This year, the first night of Hanukkah falls on Christmas Eve.
The Adkins family likes to give Santa some variety on Christmas, so they put out latkes, applesauce and carrots for Old Saint Nick and his reindeer.
It’s the family’s way of celebrating Christmas and staying true to their Jewish heritage and, they figure, Santa may get tired of all the cookies.
The Adkins are an interfaith family. Andrea Adkins and the couple’s daughters, Bentley, 15, and Aiden, 11, are Jewish and attend Congregation Beth Tikvah in Worthington. Chase Adkins grew up Methodist and attends the synagogue with his family, though he hasn’t converted to Judaism.
This year, the first night of Hanukkah falls on Christmas Eve, making the holidays overlap very closely and prompting the Adkins to change their normal Christmas plans. The holidays don’t always overlap this much, usually making it possible to celebrate both without conflict.
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The Adkins’ daughters have always awoken to presents under the tree on Christmas morning and opened Hanukkah presents on the first day of the holiday, but this year, they’re going to open all the presents at the same time, on Christmas Eve and the first night of Hanukkah.
Santa will still get his latkes, as they make them traditionally on the first night of Hanukkah. Andrea Adkins likes that tradition, as it blends both holidays.
When Bentley was 2, the couple decided to raise their children Jewish, though Andrea Adkins is happy to put up a Christmas tree and tuck some presents underneath in a nod to her husband’s childhood traditions.
The Adkins aren’t unusual. A 2015 study by Pew Research Center showed that interfaith marriage is common in the United States.
Four in 10 Americans who have been married since 2010 are with someone who belongs to a different religious group, according to the study.
Chase Adkins said he feels comfortable at the synagogue. He attends because there’s a big emphasis on culture and community, the family has made good friends at the synagogue, and he enjoys learning more about Judaism.
Rabbi Misha Zinkow, at Temple Israel, has noticed an increasing prevalence and acceptance of interfaith couples during his more than 35 years as a rabbi.
“Barriers to marrying a non-Jewish person … have largely fallen to the wayside,” Zinkow said.
Another study from Pew, released in 2013, reported that Christmas is more of a cultural celebration than a religious one, at least in America. The study found that that 81 percent of non-Christians in the country celebrate Christmas.
About a third of Jews, many with non-Jewish spouses, said they had a tree in their house. Overall, about half of Americans celebrate the holiday religiously, and about 32 percent say they celebrate culturally.
The Adkins both knew they wanted to raise their children in a religious home, though Chase wasn’t picky about which religion because he isn’t a practicing Christian.
“There are good lessons and morals to learn, no matter what religion,” he said.
Another lesson he sees his children learning through the blended traditions is tolerance.
“They don’t practice my religion, but it’s understanding you can understand more than one faith,” Chase said.
Sheri Scaglione and her family offer a nod to Christmas tradition with a tree in their Powell home, but they don’t celebrate the religious aspects of the holiday.
Scaglione is Jewish and her husband, Nick, was raised Roman Catholic. The two bring their children to her in-laws each Christmas to eat, open presents and just be together.
“Christmas traditions and services kind of align a lot with Jewish faith,” she said.
“We love it, it’s great memories for the kids,” Scaglione said of the Christmas traditions the family celebrates. “It’s just that sense of family and being together and sharing in these traditions … it’s so fun.”