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What to Tell Kids About Santa When You Don't Celebrate Christmas

As Jews, we don't celebrate Christmas, and while my kids are still little (probably too little to know or care that Santa will visit their friends on December 25th), I'm interested to know how other moms have handled talking to their kids about Santa and why he doesn't visit their house. If you tell your kids that Santa's not real, how do you prevent your kids from telling their Christmas-celebrating friends? What else have your experienced about the holidays and how have you handled it?

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My parents raised me without doing Christmas. They always told me that Santa didn't exist, but they emphasized that it was something that I kept as a secret and I didn't share with my friends. I didn't want to share it with my friends because they all did believe in Santa Claus, and who wants to be an outsider as a child? Also, I think there was a part of me that was always hopeful that maybe I would see a reindeer in the middle of the night Christmas Eve, even though my parents told me otherwise.

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Personally I have explained that Santa visits non-Jews since I wouldn't want my daughter to ruin it for anyone else. I also stress how much better Chanukah is. It lasts 8 days and Christmas is only 1.

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I would definitely not tell them that Santa is a lie. Yes that may not be your belief but, as you know, kids talk and it's really not polite to ruin that for others. I would explain to them that Santa is a christian thing, and that means that "those" kids only get gifts on one night. Being that you are jewish we celebrate (you know, I'm not even going to try and spell it cuz I'll just slaughter it) and we get gifts for 8 days. I'd kind of try and play up the jewish holiday and the history of why you celebrate as you do. Also, I don't really think that there is anything wrong with your kids believing in Santa. He is just the spirit of the holiday season, and it's truly what he represents that matters. Good will towards man and peace and joy of the holiday season. So it's more of what he represents then what he is. Think of him more like the tooth fairy. It represents the magic of the season, to kids he's more then just about x-mas. And there is nothing wrong with your kids believing in magic. That's part of what childhood is all about.

1 mom found this helpful

My parents raised me without doing Christmas. They always told me that Santa didn't exist, but they emphasized that it was something that I kept as a secret and I didn't share with my friends. I didn't want to share it with my friends because they all did believe in Santa Claus, and who wants to be an outsider as a child? Also, I think there was a part of me that was always hopeful that maybe I would see a reindeer in the middle of the night Christmas Eve, even though my parents told me otherwise.

1 mom found this helpful

Dear L.,

Mazel tov on being a wonderful Jewish mom :).

I think the language we use is important. On the one hand, you don't want to say "Santa is a lie." That puts other families down, and it gives kids a "truth" that they're just bursting to tell. On the other hand, you don't want to tell kids that Santa comes to other kids' house but not to theirs. Young children are so sensitive to exclusion and to the idea of being skipped over as it is, and Jewish children always experience some measure of holiday alienation: just picture the typical shop window, festooned with Christmas decorations, and with maybe one tiny menorah in the corner as an afterthought.

My plan (my son's only 2, so I haven't tried it yet), is to say "Santa is part of a different holiday. Some people have Santa and Christmas trees, some people have Kwanzaa, some people have Ramadaan, some people have Diwali, and we have Hanukkah, with the menorah, and dreidel, and presents for 8 nights, etc."

I don't know about explicitly asking a young child not to tell other kids the "truth" about Santa, though. That seems like an impossibly big responsibility, one that's sort of doomed to fail...

Best of luck. If you like, check in with me after the holidays. We can compare notes on what works!

Mira

1 mom found this helpful

HI L.,

I agree with Allison H. Santa Claus is St. Nick and saints are celebrated by Christians. Therefore Santa brings gifts to Christians who believe. And make sure your kids don't feel left out of the gift thing by reminding them that they too receive gifts durig special Jewish celebrations but their gifts come from family.

There is no need to say "Santa is a lie." If non-Santa people respect santa believer's and their traditions they will receive the same respect in return.

1 mom found this helpful

When they are older tell them that Christians get gifts from Santa Claus, and we - as Jewish people get the same type of gifts.. but from each other. don't tell them that Santa is the parents - please?? My son was in kindergarten..and came home one day devasted.. a jewish child told him that Santa was a lie.. that it's really your mom and dad.. I was devasted too.. I told my son that was because he didnt' believe... it's like one lie to fix another ... It's ok to tell them later on.. like 2nd grade about Santa.. and it's just a myth I told my son when he was in 3rd grade about Santa and really about us.. but told him not to tell others so not to ruin Christmas for little kids.. good luck

Both my husband and I are Jewish and have this problem every year with our 3 girls, ages 10, 6 and 3. And it does not help that we live in an area where Jews are the minority. I tell my kids every year that we do not celebrate because we are Jewish and xmas is a religious holiday we don't celebrate. I make a HUGE deal out of CHanukah, found lots of decorations online to decorate the whole house with, have a big family dinner with relatives and open lots of presents, and I got each of my kids their own menorah to light and just let them know that our holiday is just as special as xmas. My oldest did discover last year that Santa was not real and was disappointed (which lead to her next question...what about the toothfairy? but that's a whole other story.) Anyway, she knows she is not allowed to share this huge secret with all her friends that they need to learn the truth from their parents, just as she did.

With all that said, all you can do is just try to make the jewish holidays as special as you can so your kids know being jewish and celebrating jewish holidays can be just as much fun as other religions. It will be hard, espically when they're young and see Santa all over the place, but we survived growing up with Santa and so will your kids. Good luck.

I really thinks it's all in the approach...if you make it a big deal then it becomes just that a BIG deal...decide how you want to handle it and go from there...My MIL is Jewish, my FIL is not and their children(my husband and sibs) are not , but they/we do celebrate with/for my MIL...we've told our kids everyone is different and we've taught them our beliefs and a respect for others. I explain that Santa is for Christmas(and those who are older 8&9 more in depth)and so on and so forth...and they sit and listen and watch the candle prayers with my MIL...there are also a ton of kid books out there...

We, too, are Jewish, and we haven't really had an issue with this. My daughter (5 years old) and twin boys (3) know about Christmas because of course they talk about it in school and do all sorts of holiday things relating to both Christmas and Hannukah. If my daughter ever asks about it or complains about it, I just say that we are Jewish and we celebrate Hannukah. But, like most Jewish people, I love all the Christmas decorations and we always drive around during Christmas vacation week and look at all the houses. Truthfully, as long as our daughter is getting presents, I don't think she cares whether they come from me, Santa, or an elf!!!

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