Jewish families welcome holidays with variety of traditions

A St. Louis pup poses next to a ‘Hanukkah bush.’ Many families in the area celebrate Hanukkah with a multitude of traditions. 

Megan Rubenstein, Sophomore, Parkway North

In today’s world, it is not uncommon for Jewish kids to grow up celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas. Many children have one Jewish and one Christian parent, which is a common reason why so many kids celebrate both holidays. Holiday traditions are unique, and there are many ways that people incorporate traditions from a mixture of cultures and beliefs into their holiday season.

“We have a Christmas tree and we make Christmas cookies, but that is about it,” MICDS junior Noah Siegel said. “[My family] eats Chinese food for Christmas dinner, which is a typical Jewish thing. We also celebrate Hanukkah, which most of our Jewish friends do.”

People celebrate each holiday to varying degrees. While some may only have Christmas dinner, others might celebrate with presents, a Christmas tree, stockings and more. It all depends on how the individual’s family celebrates each holiday.

“We have a tree and stockings. We typically have dinner on Christmas Eve with my dad’s family. When we wake up Christmas morning, there are presents under the tree,” said Parkway Central sophomore Mackenzie Canoy.

For many people, the holiday season means getting together and spending time with family.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

“I celebrate Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving with my dad’s family,” said Parkway West freshman Jessica Goedeke. “I have a dinner on Christmas Day for my extended family on my dad’s side and on Christmas Eve I celebrate with my dad’s family. I [also] celebrate Hanukkah with my mom’s family. We usually do it around Thanksgiving every other year.”

Some Jewish teens feel connected to both Judaism and Christianity. Growing up, they learned about both religions. Many families who have one Jewish parent and one Christian parent learn about both sets of beliefs.

“I feel connected to both religions because my family practices both religions to make it equal for my parents and both sides of my family,” Jessica said.

Teens who celebrate both holidays have different traditions than people who only celebrate Hanukkah. Yet despite celebrating two holidays, the way people celebrate Hanukkah does not differ all that much.

“I celebrate one more holiday than my Jewish friends who do not celebrate Christmas, but we still have similar Hanukkah traditions, including lighting the menorah, having a Hanukkah dinner and making latkes,” Jessica said.

“My holiday traditions are different from other kids because Christmas isn’t just another normal day. It’s kind of like how we celebrate Hanukkah just being with the family and exchanging gifts with one another,” Parkway North freshman Abbie Pines said.

With both holidays quickly approaching, it is important to remember to embrace our own traditions and respect others as well. No matter how one celebrates the holidays, or what holidays they celebrate, they are all a time for families to be together.