By Contributor Jen Shragge.
Our household a pretty unique make-up. My family identifies as Jewish, while my husband’s as Zoroastrian. I hadn’t even heard of my husband’s religion when we first met! I was raised by two very liberal parents who did not push a religious agenda (they were classic 1970’s hippies if I’m being totally honest) and while I did attend the odd bar mitzvah and family Passover meal, being Jewish was not really part of my upbringing.
My husband’s parents immigrated to Canada in the mid 1970’s and found a small community of other Zorastrians, but there are so few in Canada that other than the ONE in Toronto, there aren’t even any fire temples (places of worship) to attend. They attended religious ceremonies at other people’s houses and observed their holidays, but my husband also contends that religion wasn’t a large part of his childhood either.
Fast forward to today. We both feel that religion is not part of our day to day, but do want our children to know where they came from and to make their own decision about religion. We have exposed them to as many cultural events as possible and we even enjoy the family-oriented nature of the Christmas holiday. Yes, my kids believe in Santa. I know that it may be a bit confusing for them as they get older, but we also have Passover and Rosh Hashanah dinner each year with family and my in-laws are planning to have a Navjote, which is similar to a Bar Mitzvah, for both kids around the age of 10.
While we do not focus on religion, my kids enjoy many of the cultural events and celebrations that we both grew up with and even some that we didn’t experience! As a couple, we want to expose our children to as much as possible without pushing any specific religious agenda upon them. Should they express interest in attending synagogue, we would happily find one that was accepting of inter-faith families. Or if they wanted to learn more about Zoroastrianism, we would ensure that their grandparents or aunts/uncles/cousins shared as much with them as they could.
This time of year is actually one of my very favourites. We have a menorah that we light for 8 nights and sing the traditional Hebrew prayers along with it. My kids love spinning dreidels and eating chocolate gelt. We also have a Christmas tree and decorate gingerbread houses on Christmas Eve. I also happen to have a baby born right on Christmas day so we have a birthday party on Boxing Day as well! I hope that as they get older they look back fondly at their diverse celebrations and choose the ones that they love the best to share with their own families.
What is your favourite holiday celebration/tradition?