Not everything needs to be about you, and not everything is for you. Go forth and celebrate your own damn holidays! There are lots of great things about Christmas that have nothing to do with capitalism.
The more religious the better, IMO. I wish I had enough Jewish families where I live now to run something similar. MIB, ran out of nest, but very much so, on Yom Kippur. We had an ugly Christmas sweater day at my old job a few years ago at work and our at the time only Jewish employee showed up in an incredible Hannukah sweater and it was epic.
But then I went and ordered a T-Rex menorah because of the above passive-aggressive feelings, which has gotten a bunch of positive comments. My son-in-law is Jewish, and I want to press him to celebrate Hanukah just so I can buy him that, Well, also because I am into freedom fighting and resource-stretching as concepts, but… his house, his religion, his choices.
Get invited to some parties! That would be lovely, Working Hypothesis. It did lead to an interesting conversation about department trees, though. You can leverage this whenever anybody asks you to do anything Christmasy: While we are the Jews of the do everything stripe I have so much sympathy for LW.
It is so awkward. And no matter where your boundary is people will try to cross it my workplace still insists on praying at our company party even though the non-Christians beg them not to every year. I say it with a concerned tone, and really loudly, trying to make it clear that they are the one making this strange. After a couple of seasons people mostly just leave me alone about it. I have had some luck being trying to head things off in advance — I talked to my boss about how nice it is when we are more inclusive in our language and this has helped a lot though the praying persists.
I bring latkes to our holiday potluck and made Star of David sugar cookies for the cookie table. These have always brought on good conversations though I know in some workplaces that might not be true. It gets better every year. And I am sorry that this is a problem still. I had to go to a mall the other day and got wished a merry Christmas by everyone I spoke to, which has not happened before, and they were seriously in your face about it. I have a personal rule that aside from wrapping presents, there are NO Christmas or Christmas-themed decorations allowed in my house.
Agreed on the people being particularly aggressive with the Merry Christmas-ing this year. I work in retail, and I feel like a lot more of my customers have been wishing me a Merry Christmas than usual. Why are you just assuming I do? Christmas really does get very overwhelming and domineering this time of year. The smokescreen of generic well wishing ought to be hanging in tatters at this point.
But I am probably the Jew that would rather hear a happy christmas then hear someone butcher a happy chanukkah or give themselves an ally point about it. Sometimes when people are rude, I also advocate lying. I am generally the loud-mouthed shit-stirrer in my circles, and also in an area where while still a minority, there are a lot of Jews, but again mileage varies. But I generally make a habit of being sure all my Christian friends know about the fact that they get de facto paid leave for their holidays and I never do.
Docs get more vacation than most people but I usually have to take four or five days of it for Jewish holidays, which are not really vacation; they may be spiritually restful or not but they are physically stressful, especially if you are hosting.
As annoying as it is, you will likely have to repeat this for several years before people really get it — if they do. Since I work Christmas, I try to take off the first week of January every year for decompression, self-care, and sometimes travel. Whatever you can do for self-care. If you can find a Jewish community of any kind, it helps me to have that as counter-programming. I worked in a union shop for a few years, and it was closed on all the Jewish holidays.
Plus all the federal holidays. Like, 20 holidays per year. And then add on the mandated PTO. Then I went to retail, and had 2 holidays.
I grew up Christian, and when I was in college, I snagged an apartment in a building whose residents were nearly all Jewish.
It was a long few minutes before it dawned on me that they were talking about Other Holidays. A lesson learned, was that. Our September is your December. I am also super grumpy about this. I tried to trade those Christmas days for Rosh Hashanah and got quoted company policy about working on paid holidays. Ended up using two sick days, and will essentially be forced into observing Christmas.
Company policy needs to yield to federal law about reasonable accommodation for sincerely held religious belief. There is a large body of statute and case law about this stuff, and not letting you off for something mandated by your religion when they can do so without serious hardship to the business is not their choice to make.
And thus I do not always get to visit my family for the holiday that actually matters to me. If it makes you feel any better, think tallit instead of Israel when they toss them your way? And also fair-weather allies. Oh this so much. Do you need a sticker for your random purchase?? Because my work follows the stock market, we literally get Good Friday off, but I have to take vacation to go to services on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.
I am bitter about that every single year. Timing can be the worst! I teach, and my last two Septembers have been at new schools. I am also DisPleased that this upcoming year Passover though, to be fair, also Easter fall no where near the public school April Holiday which makes my busiest spring weekend just in the middle of a regular work week! Though so much worse for an accountant! I imagine an earlier Pesach this year is particularly rough? Ohhhh LW, I feel you.
I am incredibly pro aggressive Hanukkah decorations, or ridiculous Hanukkah sweaters. Good luck, and take care of yourself. I am pretty low-key about my Judaism but if someone said this to me it would get real ugly real fast. Yeah I started cringe-laughing at that line. Especially because, like, which thing? I once had some Christians apologize to me for the Crusades.
I guess they meant well, but…awkward. And kind of weird. Hearing Christians and atheists descended from Christians acknowledge that their ancestors massacred the families of my ancestors would be validating. Three humans, four opinions. I always learn from this site. This post was an eye opener for me. Although my intentions were good at the time, I worry that I may have offended non-Christmas celebrators in the past.
I am learning a lot reading the comments with suggestions of things we can do or not do to be better at this — so thanks everyone! LW, if you are my new co-worker, I apologize, and thank-you notes are not required. A prayer in a secular business organization would be unthinkable here. Since I grew up sharing the faith of the majority I do not know how it feels to feel Other when it comes to religion but I constantly feel like that because of other reasons and if it is anything like that feeling I a am so sorry you have to suffer from it because it is terrible and b want very much to learn how to be more inclusive.
I consider it wrong to ask members of othered minorities to educate us so I have searched for more information on holidays of different religions. There is just one thing: I believe it is the duty of the majority to educate themselves, it is just, the internet is full of information and assessing which pieces of information are relevant to which groups gets confusing.
Being very sensitive and afraid of hurting the feelings of others I get anxious and wonder whether I can trust the information on sites, for example this one on the Jewish holidays: Now I am just wondering whom to ask for more information.
I would love to send cards on Rosh Hashana — and latkes sound so very delicious. Unitarian communities also often have a pretty varied mix of religious backgrounds and a population which finds the subject interesting. Hebcal is a great site! One thing that is consistent in Judaism is that we all celebrate holidays on the same days. Jewish holidays are tied to the Hebrew calendar, which has been functioning for a few millennia by now, so Jews have been able to stay consistent in keeping track of when our holidays fall no matter where on the globe we may have scattered.
Jewish Virtual Library is also a useful site. For example, latkes are only a traditional food for Jews whose ancestors lived in Eastern Europe. Please stay away from Aish. Personally, I love comparing notes about culture and religion! Because being Jewish is both a religion and an ethnic identity, culture and religion are sort of conflated in my mind. Most of the time, questions about Judaism help me feel seen and respected.
EchoFlower, thank you so much for your very illuminating answer! Oh, how much I would love to compare notes with you about your views of Judaism — and your memories of Jewish holidays and traditions. I have bookmarked the sites you recommended but it will probably take some time to get through even a fraction of Jewish Virtual Library.
These resources of information have made me very happy and I hope others will find them, too. I happened to find a Jewish cookbook with background information on the recipes and I intend to share it and the post on Chanukkah food you shared with my mother-in-law who shares my interest in religions. I hope your Chanukah has been very enjoyable and may you also enjoy Tu BiShvat! I am only starting to find out more about Jewish holidays but as a person who has lately read about ethnobotany as part of my studies what I have found out about Tu BiShvat so far is fascinating.
Now I am only wishing our holidays were as amazing — and I would love to hear so much which holidays are the favourites of the people here. In the unlikely event that I ever found a company, I promise I will create a system which allows people to celebrate their holidays equally. This discussion has woken me up more to see how much Christianity affects the culture in which I live.
So thank you, everybody. Adding to the point about Aish and Chabad: Chabad does have some value, in that its purpose is to persuade non-practicing Jews to take up practice of the ritual commandments according to Orthodox standards. I love babbling about Judaism with interested people, whether Jewish or gentile, and at any level of previous knowledge.
So if you want someone to ask questions of, feel free to hit me up. What I want is go to back in time and thank all the non-Christian children I went to school with for never once telling me the truth about Santa. I do, however, remember getting really annoyed with the Christmas-celebrating kids who would mock other Christmas-celebrating kids for still believing in Santa Claus.
I actually think this is a really good idea. We do New Years cards for almost precisely that reason. It is not controversial that the calendar year ends on December Many calendars do not line up with the civil calendar.
But January 1 is the first day of , pretty unambiguously. The French do not do Christmas cards. Yes, I wanted to include all the celebrants this time of year, but I also wanted to give my procrastinating self permission to not finish my mailing until mid-January. Nor was Christmas really. So, we got vaguely around the New Year presents instead. Big presents often appeared in January. Is your family Former Soviet Union? Admittedly, I am one of those Jews who love Secret Santa, tree trimming and all of that — but my mother is not like that which perhaps explains me….
In addition to there being no script to shut things down forever, it reliably will come up again every year. Would you go to a religious wedding or christening? Is this just about Christian holidays or would you go to a Diwali or Ramadan break the fast? With all that being said, I sympathize with you the most for the time when I actually lived in Jerusalem. As a Jew in Jerusalem with no extended family — and a nonobservant Jew at that….. And it was a thing that not only did people notice, but also apparently caused them lots of distress of someone being solo.
There were always things I could focus on — like taking the time to call my parents back in the states, or finding time to connect with friends. I grew up Christian and converted to paganism in my early 20s. My family are all still Christian, including extended family. So, LW, I commiserate. The erasure really sucks and it makes me feel angry and invisible and disrespected. And feel free to get more and more brusque every time you need to refuse.
You were raised Catholic. Let us tell you the real truth about Jesus! Come December, I get utterly fed up with the ubiquitous Christmas music in every retail space. It wears on me and feels like an attack after a while. War on Christmas, my ass. I left a Sweet Adelines chapter over this.
Which is traditionaly sung at Easter, but nevermind. And every time we practiced the Hallelujah Chorus, the rest of the singers erupted in aggressively triumphant cheers that felt downright pointed.
We kept Jesus despite everything the Grinch tried last year! The group had made their point, which was that I and my non-Christian ideas of inclusivity were not welcome. This year, like many years before, my husband and I are holding an all-nighter open house for Solstice, with a Yule log to start the fire that will burn all night, and our door unlocked to guests from sunset Wednesday to sunrise Thursday.
This is a Pagan celebration of a holiday that looks similar in many ways, but it is not Christmas. Please respect the spirit of the gathering. But I keep remembering the year I let my affection for a dear friend, and my wish to make her feel valued and welcome, sway me into acceding to her request to put on a Christmas playlist—with the result that I resented it, and temporarily her, all night long.
Other than the Pagan bookstore downtown, there is literally nowhere else where my religious traditions are followed. So please understand why I am adamant that in my home, at my Solstice party, we will not be playing Christmas music. I just sort of want to head that sort of thing off before it starts. I think my best bet is to just be overtly Pagan about everything in a non-directed way, between how I talk about the event to how I decorate and the playlist I put on in the kitchen.
Just wow on that story. Geisel originally wanted the Grinch to succeed in stealing Christmas, and the publisher made him change it hint: Plus, in the book as it stands now, the Grinch actually steals the crass commercialism and being obnoxious and disruptive to your neighbors of Christmas, so… kind of my hero?
I have an easier out that you: I was brought up Christian-adjacent, but not Christian, so any celebration of the holiday feels like cultural appropriation from me. Ugh, that chorus experience sounds absolutely awful. Shortly after that, I moved across the country and had a couple of very bad experiences with local choruses and quit singing for a while. I hope you can also find some friendly folks to sing non-Christian things with.
Singing in groups is so wonderful and really should not be reserved for members of the dominant culture. By which I mean by at least Dec 5th. I do the aggressively pagan thing too. This thread is so affirming to me, too. Feeling all the pagan love and outrage here—thanks to all of you.
Jewish here, but married to a pagan and with a lot of pagan friends: Kudos for standing your ground after that one year. Can I ask what you suggested to yours? Also, sorry you had this experience. Midwestern Pagan here too. I feel you on the Land of Assumed Christianity thing.
Especially when the traditions that I want to draw on got eaten by Christmas a long time ago. Yep, I fully acknowledge that and the way it made my childhood easier. I appreciate your response, but you did exactly the thing the Captain asked for people not to do. It really is a different experience to grow up not Christian, especially in a heavily Christian area. I grew up Hindu in Tennessee in the s. Having grown up in a part of the midwest where there was actually a reasonably decent Jewish population, I can confirm that this is still a problem in areas that otherwise generally understand that Judaism is not Christianity.
There is a group that genuinely see Christmas as secularized enough to warrant inviting non-Christian people to cookie-making, ornament-and-wreath-crafting, song-singing, etc. There is also a group that is less well-intentioned about their holiday. I actually think a part of Christmas traditions is very secular, but I come from a country where many of the Christmas traditions date to pre-Christian times, and Christianity just hijacked a bunch of stuff from our traditional winter solstice celebrations.
Being non-Christian myself, I happily celebrate the parts that I know have roots running deeper than the relatively new religion that just happens to coincide with mid-winter. I mean, yes, there are definitely elements of HOW we celebrate Christmas that were not originally religious in nature—pulling trees indoors and decorating them, for example. And there are lots of people who celebrate Christmas without intending to do so in a religious way.
If it was Hanukkah during school vacation week there was also a family latke party while we were visiting. It makes me feel like too much of an outsider. For ten years before I started working for myself, I was a professional baker, and Christmas was Intense Rush season, so that was a perfect excuse.
When I was working in a corporate environment before that, it really sucked. My son is cool with ugly sweater parties among his peers. It works for him. I have blonde hair and green eyes. One does not have anything to do with the other. I receive all the Christmas well wishes and sometimes I do not have the energy to get in a deep discussion about my religion and my beliefs.
So, I say have a nice day when I am confronted with the gauntlet of Christmas cheer. Just not Eastern-European Jewish. Even though Mom grew up in NYC. Which — honestly, what were they expecting? Some sort of distinguishing mark? My sympathies to you, LW. I go through this annual annoyance too, and HATE it.
If I work somewhere big enough, I simply discreetly abandon the item in the break room. Otherwise, in the trash on the way home. Ok, anyway, to your post. I surreptitiously text one friend in particular about all the little annoying Christmas things that annoy me while simultaneously checking out mentally while they are happening.
Family is having Christmas lunch and we have to go? Special traditional Christmas-only food? Done, end of that thread. I will keep thinking but these are the three main things that come to mind. I think point 3 can go either way. If they do, then all is good. Can we do it in front of the kids whom those elves have taught to expect surveillance in their bedroom as normal? As a Christmas-doer who is nonetheless very creeped out by the elf on the shelf, I fully endorse this.
Um, about elves… I live in Northern Europe and perhaps there is still enough local Paganism in me that the way elves are presented related to Christmas feels very weird. Still, many people I know kind of a bit believes in them. I can understand why drowning horrible elves is tempting but… It might not be a very popular thought among the people from this region. Even though I was raised up as a Christian I was also taught to respect tomte.
Thinking about drowning a tomte just feels… wrong. I wonder if it feels like drowning a fairy? I cannot really speak for the local Pagans following the old traditions of this area but I am tempted to point out that they exist and that they are a minority.
This is the first time I have heard of Elf on The Shelf and indeed it does sound… so very wrong. I fully endorse drowning it, or recycling it or reusing it as Halloween decoration. If you are interested in the Scandinavian version here is a link: That comment, in addition to what I noted above, made me sad that I no longer have access to the computer with Bowling for Elves on it. And actually, it is a required part of the curriculum that I teach as well! Only one coping strategy, unfortunately very specific to me, but still satisfying: That has to feel awful.
I loved this post, littleelittlee. This is one of the things that makes me very angry. I want religion out of public life. I think religion should be like sex: You have to get the sex-phobic government officials out of the way if you want that to happen.
Very much so, and I think many people would have a hard time with separating off parts of who they are to such an extreme degree that their partner was a secret.
All religions are equally oppressive to me, even marginalized ones! I had a similar experience when I moved to a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. I moved a few years ago from cities that had large Jewish populations to a city where, outside of the university, I am often the first Jew a person is meeting and, LW, I have no advice but lots of empathy.
We just moved from a city which, while the Jewish population is relatively small, is at least progressive enough to recognize we exist, to a small town where my daughter is one of two Jewish kids in the middle and high schools. I know someone Jewish! Just… clueless and a little clumsy. I grew up Jewish and in Israel and Hanukkah holds a very dear and special place in my heart.
I found what works best when I have the time and the person is not too boundary pushing is to explain why I love Hanukkah so much. I love telling the story of Hanukkah and try and make it as epic as possible, I love explaining what each tradition means, I love telling my favorite memories of Hanukkah. For me it was when I was in kindergarten and the teachers put on a play of the story of Hanukkah. People tend to respond really well to that and are less invested in pushing Christmas on me.
I still remember the time when I was living in rural Minnesota and a coworker mentioned Hanukkah. They open presents for a whole week, just one or two at a time, instead of all at once! Makes a lot of sense. And all the other coworkers nodded seriously and agreed. To me, the situation LW describes is the perfect time to employ the technique of just repeating a pleasant, general refusal again and again.
Yeah, some Jewish traditions like the one I grew up in incorporate Christmas as a secular Thanksgiving-but-with-a-white-male-Toothfairy hybrid holiday for children. But just like some Christians have different religious and cultural traditions than other Christians, some Jews have different Decembertime traditions than other Jews do.
It seems that many Christians can totally understand that Christianity is a varied and sometimes even fractured religion but other religions have to be monoliths. I like to take a page from our local Chabad rabbi. Depending on the context, I find myself willing to do certain things — e. I find myself doing a work secret santa this year — but what really gets to me is the insistence by people that I adjust my attitudes.
I think we even did once or twice, grudgingly, but that never made the pressure stop and if anything made it worse. And the more you opt out, the more people will get used to you opting out; honestly, I think the first time is the hardest though this tends to reset with each new group of people you have to do this with, unfortunately….
My husband and I are Jewish. He told me about one year when he and his family returned from a trip out of town a week or two before Christmas. They found that the neighborhood association had lined the streets with luminarias, including in front of their house. They considered luminarias to be Christmas decorations, so they moved them in front of the other houses.
The next day, my MIL got a call from the head of the neighborhood association. Why did you move the luminarias that were in front of your house? They are just festive decorations for the season. Then how about next year, we put out luminarias for the 4th of July?
My grandparents got pressured to take part in a streetwide paper-bag luminaria thing. They noped out, as did their Jewish next door neighbors. Too bad, so sad, other neighbors, not our thing. Muppet Christmas Carol is fine because Muppets light the lamp, not the rat! Other than that, my Christmas movie is Die Hard, dammit. Absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, everything to do with us. Oh boy yes, my fellow Jewish friends and I have grumpy conversations about this every year. I find this time of year so alienating.
I hate every commercial and TV special!! We were the only Jewish family in my tiny rural town, so I grew up awkwardly singing Christmas carols with my Girl Scout troupe and feeling super weird about it.
Which can get really, really frustrating. When people act like it is, that feels very alienating to me. They were very confused for a minute until they thought it through and realized what the joy was supposed to be joyousness for. In their head, the joy of the Annunciation had been totally secularized. In mine… not so much. I do still resent that I had to use vacation time to celebrate my holidays, and nobody ever gave me a Happy Wesak card.
He was looked at as the department weirdo, which was sad, because he was a good person and worker. Fellow Jewish Person here. I do want to eat your cookies; I am only human, after all. Because no one knew what to do? When we light the candles I sit at the table and watch them over the pages of a good book until they burn out.
I find it incredibly frustrating to hear, from all sides, almost all the time, that Christmas is secular so really I should just shut up and take it. So instead, they substitute all the modern junk which sings ABOUT celebrating Christmas, instead of being about the birth of Jesus long before any such holiday existed. I just think it. It just reminds people of their childhood and happy family memories.
Cannot declutter once they take up residence? Imagine a four cube cubicle clump. Mine was south east, north west was empty. South west and north east were occupied by lovers of Christmas cheer. But I could hear them. I lasted about half an hour before dragging them into my cube. They turned off the music. As a Jewish person who Does Not Celebrate Christmas, I have had every single one of these conversations including with a non-Jewish ex-partner.
I think the thing that some folks find tough to understand is that something that has so much strong emotion and memory for them is literally meaningless to me — they just cannot comprehend that their Christmas experience and feelings are not universal.
This has the added benefit of reminding people that Jewish traditions diverge from Christian traditions more than just at Christmastime. I will say that I probably have an easier time with this than someone like the LW who just wants to be left out of all of it.
Just commiseration here — as a fellow Jew, I hate how people think that Hanukkah is such a big deal. People are just trying to be nice about it.
But like, my holiday spirit is in September and March usually. Share it with me then. I agree with the Captain that people in your life are doing the same thing pressuring you into celebrating Christmas for different reasons some are confused, some are thoughtless, some are antisemitic, etc.
For the people who are both genuinely trying to make you feel included and open to listening to your feelings, it might help if you frame your preferences as a way of including you.
For me, though, celebrating my own holidays and not celebrating Christmas is what makes me happy, so letting me avoid Christmas gracefully is what you can do to make me feel valued and respected. Or maybe sharing a little of the story of Hannukah would help.
I am one of the people who would and does invite everyone to a holiday party and do a Secret Santa and all that stuff, because I want to make everyone feel included. How is that fair? Just as a data point, we celebrated Christmas in my household growing up. I hate Christmas for the same reasons a Christian might hate it, because of associations with bad family stuff. One thing I found useful when I was on a work social committee was organizing parties and fun events based on something other than a Christianized feast I quashed so many Halloween, Christmas, Valentines, and Easter celebrations in the making.
I am Jewish but my family is split half and half and for a long part of my childhood my Christian grandparents lived with us. So I grew up with a lot of Christmas things, and I love a lot of Christmassy stuff…with my family.
And now that my parents have moved very far away from me and the older generation of my family is dying off, Christmas has lost a lot of its sparkle. The more I feel like an outsider around Christmas, the more Hanukkah becomes important to me, and the more I get irritated by the pressure to do Christmas things. I have a new job at a career college, and they made a big deal of putting decorations up for the holidays.
Only, all the decorations are Christmas specific. For an academic environment that puts a lot of emphasis on professionalism, to me decorating in this manner is not professional at all. And someone apparently did clue office management in to the fact that several of the people who work here are Jewish, and students could be too….
I wish I could take a photo of what they attempted. Someone found one Hanukkah garland type thing and hung it up behind the reception with a Happy Hannukah sign printed in yellow. I was irritated by it and I mentioned it my coworker and she acted like I should be pleased they were doing anything at all. There were some hints that I should have helped them decorate. Excuse me, I need to get back to work. I go home and light my Hanukkah candles and I have passed up invitations this week to do so.
All I can do is keep speaking up and being polite, but reminding them. Some people get the difference my favorites are the ones who actually bring me Hanukkah cards or gifts on Hanukkah. Growing up Christmas was about music, family and food. Jedi Hugs if you want them. When I was in college my fraternity tried to have a small study break low-key social get together with light snacks full of pasta, pastries, etc. It was such a head-desky moment, because despite trying they still fucked it up.
And it would have been so easy to not fuck up if they had just. Asked someone who observes Pesach. I converted to Christianity as an adult, after being raised Muslim in the midwest. Oh my god my heart is raging for your Jewish fraternity brothers right now. What kind of jerks deprive Jews of their post-Pesach mac and cheese??? People who have never actually had a holiday in which they fasted or limited themselves. Advent is a part of the liturgical calendar, like Lent. Advent calendars have been commercialized to hell and back, but they still damned well count down to Christmas!
Also, the way I grew up they were a thing for kids, and usually involved opening little doors with a picture behind them rather than treats or goodies. My hangups, they are many and complex.
It will smooth so much. Lifelong Midwesterner chiming in—Oh goodness, yes. For the rest, get a light-up dreidel or menorah you can put on your desk.
As an ex-Muslim I can identify with your struggle greatly, LW. I have had an endless number of circular conversations re: This is especially irritating when people take your non-Christianity as a sign they need to convert you. I do not want to come to your church. Yes, I have heard of Jesus. I was going to say the same thing. I have noticed that being a little aggressively non-Christian in my daily life does tend to head people off.
One of my co-workers told me that the bible should be the only rules people should follow. Just wanted to drop in and say Happy last day-night of Hanukkah to the LW and all other Jewish commenters! I basically talk about religion all day, interact with people of all different faiths, have professors of diverse religious and cultural backgrounds… And yet, Christianity is still basically the default in some ways, whether people realize it or talk about it. I recall a conversation around finals last year.
Christian Professors were happily chatting about when their families were going to put up a Christmas tree… and Muslim professor basically had to sit and nod and ask polite questions.
On the flip side, around Eid and any other non-Christian holiday, I have yet to hear similar conversations. Not to mention the fact that university calendars are scheduled around Christmas… Sigh.
For bonus points — Alison, the woman who runs the site, is actually jewish. Flying across the country for it! I do Diwali and Solstice and I have always been very happy skipping Christmas or, The Stupid Christian Captialist Holiday, as my friend calls it and just resting and eating Chinese food while all the Xtians freaked out.
It is so weird, this day and the hubub around it. It works every year. Are they made from real Girl Scouts?
Since you mention that you want to develop good relationships with your coworkers, just not over Christmas, what about a script that says: I think this strategy will deflect their attention away from the Christmas stuff while still showing that you want to get to know them and build a relationship. Around a giant Christmas tree. Practicing Jew from the Midwest here. The struggle is real. In small or large ways, the people in my town wanted me to know that my religion and ethnicity were invalid.
I also wanna just take a sec to validate that people pushing Christmas on their Jewish friends and acquaintance is legitimately gross and you have every right to hate it and resent it and not want to have to deal with it. We were also pretty secular so at the time I had almost no idea who Jesus was meant to have been. Who the hell is he? Jesus is considered a boddhisattva, so we know about him. I was in kindergarten the first time Christians told me that me and my whole family were going to hell!
And were all of the holidays translated into English? And yeah, pretty much. Making Jewish friends in grad school did a lot to help me come to terms with the religious abuse I suffered as a child in a cult, by the way. Talking about our mutual experiences of celebrating the high holy days, albeit in different contexts, really helped me reframe my experiences of the ritual year and feel more comfortable about my participation in it as a child and teenager, and feel a part of a community of rational people.
I had never really felt that before and it meant a lot to me. In the five or so years before I left home at 17, the cult was undergoing a period of upheaval that ended in a giant schism a year or two after I left, and so there was a period of time when our holy days were more closely identified with their original names and there was an effort on the part of the leadership as a whole to pull us into closer alignment with some non-cult, mainstream faith. They first tried to pull us toward Judaism, which was a better fit observance-wise, but a lot of the local ministry revolted, so then there was an effort to identify more with mainstream evangelical Christianity.
That former period is most of the reason I have what little understanding I do of how the observances of my childhood and proper Jewish observances aligned and differed.
And they taught the Hanukkah story, and taught us how to play dreidl using chocolate money for betting, and everything. While this did have the unfortunate effect of giving us non-Jews the impression that Hanukkah was Jewish Christmas and I still blunder there from time to time , it had the excellent effect of normalizing Judaism and elevating it to an equal status with Christianity in our school.
Especially the elementary grades. And I am so sorry and can only offer my sincere sympathies and my renewed commitment not to be silent in the face of it. I have said this before. It was spontaneous then but is now my canned response should I hear it again. But when it was coming from multiple bullies who were shouting and sneering at me, my instinct was to make myself small and not make eye contact or respond.
I spent most Decembers until recently being very, very cranky. One thing that has helped me has been to focus on celebrating my holidays and tell other people about them. That and finding a way to be unapologetically not-caring about Christmas, because it is okay to feel how you feel and be who you are and anyone who gives you a grinch look needs to take their egg nog elsewhere.
Not wanting to be involved in Christmas is somehow considered wanting no one to have Christmas. Oh yes…the war on Christmas. I am not religious. I made my communion because we lived with grandmother at the time and she insisted on it as part of us living with her. My husband has fond memories of church…mostly the songs…and two years ago he got the idea to try to get our kids into religion classes.
This happy holidays stuff needs to end! My daughter is pagan, my son is unsure, my husband is a lapsed catholic and I am agnostic. Speaking as someone who was primarily insulated from aggressive and omnipresent Christmasing by a great many Hanukkah parties, the best thing you can do for your daughter is to actively seek out Buddhist things to do, and Buddhist or any non-Christian company, as a counterweight.
Having something to actively participate in and make happen is often more sustainable than being focused on ducking and dodging and avoiding, and is a great way to get kids engaged.
That sounds like a good idea, but, jeez, how? This year our temple is even closed on the Sunday before Christmas, which has me really bummed out. I am posting pictures of my menorah every night. Do you have big plans for Christmas? I hope you have a great holiday. I stopped putting in any explanation at all about the religious background of Christmas, or about being part of a minority religion, because all of that ended up evoking the Fragility of the Privileged, and I just needed to stop the conversation.
I started paying attention to my Christmas-celebrating friends and coworkers and realized how many of them are super tense about juggling family obligations and travel and spending more on presents than I would expect. It appeared in December, a mega-hit it was next to impossible to find tickets for, and it was of considerable interest to a lot of Jews.
We waited the first weekend out and then we all descended on the movie theaters on Dec. It was an incredibly useful piece of timing, and we laughed about it for weeks as we watched the rest of the population trying to scalp tickets even weeks later. Personally, I am fond of the Jewish tradition of spending Dec. And then make the point that the solution to Big Goyish Holiday absenteeism is to hire more Jews. But this is not a solution that would suit everyone, I know.
Throw a latke party! As others have said, Hanukkah is a pretty minor holiday, and playing it up can feel just as depressing as all of the Christmas stuff. I really wish we could find a way to get Purim to catch on with non-Jews. Convince people to try hamantaschen. I think most people will do anything if it involves hamantaschen.
My ex-boyfriend is Jewish and from a pretty religious family. Of course they celebrated Hanukkah, however they celebrated Christmas to a degree as well. I found it odd, but who am I to judge? His family invited me to various Jewish holidays and events, even though I made it clear I was an atheist.
I was actually very touched they were trying to include me and welcome me. But I saw it as more of a pleasant family gesture to invite me in the first place. My family do and we are all generally lapsed Christians or atheists, in fact I can count the number of people I know who actually identify as Christian on one hand. Because the religious aspect may not matter at all, to that person. But the religious aspects of Christmas matter to many Jews, and people should be sensitive to that.
Jewish people have kept their traditions alive through hundreds of years of persecution. Yeah that chocolate and those candles are actually deep protest against the dominant cultural paradigm.
And the person you are replying to is, like me, an atheist who lacks visible symbols to use as equivalent armor. It sounds to me like she is describing the experience of the very type of erasure you are talking about sitting in a religious setting, feeling out of place and invisible. All religious traditions are silly in the absence of belief or cultural forces. I have no belief in God, nor religious traditions. I actually was a Christian when I was a child but I ceased to believe.
I have never said anything disrespectful to anyone about their religion, I would not stand in their way, nor argue them to think like me. If my boyfriend and I had continued, I would have given a lot of thought to whether our kids should be raised Jewish or not, because I can see the community benefits and historical richness. And like I say, I saw the kindness in the invitations, and I appreciate the good I see in the way religion brings people together. Why does your religion have to have priority over my beliefs?
I can of course write or say a more nuanced response. Yes, you are digging a hole. You literally said, on a thread predominated by Jews, that you find our traditions silly, and then turned around and claimed that you never SAID anything disrespectful, you just THOUGHT it and except that you just said it to all of us right now.
Also, who the heck said you have to attend Jewish celebrations? Why are you turning us into strawmen? Dude, read the moderation note. It is directed at you! Out loud, or at least in print.
But Christmas is still Christian. The barn door is open and the horses are gone. Yes, for some people, having the trappings of the holiday without the holiday means getting the best parts without the religion. I specifically asked atheists to hang back from this one.
Maybe start a thread at the forums or find an atheism discussion board? Or…you could just not treat Christmas as the default for anyone? European and White North American culture is so heavily affected by Christianity, it is almost impossible to separate the two.
And this is not a Bad Horrible Thing, but as people raised in the Christian culture sphere, we need to be extra mindful of people who are not from the same sphere. I feel like I as a secular European Christian have often very differing views with many Americans on what that word entails. As a cultural Christian who celebrates Christian as a cultural rather than religious festival, along with the majority of my country, this thread is a real eye-opener as to the situation in USA.
As a secular Jew, I celebrate Hanukkah and Passover without the religious aspect. And yes, I know the 25th was the birthday of Mithras as the Sol Invictus. When a Christian or former Christian announces she thinks Jewish traditions are silly, this Jewish atheist hears more than years of contempt and abuse.
Sally, nobody here asked you to believe what Jews believe. But you were explicitly asked by the Captain to keep your opinions out of this thread, and this kind of thing is precisely why, I suspect. I also had the privilege of singing some stunningly beautiful Christian liturgical music, and even some lovely traditional Christmas carols.
Most choral-performance-gig Christmas music is not that. Ironically, now that Christmas cheer is no longer as mandatory, I have more patience for it. My strategy is to make the conversation as uninteresting as possible—silent shrugs, one-word answers, etc.
Banging my head against the walls here. One place I worked I did an electric Menorah, dreidels, and gelt, along with a fair amount of glitter because I really like glitter , and that was enough to keep all but the most relentless from trying to force Christmas on me.
They thought it was funny, and getting something so fundamentally wrong about their holiday made it really sunk in that this was NOT my holiday. I kind of want to see the new Star Wars! Fellow Jew, of the observant type. Admittedly an east-coaster, but definitely cognizant of being in the minority, especially where I work.
What about the invitation feels so obtrusive? I totally understand the position of privilege non-Jews come from when they blanket everything in red and green, and how diminishing it feels as the Jewish recipient of that barrage. If the event were explicitly Christ-worship-y, I would totally get it.
But I have frequently invited my non-Jewish friends to seders and other observations in my home; in fact, I love introducing people to how I practice my religion. Unfortunately, nothing will make Christmas go away, short of making Aliyah. On the one hand, yep, go to parties if you want to go to parties!
Who has a wedding on Yom Kippur???? Still mind-boggling to me. Though for some reason all the non-Jewish folks I know love matzah, which I find baffling. Or we feel erased totally by how dominant it is during this month. For some folks, it may not be a big deal, but for others, even just hanging red and green tinsel is alienating.
I mean, generosity, I get it. Economic inequality is real and serious. I like matzah… but I also love eating uncooked oatmeal and as a kid would occasionally sneak spoonfuls of plain flour out of the bag. The layout of a Roman Bath. A strigil was a small, curved, metal tool used to scrape dirt and sweat from the body. First perfumed oil was applied to the skin, and then it would be scraped off, along with the dirt. Slaves scaped off the perfumed oil with a knife called a strigil.
Plan of Bath House at the roman town of Chester. First you would take off your clothes in the changing room. Then you would relax in the warm room called the Tepidarium.
After the Tepidarium you would go into the hot room called the Calarium. The steam in the room would make you sweat. In the next room a slave would scrape off the sweat and dirt with a strigil. You would then jump into the cold bath called the Frigidarium. Remains of part of the Bath House at the Roman town of Chester.
Roman bath in the city of Bath Baths were not only places for washing.
The baths had their own constant supply of fresh water In some places like Bath in Somerset a natural spring provided the bath with its water. Other places the water was either piped in .
Bath houses were used by baths to take a roman, have a massage help chat to friends. The Romans used different letters to represent numbers — we call these Roman numerals, and we still use them sometimes today.
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