My Jewish love for Santa Claus.

Growing up in Soviet Union in the 70s we were not allowed to believe in anything but communism.  All the churches were nothing but museums, all the synagogues were lonely buildings, that nobody knew anything about it. None of us  knew about Christmas, Chanukkah, Easter, and Passover. The Soviet Government invented their own holidays and honestly we, the kids did not mind, we did not know any better. The only holiday that had nothing  to do with communism was the NEW YEAR!!!!

On this holiday everybody were putting up trees, and NO those weren’t  Christmas trees or  Chanukkah Bushes, those were  NEW YEAR trees, free of all the religious and  communism symbols.

Our family tradition every year was for my father, my brother and I to go out and to buy a tree. It was the most wonderful, exciting time for us, and nobody cared if we were Jewish or not.  It was the time we were waiting for Grandpa Frost and his granddaughter Snow Maiden to visit us and to bring us our gifts.  It was the most magical time for all the kids and even adults. It was and still is one of  my favorite holidays.

Grandpa Frost and his granddaughter Snow Maiden.

… that was then…..before we moved to USA.

We came here in  January of 1991 and all the holidays were over , ….but 11 months later we decided to go with our family tradition and to put up a New Year Tree for our 2-year-old son.  My husband would dress up as Grandpa Frost and I would be his Snow Maiden 🙂 Fun isn’t it?!?!?!?  Oh boy, were we surprised and shocked when everybody around us started to tell us not to do it. “You came here as Jewish refugees and you have to respect all the Jewish traditions”

Whaaaaaaaaaa….?!?!?! Are you kidding ?!?!?!

We could not understand what our New Year Tree or Grandpa Frost have to do with us being Jewish? We just wanted to have fun with our son on our favorite holiday; we didn’t want to offend anybody.  My hubby and I looked at each other, then we looked at our baby……..“Screw them!” we thought and decided to celebrate the best of both worlds Old and New!!!! We lit our Menorah (by the way we found out about Chanukkah only when we came over here) and we put up our New Year Tree and YES we had our own Grandpa Frost that year, who brought presents for all of us.

Speed forwarding 20 years,  my 2 boys love, love, love both holidays. What not to love, they get their gift on Chanukah and on New Year.  We now celebrate every Jewish holiday that we weren’t allowed back in USSR,  but a the same time we cherish our own family tradition and for the past twenty years and for the next twenty we are celebrating NEWYERKKAH! (borrowed from Chrismukkah :)) with our own New Year Tree and our beloved Grandpa Frost , who, I assure you, has nothing to do with Christmas.


About Ariana

I came to USA about 20 years from former USSR. I am an American Citizen with a heavy Russian Accent. My two boys always make fun of my English. I love to write, I usually do it for me, but if you would like to stop and leave a comment it would be great! I ‘d love to share with you my American World with the hint of my Russian Personality.
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3 Responses to My Jewish love for Santa Claus.

  1. leahsinger says:

    Wonderful post! I can very much relate to this and I can understand you’re feelings when people “questioned” your Judaism for celebrating what was your tradition. As you pointed out, it was nothing to do with religion, but the way your family celebrated and rang in the new year. I think it’s great you’re still carrying on your traditions with your family. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. Janna says:

    Thank you for writing this story. It made me to relieve my childhood memories, and my New Year tree. I still feel the magic of the holiday time and put up my tree, despite of ethnic origin or religious believes…

  3. Pingback: Merging traditions. | Pearl's twirl

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