Celebrating Holidays Without Religion

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.

Celebrating Holidays Without Religion

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.

Celebrating Holidays Without Religion

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.

Celebrating Holidays Without Religion

Celebrating Holidays Without Religion

What is your favourite holiday celebration/tradition?

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Jen Shragge is a yoga instructor and all around eco-diva. She now lives back in her hometown of Toronto after ten years in the Vancouver area. Jen’s days are filled by her seven year old son and husband plus her toddler who was crazy enough to make her arrival on Christmas Day. In her spare time, (do moms really have spare time!?) Jen is a stylist for Peekaboo Beans, a play-focused quality children's clothing line.

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13 responses to “Celebrating Holidays Without Religion”

  1. We celebrate the holidays and we are
    not religious. Great to see the different ways people celebrate!

  2. Thanks for sharing a bit of who you are with us. We are Christians so celebrating Christmas is very important to us. The birth of our Savior. I love the Christmas season the decorating the time spent with friends and family and the spiritual importance. I also love learning about others, their cultures, what they believe, there traditions. So thanks again for sharing.

    • I should say thank you to your contributor for sharing.

  3. I was raised Roman Catholic but I’ve adopted traditions from all over. I respect all religions and cultures. I love this time of year because it’s a time everyone opens their hearts, regardless of their beliefs. Religion or not, Christmas is special.

  4. We are not religious and I love celebrating all holidays, I have no complaints or squabbles about anyones religion, I find Christmas is the only holiday that most people can get along all together!!

  5. Thank you for this!! I am not religious, but Christmas (or Holidays or whatever you want to call it!) is a great family time of year 🙂 Happy Holidays!

  6. Wow, Zoroastrian and Jewish heritage; that is an interesting and unique combo. Its rare that I find people who even know what Zoroastrianism is! Is your husband a Parsi (family from India or East Africa)?

    Religion is all well and good, but its the spirit of the season that matters; gathering with family and friends, sharing your time and fortune (with everyone and especially those with less), expressing kindness and love. Standard practices common to all religions. Blessings to you and your family.

    • He is Parsi! Indian born but moved to Canada as a toddler! We really enjoy all the holidays and it is one of the few times we are all together so it really is wonderful!

  7. There are a lot of mixed religions in my family. Of my 7 only 4 are married, of those 3 are mixed marriages, Church of England, Catholic, Evangelical and a Buddist are all there. I don’t think it matters what religion you are, family is family and we all enjoy celebrating together when we can.

  8. Not religious but I enjoy the holidays and like it when everyone is joyful.

  9. I had never heard of Zoroastrian so I am googling it now.

  10. Thank you for sharing a bit about yourself. I was raised Roman Catholic in a small New Brunswick city and there was not many religion. When I move to AB I was fascinated and intrigue at all the church and religion!

  11. We are Catholics and go to church whenever we can . I find your husband’s religion fascinating and sounds like a wonderful celebration your family does.

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