Taking the 'Christ' out of Christmas

Dec. 19, 2006, midnight | By Pia Nargundkar | 13 years, 10 months ago

Blazers of all faiths, and non-faiths, unite for Christmas

The Thanksgiving leftovers are almost all gone, the salt trucks are gearing up to melt away the snow, and Blazers are getting ready for Christmas. To the resentment of some and the delight of others, the celebration of Christmas is becoming less religion-exclusive and more of an American tradition. So whether you are Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, any combination or variation of the previous, or something completely different, it's increasingly likely that you'll be doing something in the spirit of the holiday.

According to a national poll conducted by Opinion Dynamics in November 2005, approximately 95 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas in some way. That percentage echoes Blair's population as well – in a random poll of 70 students during 5A lunch in the week of Dec. 11, 90 percent said they celebrated Christmas.


Senior Shoshi Gurian-Sherman has been celebrating Christmas in one way or another since she was four years old. As a child, Gurian-Sherman, who is Jewish, had been convinced that Santa Claus did not like Jewish children. Her mother, seeking to pacify her, took her to the local mall to see Santa and explain the situation. The Santa told her that he loved all children and he would leave her a small gift if she put up a stocking.

Ever since then she has hung up a stocking every year. When her next-door neighbors moved to her neighborhood around 10 years ago, her family invited them over for Passover. When Christmas came around, those same neighbors invited her family over for a Christmas dinner. Over the years, their families have become very close, and going next door to celebrate Christmas has become an important tradition.

Although Christmas is still a religious holiday for Gurian-Sherman's neighbors, she says that their families meet to celebrate "the universal themes together."

All in the family

Junior Angela Sivak celebrates Christmas with all the bells and whistles. Every year her family buys a tree and decorates it with lights and ornaments. After exchanging presents in their house, they visit her grandparents and then exchange additional presents. Most years they also have a fancy Christmas dinner. Sivak, however, says she is not religious. She celebrates Christmas because her parents are Christian and it's a family tradition. One that's becoming an American tradition too, Sivak believes. She says that with "Wal-Mart and such industries" marketing Christmas as a time to relax and spend time with family, it is becoming more of an American holiday than a religious one "thanking God for the birth of Jesus."

Senior Emily Sutton, a self-described agnostic, agrees with Sivak. She does not get into the Christian holiday spirit, but goes along with it all because of her family. "My parents are Christian, so I do it for them," she says.

Going back to the basics

Not everyone is enjoying the inclusion, though. Junior Hizkias Neway, an avid Christian, is "quite disappointed" over what he sees as the secularization of Christmas. Unlike the others, he argues that the holiday is not mainly about "Santa Claus, gifts or family."

While Neway advocates bringing Christmas back to its religious roots, Blazers like Gurian-Sherman and Sivak will continue their celebrations of the holiday. Says Gurian-Sherman, "Christmas has become more about inclusion and sharing."

Pia Nargundkar. Pia Nargundkar was Editor-in-Chief of Silver Chips Online during the 2007-2008 school year. More »

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