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Christmas Traditions for Those Who Don't Celebrate the Holiday

Many local families mark the day

The Roth family of West Orange will spend Tuesday with "flicks and 'sticks," says Debra Roth. Three generations of her family, including her children and one set of grandparents, will gather at her home for a movie marathon, the "flicks," and their favorite Chinese food. "That's the sticks, as in chopsticks" she explains.

While her family doesn't celebrate Christmas as a holy day, they have marked the day with movies and their favorite food for decades. The Roths are hardly alone; when Patch asked others how they will spend Tuesday, Nancy Janow of South Orange described a day of movie-going and food from two different Chinese restaurants. "Les Mis" is at the top of the agenda.  Many other local families go into the city for movies and a meal.

While this tradition seems to have evolved organically from what restaurants and businesses were likely to be open on a holiday, some culture scholars claim the tradition began on the Lower East Side.  Others say it started in the Bronx or in San Francisco. 

No matter: for the Roth family, it's a longstanding tradition that nobody in the family can date precisely. "I have no idea when this started," says Roth. "All I know is that my family loved this day when I was growing up. We were the first on the block to have a VCR, which, by the way, we happily unwrapped on Christmas morning."

Alberto Fernandez December 24, 2012 at 10:36 PM
I gon't get it.. Chinese as a substitute for a Christmas meal. It's about as real as a Holiday Tree instead of a Christmas Tree.... kind of lame. Christmas is a special time of year, to be celebrated by everyone. Yep, Christmas is the real thing. Movies and Chinese... ugh.
Joanne Smythe December 24, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Alberto, Christmas is not a holiday for Jewish people.
Alberto Fernandez December 25, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Of course it is. Its a Chinese meal and a movie.
Cecilia Uzzolino Cilli December 25, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Alberto, how do you celebrate the Jewish Holidays? I think it is really nice to have traditions. I am sure mine are different from yours.
James Lawson December 25, 2012 at 04:54 PM
I feel people should celebrate it whichever way makes them happy as long as the family can be together. Some folks don't even have that.
Alberto Fernandez December 25, 2012 at 05:03 PM
We visit the Hanukkah menorah in town, next to the Holiday Tree (really a Christmas Tree
Marianne Barreiro December 25, 2012 at 10:02 PM
When my kids we small we tried this fun change from our sort of traditional Christmas. We loved it. No dishes to make or wash. Sampled things we had never tried, so familiar favorites. Went to a movie theater that wasn't packed and enjoyed the day! Easy, fun day for parents of four. We still reminisce about it.

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