More families celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah
Just a few decades ago, it would have been unusual for a family to decorate a Christmas tree and also have a Hanukkah menorah prominently displayed in the same room. Known as the “December Dilemma,” it represented a quandary that sometimes caused great anguish between interfaith couples around how to celebrate their respective holidays.
That issue has all but disappeared with the public’s acceptance of Christian-Jewish unions, with a marriage rate now over 50 percent among Jews in the United States.
“The interfaith dilemma has diminished because people intermarry, and the next generation is becoming more comfortable with that,” said Rabbi Baruch HaLevi of Congregation Shirat Hayam in Swampscott.
These days, it’s not uncommon for religious symbols to sit side by side in a household. Tucked away on a quiet street of ranch homes in Marblehead, an angel-topped tree glistens with lights above a silver menorah in the Bornsteins’ sunken living room. Along the base of the fireplace are monogrammed Christmas stockings; throughout the house are Star of David and dreidel streamers.
For the Bornsteins and other interfaith couples who have chosen to continue to celebrate the religious holidays they grew up with, there is no road map or established etiquette. Some, like the Bornsteins, are keeping holiday traditions of both faiths but raising their children Jewish. Others raise their children as Christians or with both religions; some with none. Few see it as a contradiction, and most say the holidays are more about American culture than religion.