Dec 172012

Christmas Ornaments - Christmas Question from Alldonemonkey.comBeautiful carols, gingerbread cookies fresh from the oven, glittering lights, and reindeer sleighs–what’s not to love about Christmas?

Yet for the many families who practice faiths other than Christianity, this beautiful holiday can be the source of as much angst as joy. Each year we must grapple with questions such as: How do we explain to our little ones why Santa doesn’t come to our house? Is it wrong to string up some lights or put up a tree even if Christmas isn’t really “our” holiday? More fundamentally, how do we teach our children to respect this special time without confusing them about their own religious identity?

I am so pleased to have my article on this topic published at InCultureParent, the online magazine for parents raising little global citizens:

How We Honor Christmas: Post on InCultureParent


  5 Responses to “How We Honor Christmas: Post on InCultureParent”

  1. I find it interesting that Christmas is celebrated throughout the world in not necessarily Christian cultures. We know devout Buddhists who had no problems taking on the holiday here in America when they came as immigrants. And I worked in a multicultural setting doing volunteer work with families from many cultures. Those of us with Christian backgrounds suggested we not call it Christmas and the non-christians got upset thinking they would not have the tree, lights, Santa etc. I’ve come to the conclusion Christmas is not a religious holiday for most people who celebrate Christmas. It is a celebration of lights, of family time, of giving presents ; and connected to the Winter Solstice more than a religious story. We celebrate Christmas in our family and the children don’t even know there is a religious base to the holiday and at this point no adults in the family are Christians. Maybe Hindus and Buddhists are more inclusive about holidays but even the Muslims in the children’s center wanted to celebrate “Christmas.” Most Jews I know at this point have in-laws and grandchildren from Christian backgrounds, some believers, most not, so these blended families celebrate Christmas and Jewish holidays, both. So I guess I’m just saying Christmas means a lot of things to a lot of folks and for many it has no religious context at all. So it shouldn’t be threatening to anyone at all.

    • Well said! It does seem like Christmas has been embraced by people of many backgrounds, and it is often disconnected from the Nativity story but more of a seasonal and family celebration.

  2. Leanna, thank you for such an insightful post. It’s important to embrace, and accept everyone else’s beliefs. It’s difficult to instill in our children the importance of how to celebrate our own beliefs when we are constantly bombarded “commercially” by Santa Claus. As a Christian, I too struggle to teach my 4 yr. old, that Christmas is not all about Santa, and to remember the reason of the season (as you mentioned in your post). Though, soon enough he will find out that Santa is not real, and we will continue to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. So in the meantime, we will enjoy the “fun and magic” of Santa. 🙂

    • Thank you, Frances! It is hard sometimes to balance these two sides of Christmas – the religious and the secular. As you say, though, Santa is indeed fun and magical, and there’s no reason not to let kids enjoy this! Every family has to come up with its own balance.

  3. […] Santa doesn’t come to our house, I love creating some holiday traditions with Monkey, so he can enjoy the season as much as other […]

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