with your disagree. I would also contend that many parents spread their narrow-minded and bigoted viewpoints via their faiths to their children–who are indoctrinated into a belief system without ever having a choice. I find that to be reprehensible and immoral. I would be willing to bet that a statistical survey would find no difference between religious and non-religious parents in terms of their children’s behavior, morals, or obedience.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

November 30th, 2010
1:17 pm

@MJG…I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that your “church children who are toots” comment was addressing the issue, albeit I believe it read as putting the onus on the children themselves to keep the teachings of the church with them, thus assigning no real responsibility on the religious parents to make sure the kids take to heart those teachings.

That, to me, was in stark contrast to the statement about parents without religious beliefs having a tougher time instilling their children with moral character. It read almost as if the church acts as a surrogate or extension of the parent, and without it, we parents who are without the moral guidance of the church have just put ourselves in a position of making parenting that much more difficult.

V for Vendetta

November 30th, 2010
1:18 pm

Kate,

And I apologize if I implied that people of faith are inherently stupid. My own sister is a devout Christian. We have incredibly passionate and informed debates all the time. (All in good fun, of course.) You are absolutely correct in your assertion that one can be an independent thinker and still believe in a higher power; however, there is an unfortunate number of believers who sacrifice logic and reason on the altar of faith and use their faith as a weapon of condemnation.

Come on Son

November 30th, 2010
1:29 pm

Well at the end of the day (death) we will all find out who is right and who was wrong.

I always have found it interesting that non-Christian faiths and traditions are always acceptable in the public and public schools but Christianity is treated as an outcast. School freely educate our children on Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and other religious traditions but you may get your certification yanked if you mention Jesus Christ. We no longer have Christmas trees but “holiday trees” and Halloween has become the biggest celebrated “holiday” in schools, ironic is it not?

Schools bend over backwards to make accomodations for Jewish and Muslim students to celebrate their holy days at school or give lee way if they do not want to attend school. Yet try getting that same level of accomodation for Good Friday and your child gets treated like it is any other absense.

I am a Christian and I have no shame in that, but I do not call other faiths “mythology” but explain that is not what we believe and other people believe other traditions. In every group of believers there are a few extremist who do not represent the masses.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

November 30th, 2010
1:34 pm

@Photius…you sound very Opus Dei-ish….and NOT in the psycho Da Vinci Code kind of way.

Come on Son

November 30th, 2010
1:43 pm

I would also contend that many parents spread their narrow-minded and bigoted viewpoints via their faiths to their children–who are indoctrinated into a belief system without ever having a choice.

Really, so people without faith can not be narrow minded and bigoted? Not saying you bigoted but your views seems to have influenced your children’s choice not to join a community of faith. The majority of people are the result of the environment they grew up in and are either going to accept it or rebel against it.
Just because a child has two gay parents does not mean that child will be homosexual, but that child will likely have liberal views on the gay lifestyle. This same debate can be turned to would you let your child have a sleepover at a friends house with gay parents? Hey if that is what they want to do at their home, have at it, but it does not make me a bigot because I disagree and do not want my child exposed to that first hand. They can be friends, play, etc. but I do not want them seeing at bed time two grown adults of the same sex going into the same bedroom.
It is different when it is a child versus a teenager who has some form of life experiences; that is our jobs as parents.

????

November 30th, 2010
1:44 pm

I bet some of the people up here would actually vote for Sarah Palin to be President. Before you start your Obama bashing, take a look at this:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/29/AR2010112905453.html?hpid=topnews
Hint, the bailouts actually worked.

JD

November 30th, 2010
2:04 pm

All I can say is I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and we should all love one another as family regardless of our religious beliefs. I find it sad when I see, or read in this case where sides are taken and insults start flying regarding religion. Can’t we all just be friends and celebrate our beliefs within our own realm of life? None of you will get brownie points for your behavior in the afterlife believe it or not. We should not judge each other….we should love each other.

First time poster

November 30th, 2010
2:05 pm

@ come on son, my experience in the public schools in GA has been the exact opposite in regards to Christianity. Nary a word said about other faiths, but things like finding a bible stories book on the shelf in my daughter’s 2nd grade classroom, the Christian Atheletes group in middle school (I’ve actually seen them praying on school grounds before school starts), I could go on but won’t. Are you perhaps from a different area of the country? Could be the difference, but here in the South you can’t toss a rock without hitting a Christian, in school or otherwise. I also find it interesting, at least in me experience, that most people assume you’re some sort of Christian. As I said, to each their own.

Come on Son

November 30th, 2010
2:15 pm

First time poster,

Bible story books and the actual Bible are two different things. Without seeing the books I can not give a accurate comment but stories like David and Goliath and the Good Samaritan have become part of our society’s story lexicon.

I would guess you are speaking of FCA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Prayer is allowed in schools for everyone, is Muslim students want to adhere to praying 5 times a day, the school must accomodate them. Public schools can not force a prayer time on its students.

Now I agree that in the South people at least assume you attend a church not necessarily that you are a Christian or even a member of a church. However that has changed a lot with more people moving from the mid west and north.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

November 30th, 2010
2:19 pm

@Come on Son….would you yell “EARMUFFS” and demand that your child cover their ears if the child with gay parents just said to your child “my parents sleep in the same bed at night”?

I guess I’m just confused with what trauma you are sparing you child from by ensuring that he/she doesn’t witness with his/her own eyes a homosexual couple retiring to their bedroom together and closing the door behind them.

Would you prohibit your child from spending the night at the house of another child’s whose parents were unmarried yet living together? Or, depending on the strictness of your religious beliefs, a couple who were on their second (or more) marriages who had not formally annulled their marriages in accordance to their faith or whose faith did not recognize divorce.

Or how about sending your child to a home where you had knowledge that the woman of the house had an abortion at some point in her life?

I guess I just find it interesting that you picked that particular example to make the case that you are not a bigot or hold bigoted views.

BlondeHoney

November 30th, 2010
2:22 pm

@First Time Poster, I agree with you; my views are closer to V’s however my next door neighbors (who are my dearest friends) are devout christians who believe all should believe as they do. The wife teaches 7th grade math in a public middle school, and the husband proudly told me this morning he is going to “witness” to the 7th & 8th graders Friday morning. Now we all know he is NOT going to “witness” judaism, hindu, or any other religion other than christianity, and we also know there is not a snowball’s chance that any other religion would get the same opportunity. I asked him, “not during school hours, right?” because i do not want MY tax dollars supporting christianity in public schools unless the schools are willing to open it up to ALL religions. He was like “aww c;mon” and then admitted it would be before school hours. I’m not keen on using public facilities at all for this sort of thing; isn’t that what your CHURCH is for?

First time poster

November 30th, 2010
2:42 pm

@ son, personally I don’t see a difference between the stories and the actual bible itself, afterall it’s teaching the same thing, right? My piont was I haven’t seen any discrimintation agains Christianity in public schools, at least where I live. In my view, having an organization like FCA is seen as “ok” but we all know what happened when students wanted to start a gay and lesbian support group at some small school in North GA – a big no go, and that wasn’t even promoting a religion. Go figure.

Come on Son

November 30th, 2010
2:43 pm

@TigerOcho

Just because other people “do wrong” does not mean we have to expose our children to it. My right as a parent to MY CHILD, is determine based on my years of raising them, when I believe is the appropriate time to expose them to the ways of this world. So if I do not want my under 10 year old child to see to people of the same sex “retiring to the same room” that is my right, but I am still going to explain homosexuality to them because they see it everytime we go downtown for an event or a game.

BTW, if we have unmarried guest visiting they will sleep in seperate rooms otherwise they can PAY for a hotel, we don’t charge guests. Our jobs as parents is to raise children to have some sort of moral standard that they can reference. When they become adults they can make their own educated choices and if they want to do opposite of what they have been taught, they would not be able to say, “I did not know”.
If you want to decrease the chances of your child drinking and smoking, don’t drink and smoke around them. You sound like a person who serves alcohol for the parents at a CHILD’s birthday party. A family gathering is one thing, a child’s party is another.

No one is perfect and heavens knows I am not, but is it really necessary to have our children repeat our mistakes when we can teach them from our own life experiences?

We have become a society of let me live how I want to live but believe it or not our actions or inactions has an effect on others.

FCM

November 30th, 2010
2:50 pm

Youngest found a book on the subject last year (picture book) in the class library. Became fascinated with the holiday. We put the menorah up this weekend in addition to decking the halls, the house, the deck in our religious faith (Christian) tradition and secular fun (Santa).

????

November 30th, 2010
3:03 pm

@FCM, what, no Kwanza?

I wonder

November 30th, 2010
3:06 pm

I have seen several people of the Christian faith including the writer of this blog say they they integrate Hanukkah in their holiday. This is interesting since so many people paint Christians as “narrow minded”. However, I wonder how many Jewish or Muslim families will celebrate elements of Christmas during their major faith holidays?

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

November 30th, 2010
3:14 pm

@Come on Son…i actually agree with most of what you say. For the exact reasons you mention, I would NEVER allow my son to become and altar boy…and like you, I’ll explain to him why.

MomOf2Girls

November 30th, 2010
3:32 pm

@I wonder – it has nothing to do with being narrow minded. I don’t observe any other religions holidays because they’re not part of my religion. Why should I observe something that isn’t part of my belief?

JATL

November 30th, 2010
4:02 pm

@Come on Son -I forgot -the two BIGGEST sins are drinking a beer at a kid’s birthday party (as my almost completely non-drinking mother once said-if you’re EVER going to drink or need a drink -a small child’s birthday party is the place to do it!) and two people loving one another and showing a positive loving relationship -if they just happen to be the same gender. I’m sure it’s fine for little Johnny to go to the friend’s house whose parents have divorced and remarried 6 times between them or whose dad is screwing is secretary on the side -because it’s all heterosexual. I’m unsure of why it’s okay to take your kid to a ballgame where he sees gay couples but it’s not okay for him to visit the home of a gay couple? Odd.

And here’s a tip from a former Southern Baptist -the BIGGEST booze-hounds I’ve ever known came from homes just like yours. Parents were SO anti-alcohol or else they “hid” the drinking and having a drink or two was never part of a normal life experience, so the kids went nuts when they got away and got their hands on it. Half of my youth group wound up in rehab.

@I wonder -I actually know a number of non-religious Jews who enjoy putting up a tree or celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in the secular sense.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

November 30th, 2010
4:40 pm

@Come on Son….BTW..you’re right…I am the “type” of parent who serves alcohol FOR THE PARENTS at a party for my child. You sound like the “type” of person who would judge me for that.

But I guess that’s where we fundamentally differ, whereas you seem like the “type” to determine people “do wrong” based on how they differ from you “doing right”, I look at people actions to see if they act with a kind heart, fairness, and the willingness to accept me and my family without judgment for all my faults…..like providing alcohol at my kids birthday party or having committed the unpardonable act of living with wife of 17 fyears or 2 years before marriage. Like you said, to each their own. Just in case you’re wondering though, even though I know you’d never accept an invitation to my kids birthday party, I’d welcome you with open arms…you seem like a fascinating guy to have a chat with…and there will be a beer available for you if you want it.

V for Vendetta

November 30th, 2010
9:30 pm

Come on son,

I don’t indoctrinate my children into believing anything. I don’t slander religions or faiths in front of them, and, if one of them chose to adopt such a belief system later in life, it would be her choice. I would disagree, but they are free to make their own choices and believe what they want to believe. If there is any benefit to believing in a higher power, Jesus Christ, or the abominable snow man, then surely it will win out over my lack of belief, right? I mean, if Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, et. al. are a superior world view–according to their adherents–the inevitably my children will chose to believe in one (all?) of them rather than in nothing. Something is better than nothing, right? I wonder which one they’ll choose. I mean, they all claim to be right. I suppose I should include Wicca, Paganism, Greek mythology, ancient Egyptian gods, and the Norse gods. Maybe the beliefs of the Native Americans and African bushmen?

I wonder what they’ll choose. Whatever it is, it must be better than nothing, right?

Right?

Free

December 1st, 2010
3:13 am

Спасибо понравилось !

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10:11 am

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bunch of yentas

December 1st, 2010
1:13 pm

Come on Son

December 2nd, 2010
12:11 pm

JATL,
There is a time and a place for everything. I do not have a problem having kids around alchol at restaurants, family gatherings, cookouts, etc, etc. I personally think a child’s birthday party is about the child and not the adults.
Just because a parent does not drink, smoke, shack, etc in front of the child does not mean their child will not explore on their own. We can not control our kids choices in their friends or their personal decisions later in life, but we can help them make educated choices and understand the consequences.
People drink, shack, smoke, cuss, etc, more power to them, but keep in mind parents are the most influential teachers of their children. They are watching whether you realize or not.

I have friends that have kids that do not allow them to watch pg or pg-13 movies, for me I watch them and decide on an individual basis. My point is the younger the child the more influence parents have over their views.

Come on Son

December 2nd, 2010
12:16 pm

One last note on the gay issue, which found it’s way into this topic.
I agree that gays should have the same legal rights as everyone else. Repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, yes, gay marriage, no. Civil unions yes. I believe people should not have to “live in the closet”, become suicidal, live in fear for being who they are. However on the flip side, does anyone know what % of the population is gay? Estimates range from as low as 3% to as high as 10%, which means a small group certainly commands a lot of our legislative attention; which I have an issue with. Proper educational funding, taxes, war, health care, etc need more debate than who can marry who.

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Light

December 3rd, 2010
2:30 pm

Let God will be done thru this blog lightoftheearth.blogspot.com/

Lily

December 3rd, 2010
3:24 pm

I am really happy to hear about so many Christian families teaching their children about CHanukah and the story behind it. We have lots of them :). As a Jewish child growing up in the 50’s, we were not taught anything at all about Judaism in public school, and we were literally forced to sing Christmas carols etc., which was a little uncomfortable when it came to singing “Christ the Lord”> I remember just humming that part so God wouldn’t be upset with me….We were brought up in a very very diverse neighborhood, especially for the 1950’s. When some mean kids would throw apples at us during the Jewish High Holiday days, shouting “you killed Christ!” I used to run inside & ask my mother, ‘who is Christ and why do they think WE killed him?” I believe that the greatest religion of all is the human one…the golden rule….living a good, kind and compassionate life. The rest is all icons, toys, gifts, symbols, etcetc. I love learning about all the religions of the world for that reason…the variety, the passion, the customs, the food, the holidays. Ultimately, we have one thing in common it seems : a curiousity about eternal life and if there is any such thing, an understanding of a ‘higher power’ called God or whomever/whatever we call the higher power, and a very human need to be loved unconditionally. We just need to spread the love around, regardless of different beliefs and customs. So, on that note: Happy EVERYTHING to EVERYONE!