Oh Christmas Tree: A Discussion Packet

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It’s not an elephant in the room–it’s just a little pine tree.

Want to talk about it?

How do interfaith families decide whether to have a Christmas tree? Does it depend on whether you are religiously observant of Judaism? Of Christianity? Does it bother the Jewish partner to have one, or the non-Jewish partner not to have one?

Christmas tree image

One thing we don’t know for sure is what having a Christmas tree means for the children of interfaith families. Jewish social scientists assume that it’s an indicator of lack of commitment to Jewish life. Interfaith families, on the other hand, disagree. According to InterfaithFamily.com’s survey data, most interfaith families raising Jewish children who have Christmas trees at home view them as secular symbols.

The whole question may turn out to be a big evergreen red herring. Since the Jewish community has been more welcoming of children of interfaith families, other factors than pine needles in the carpeting may be more important. For children who go to Hebrew school, have bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies, light Shabbat candles and go to Jewish camp, a Christmas tree may not have any religious signficance or confuse them as to their Jewish identity.

In the meantime, the choice about whether to have a Christmas tree at home and how to think about it is an important relationship question for interfaith couples.

It’s not an elephant in the room–it’s just a little pine tree.

Want to talk about it? Try our new discussion packet for interfaith couples called Oh Christmas Tree (PDF) (Also available in Word format.)