Christmas fun just ‘secular’ for some interfaith families

How’s this for a new spin on the “December dilemma” that faces interfaith families at holiday time?

More Christian-Jewish interfaith families that are raising their children Jewish are choosing to celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday, according to an annual survey from InterfaithFamily.com.

christmas_tree_75Edmund Case, CEO of InterfaithFamily.com, says: “We are seeing an increasing normalization of interfaith couples raising Jewish children and participating in Christmas. But these families by very large measure see their Christmas celebrations as entirely secular in nature and not confusing to their children’s Jewish identity.”

Of interfaith families raising children Jewish who were surveyed, all plan to celebrate Hanukkah at home and 48% plan to celebrate Christmas at home. 79% plan to celebrate Christmas at the home of a relative.

81% of families said they believe that their Christmas celebrations do not affect their children’s Jewish identity.

A press release notes: “Some observers of intermarriage have cast a skeptical eye on interfaith families raising Jewish children participating in Christmas activities, arguing that interfaith families can’t impart a strong Jewish identity to their children and celebrate Christmas. The results of InterfaithFamily.com’s surveys suggest that they are doing so.”

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.