Christmas? New Year’s? Both?

With the holiday season approaching, we are wondering what and how do we want to celebrate. Christmas? New Year’s? Both?

We are not religious. We have our own beliefs, but we do not belong to any religion. We grew up in a country where religion was prohibited for decades. We grew up in a country where, so as not to fight with the strong traditions, the Christmas tree and gifts and meals were all re-allocated to New Year’s celebrations. Many people in my birth country put the tree on December 31st and open presents on January 1st. “Grandpa Frost” – the Russian analog of Santa Claus – comes on the New Year’s night to those who behaved. It’s basically the same holiday – but stripped off of all the religious connotations. That’s what we grew up with.

Ever since we moved to Canada, we celebrated both holidays – Christmas and New Year’s, but kept the gift exchange to the New Year’s. It’s nice to celebrate when most of your neighbours celebrate, too – so we adopted the Christmas tradition into our house, too. Still stripped of all the religious connotations. We put the tree somewhere mid-December, we bought a few CDs with Xmas music, we even made apple-stuffed duck last year for Xmas (turkey is too big).

But now that we have Timothy, we wonder. All Timothy’s friends will get presents on the 25th. Won’t it be too cruel to make him wait until January 1st for Grandpa Frost’s gifts? Everyone will be sharing the stories and showing off their gifts – and Timothy will be sitting in the corner, empty-handed?

Now, I know there are lots of kids who don’t have Xmas trees and Santa Clauses at all. Lots of my friends are Jewish, but quite a few of them succumb and give presents regardless…

So we decided that we can keep with celebrating both holidays – to carry on the New Year’s tradition – and give gifts on both. One holiday with a big gift, one – with a small, symbolic one. The question remains open – which should be which. Which holiday commands a big present and which – small?..


6 thoughts on “Christmas? New Year’s? Both?

  1. redshoesofrealestate

    I had to do the same with my daughter. But I gave her two medium-small gifts on each occasion – one from us and one from santa or ded moros for new years. That way she was getting more of what she wanted. Since 4 years she was writing to Santa and we bought presents from that list. Grandma was also buying two presents. I think it is more of a quantity for little kids.

    melady24 from livejournal…:)

  2. BleedingTulip

    I really need to read up on Russian history… I know that there was a huge number if priests and believers who were imprisined and martyred for their faith but I’m really not familiar with WHY it all happened… Especially we are Orthodox, and Russia (now) is such a hub of our faith.

    Anyway, I think every family does things a little different. As you pointed out, lots if Jewish families don’t celebrate Chrustmas at all. We don’t plan to tell Seedling about “Santa Clause” – which has REALLY upset some if our family and friends. But we would rather talk about a real person (Saint Nicholas, Jesus) than some fictional character.

    I think pick the idea(s)/traditions that make sense to you. Luckily Timothy is young enough that if it takes a holiday season or two to decide on what works for you, he won’t be old enough to remember of miss anything in the future. But I would say: don’t do something JUST BECAUSE everyone else does it. Just because you may do something differently than the “average” household doesn’t mean it will be a negative thing for Timothy. It’s good for him to learn to be ok with being different from his classmates. If its not Christmas, it will be over something else.

    1. newtorontomom Post author

      The short answer for WHY it happened – when the bolsheviks (communists) came to power, they didn’t want to share that power with the church. They wanted people to believe in their doctrine and their doctrine only. Of course, the reality was far more complicated than this, but that’s it in the nut shell.

      Thank you for your perspective on the holidays. You bring a good point that if not over xmas, Timothy will feel “different” over something else. I really shouldn’t think much about.

      And it’s very true that we still have a couple of years to figure it out πŸ™‚

  3. Mrs FF

    Hey, it is always a tough one just because things are so commercialised these days especially Christian holidays (easter eggs, christmas trees, mothers’day, father’s day etc). I think it is up to you and your hubby to decide on the traditions you want to keep and have as a family. Does your hubby share the same views as you or is he into the whole Santa Claus, Christmas tree etc. I have a friend who is Jewish and they have the biggest Christmas tree I have ever seen, and on the same breath I have friends who are Christians and don’t even do the Christmas tree thingy or santa claus etc. Whatever you do, I believe the most important thing are the memories you would make and like bleedingtulip said you have a few seasons to decide what would work best for your family before Timothy can start to question you about what he really wants πŸ˜‰

    1. newtorontomom Post author

      See – I like the idea of these holidays. I am not “in” on the religious side of them, but I love the idea behind them” mother’s day, father’s day, the games, the family meals, the anticipation.

      Russian holidays aren’t like that. They are formal. Except for New Year’s, I can’t think of a single family-oriented holiday. National unity. Victory day (WWII). Independence day. International women’s day. It’s all great to have days off and to have holidays to commemorate big milestone’s in a country’s history – but the tumultuous era of communism erased all the family values and traditions, it seems.

      And now that we live abroad (with no intentions of ever moving back to Russia), we are caught in the middle – what and how should we celebrate? And I don’t think it’s the commercialization appeal. I couldn’t care less about Valentine’s, really – it’s a made-up, truly commercial holiday. But the turkeys for thxgiving and xmas, the get-togethers for family day and all that – I embrace it.


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