My 10-year-old daughter came to me conflicted the other day. She told me that she loves the pretty lights and catchy tunes associated with Christmas, but was concerned that there isn't much to do for us on that day, because we are Jewish. I agreed with her that most stores, restaurants, and offices are closed on Christmas. But this doesn’t mean Jews (or people of other religious faiths who don’t observe Christmas) are left at home with nothing to do!
Quite the contrary, in fact. There are a number of traditions that Jews and others can choose from on Christmas -- and like many aspects of Jewish culture, most of them involve eating good food. Here are some examples of what non-Christians typically do on Christmas:
Chinese Food: Eating Chinese food is the ultimate Jewish tradition on Christmas day. Many Chinese restaurants are open on Christmas, so they are an easy option for anyone looking for a bite to eat on the otherwise restaurant-unfriendly holiday. Eating Chinese food on Christmas is a fairly well known practice and has made its way into popular culture. Can't wait to dig into some chicken and broccoli this year!
Movies: The other main component of Christmas for Jewish people is a trip to the movie theater. Like Chinese restaurants, movie theaters are open on Christmas when little else is, and seeing a film is a great way to spend time with family without having to talk to them. In recent years, Hollywood has made Christmas Day a huge premiere date for important movies, which has given Jews -- and plenty of others -- a wealth of options to choose from.
Spend Time With Family: Even if Jews don’t celebrate the holiday, most people have Christmas Day off from work, so it can be a great time to catch up with family members and spend a relaxing day together. Some Jews also enjoy hanging out with their Christian friends on Christmas -- after all, there’s plenty to the holiday that doesn’t involve specific religious traditions.
Go To The Matzoball: Are you single and looking to mingle? Many cities hold a Jewish singles event on Christmas Eve, which has been dubbed the Matzoball. It’s a chance for Jews to meet potential matches outside online dating and in real life on a night when there is little else going on. The Matzoball website has a list of cities hosting events this year and more details about what you can expect.
Go To Work: Some Jews will take holiday shifts and work on Christmas so their Christian co-workers can make sure to get the day off to celebrate with their families. In industries where offices have to be staffed throughout the holiday season, Jews often like to work around Christmas so they can take time off during other parts of the year when Jewish holidays fall.
Volunteer: Many charity organizations need volunteers on Christmas, and Jews (as well as other non-Christians) are frequently among those who sign up to help. From soup kitchens to homeless shelters to food and warm clothing drives, many synagogues, mosques and other religious institutions organize volunteer teams to work on Christmas since their congregations won’t be observing the holiday.
Catch Up on Your Reading: I love reading books on Kindle. Christmas day would be a great day for me to curl up with a good book from my favorite author, while snuggling with my pups!
Experience Some Local History: TripSavvy.com recently published an article that talks about historical sites in our area that are open on Christmas day. What a great day to tour Mt. Vernon, or take a short trip out to Williamsburg. https://www.tripsavvy.com/christmas-in-nva-1038588.
Cook Something Yummy: Christmas is a great day to experiment with new recipes for dinner and dessert! Cook something yummy? Let us know what it is!
Shop Online: Gotta shop? Amazon and other online stores and auction sites are always open, and there are likely to be some good sales going on!
Whatever you do on Christmas day, hope you have an enjoyable day! For those who celebrate, Merry Christmas!