How do Jews REALLY feel about Christmas?

How do Jews really feel about Christmas?

I set out to answer a simple question: How do Jews feel about being Jewish on Christmas?

For my very legit research study, I reached out to friends by calling them up, texting them, and messaging them on Facebook. Some answered with one sentence, while others wanted to talk about the topic for 30 minutes. 23 people ended up responding.

The respondents were all adults, 28-72 years old.

They live in Denver, Miami, and New York.

Here’s a chart summing up my findings:

 

As you can see, most Jews I surveyed (about 52%) actually like Christmas.

Here’s the breakdown of why they like it:

WhyJewslikeChristmas

Here’s what the positive respondents said:

“It’s great because we don’t have to worry about gifts.”

“It’s great because a lot of people stress about Christmas and I don’t have to worry about it. But as a kid, I loved it because my father had a toy shop and Christmas was the first day he got to be home in a month. We actually got presents on Christmas morning, which something you didn’t get to experience as kids.”

“Great. I like being Jewish, and in terms of Christmas, I feel no pressure about any gifts or anything, and I like the holiday. I like that it gets low key. People slow down a bit. I’ve always enjoyed Christmas, always. And I’m always sort of sad when it passes, because it’s a nice time of the year.

People are nicer to each other. I got a free coffee at Peets today because it was Christmas Eve. If we were in a place with Anti-Semitism, it might be different, but here in the US we can all celebrate each other for our different religions. It also reminds me of how great our holidays are. Jealousy is a very negative emotion. It’s better to say, ‘Good. You have it, and I have my own.’”

“I like it. I think it’s a funny day. I love saying Merry Christmas to all of my Jewish friends. I feel like it’s this secret holiday that Christians don’t know about. It’s not that we don’t celebrate it, but it’s just the Jewish Christmas, which is totally different. There’s definitely the movie and Chinese food. But there’s also Thai and Indian food. And then the stupid singles events on Christmas Eve. The fact that I don’t celebrate Christmas is a defining quality of being a Jew.”

“On Christmas proper, I honestly enjoy it. Things are quiet and people are with their families. I like the option of doing a movie and Chinese food, but I usually just enjoy going to the park and spending a quiet day in nature. I love having a day off.”

“I like experiencing Christmas around me while not having to participate. Part of the reason of liking it it’s because I experience it as a ‘tourist’.”

“It’s awesome because I just went skiing and no one was on the mountain.”

“It was easier in NYC to be frank. I got a manicure, asked for red with designs and the outcome was quite Christmas-y, hysterical, but I had to change it after awhile. I guess I feel somewhat left out, but I love Christmas.”

“I love Christmas! I love the lights, the decorations, the presents, but most of all I love the atmosphere of good will and that Christmas cheer. I do not feel in anyway intimidated, left out or patronized by the majority who celebrate. It is very much like the feeling I have at synagogue, when someone I do not know is celebrating their Bar Mitzvah. I may not be invited, I am only a spectator in their Simcha (celebration), and yet I am happy for them, and I wish them, with all my heart, all the best.

Christmas is not my holiday. I of course do not embrace its religious significance. But I chose to live in a society where most do. I acknowledge their right, and support their right to “go all crazy” to their heart content in December, and would not ask them to scale it down for the sake of the few. Much like I would not accept my Jewish culture and traditions to be scaled down in Israel, during the month of Tishrei (for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), just because it makes few non-Jews uncomfortable with all the Chagim (holiday) traditions.

Besides, it really IS a good holiday, one that encompass many Jewish values and emphasis: Closeness to God, G’milut Chasadim (acts of loving kindness) towards each other, love of family & friends, Tzedakah (charity for those who are in need), and a general atmosphere of cheer and good will as I mentioned above. And not to mention all the deals in the stores….What not to love? We have so many of these holidays practically every month of the year and many of them are 7 days long! Let the poor Christians enjoy their one day.”

“We love having a day “when the world stops” and we can too. Christmas day we’re not going out to the movies or to eat Chinese food. We’re staying in to spend the day together. Tonight we sat around the dinner table talking a long time, then while I finished making chicken soup, we sang karaoke from a laptop and watched a few informative YouTube videos. Lame to some, yet, for us, just fun to be together laughing and joking with no where to go. Family time, it’s a good thing without the Christmas tree! And, I’ve lived both sides.”

“Happy to be in a country where you can respectfully celebrate many different holidays in peace.”

“Christmas doesn’t bother me at all. I love the lights in NY when I go into the city. The good store decorations are beautiful, but I don’t connect it to religion. It’s a New Year celebration more than a religious celebration.”

About 30% of the respondents said they were pretty indifferent toward Christmas. Here’s what they said.

“Most of my life I was in Israel, and Christmas seemed to be this exotic wonderful thing with all the lights, and the values of family time, and of giving, and the snow. So it always seemed like something exotic that I would want to experience. What I’ve experienced since I moved to the US…no one Christian ever invited me. We don’t always get snow on Christmas, and I don’t like if it snows, because then I can’t run errands anyway. Denver doesn’t have that many lights as other cities, either. It’s not what you see in the movies. But I’m really indifferent to it. It’s also led to making Chanukah something more than it really is.”

“(I feel) the same (about Christmas) as I do every other day of the week… only downside is shops are closed. I just spent 8 separate nights having meals, drinks and great conversations around tables and parties with people celebrating Hanukkah… what’s there to be jealous of?”

“I feel like it’s another work day that also includes Chinese food and a movie afterwards.”

“It’s fine. Sort of nice not dealing with the holiday. Enjoy the increased friendliness from some people.”

“I don’t really think about or notice it is Christmas normally. Most of my friends growing up were Jewish so I never really thought about it.”

“Mostly I’ve just felt kind of bored by it all. When I was little I would be sad that I couldn’t hang out with some friends over winter break because they were doing things for Christmas. Sometimes I feel frustrated always being wished a merry Christmas but usually I know it’s well-intentioned. I got a wax the other day and the esthetician asked if I celebrate Christmas which I really appreciated. Now that I celebrate with my boyfriend’s family it’s fun, but it’s a huge obligation. I feel like people who celebrate Christmas get so many gifts!!”

The remaining 17% of Jews were a little aggravated by Christmas. Here’s what they said:

“I feel a little bit left out on Christmas. I have a little bit of Christmas envy, ever since I was a kid.”

“You know I have mainly just been aggravated at the Christmasizing of Hanukkah. It feels wrong to take a holiday that celebrates a war fought so we don’t have to assimilate and to make it into Jewish Christmas with the Star of David tree toppers and blue lights.”

“I just wish everyone in America didn’t assume you celebrate and wish you merry Christmas!”

“Personally I think that the nation’s take on Christmas certainly violates the separation of church and state. Why do we get Christmas off? Pisses me off.”

Other findings:

Out of the 23 people who responded, only 2 minded being wished a “Merry Christmas,” so wish away.

Despite the common belief that Jews are jealous of Christmas, only 1 out of 23 people said they feel jealous of Christmas. (Of course, these were adults, so you might get a different response if you surveyed 23 kids.)

My take on being a Jew on Christmas:

I’ve always loved Christmas lights, and the warmth and celebration that comes with the holiday. But I don’t feel sad or left out because I’m Jewish.

One final thought from a respondent who didn’t really fit into any of the categories:

Chew on that for a bit.

Merry Christmas!