Talking to kids about Xian holidays ...

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Registered: 03-26-2003
Talking to kids about Xian holidays ...
2
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 9:41am
After completing kindergarten in a terrific private, synagogue-affiliated program last year, my ds is currently in the "homestretch" of 1st grade in public school. He is also, for some reason, really "into" calendars this year. Sometimes after hearing his non-Jewish friends discussing their holidays, or when he sees a gentile holiday on his calendar (April is a biggie: Good Friday, Easter, Eastern Orthodox Easter, Palm Sunday) he asks me about it. I have *no* problem giving him a summary of what I know about a particular holiday ... my explanations are always prefaced by "Xtians celebrate this holiday because they believe ..." and ended with "but we don't celebrate it as Jews, becuse we do not share that belief". If I don't really know what the particulars of a holiday are, or if he has any specific questions I can't answer, I will surf the 'net to get more info ... pretty much how I work it for ANY questions he might have.

Do your kids ever have questions about the "other" holidays? How do you handle their questions about holidays that are "not ours" to observe? Do you answer their questions "impartially", or change the subject, or use it as an opportunity to teach them about the Judaic "take" on particular issues? How much "editorializing" do you do about the Xtian beliefs involved?

My response to these types of questions is that I try very hard to stay factual and not to get into any semblance of an "our way is better than their way" discussion; obviously, I *never* ridicule anyone else's beliefs. If the question provides a natural segue to something about Judaism about which I am aware, then I will "go there" ... otherwise, I just answer his questions and not try to artificially make that type of a leap. Sometimes he has questions about the more ... kid-oriented aspects of these holidays (such as santa and the bunny), but other times his questions are more religious in nature. (I have not told him definitively that santa and the bunny are not real, since I don't want him to spoil it for any of the other kids. I do tell him, however, that some Xian people believe that they are real, while other people are not so sure ... but that these characters are not connected with the holidays that we celebrate. He does, however, FIRMLY believe in the Tooth Fairy, LOL!)

FWIW, DH and I incorporate the religious aspects of Judaism that mesh with our own beliefs and values, but we are not afraid to question (and learn more about) those tenets that we do not agree with. Most would probably consider us to be primarily "cultural" Jews; however, we consider ourselves to be quite spiritual, dh hails from an observant Conservative upbringing, and we belong to a Reform temple that is on the "more observant" end of the Reform spectrum.

Just trying to jump-start the board a bit! (Hi Jan!) ~ ruth

Avatar for cl_janetlh
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 11:10am
Great question! Thanks, Ruth. You get a gold star for this one ;-)

Sam and Rachel also ask about the xtian holidays, and the questions get more detailed each year, so hang on! I answer to the best of my ability, in a similar way that you do. "They believe this is the day that ...... It's not our holiday, because we don't believe ..... (usually, in J suffices)." I, like you, would look up more answers or call a friend if I thought it was important to go beyond what I know off the top of my head, but right now, my answers are usually enough to satisfy us. I had several close Catholic friends in Jr. High and High School, and we were "into" talking about religion, so I'm usually OK with general and holiday questions. These friends also came to my house for Passover seders.

Personally, I am fascinated with learning about different religions. I never avoid any subject my children raise with me anyway! Religion is easy compared to some other topics ;-)

Janet

Janet


Jewish Family Life

Avatar for yuccabugg
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Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 04-04-2003 - 7:35pm
One of the schools I am considering going to is Boston College, which is a Jesuit school. I've always gone to public school and although I'm in a very Jewish area, I am friends with people of all relgions. It sounds like what you're telling your children is perfectly fine :)