Some Las Vegas Valley families incorporate multiple religions into holiday traditions

Some celebrate the birth of Christ. Some light the menorah. But for couples and families from different religions, marking the winter holidays is an exercise in the art of compromise.

DESERT SHORES

The Buccieris celebrate Christmas because husband Eddie is Catholic, and Hanukkah because wife Tobie is Jewish.

The Desert Shores couple met in high school and even discussed how to approach the holidays before tying the knot in 1982.

Tobie was adamant that there would be no Christmas tree. Eddie was OK with that. Their first holiday included Christmas dinner and blue lights strung around the house’s door and windows.

“That way, he got his Christmas spirit, but in blue, representing Hanukkah. So, it was the ‘cheat’ way of doing it,” Tobie said. “It relieved me of the guilt.”

They lit the menorah but had a Christmas Day celebration, too.

“And I was always very supportive,” Eddie said. “If someone mentioned Santa, I’d say, ‘But the ‘Hanukkah Man’ is coming, too.’”

About five years into their marriage, their son Adam was born. He got a stocking from Santa and presents for both Hanukkah and Christmas. Tobie made latkes — potato pancakes traditionally made on Hanukkah — and they sang songs associated with both religions.

“Adam had the best of both worlds,” Tobie said.

Fast-forward nearly 30 years and Adam, now a representative for a product called Never Too Hungover that’s billed as a hangover-prevention drink, moved back in with his parents temporarily.

They celebrated the holidays with a Christmas tree despite Tobie’s misgivings decades earlier.

“I said, ‘I don’t care anymore,’” she said, laughing. “I’m comfortable with it. Last year, we stuck little bottles of Never Too Hungover on it.”

SUMMERLIN

Tina Yan and her husband of 13 years, Jay Kenyon, faced a similar dilemma before getting married. She is Christian. He is Jewish.

They vowed to honor both religions while keeping them separate.

“We didn’t want to dilute either holiday,” she said.

Their children, Kenyon, 6, and Avi, 10, attend a Jewish religious school. Family members light a candle on each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, but they also celebrate the birth of Christ. Occasionally, the children accompany their mother to Sunday services.

“We go, ‘Here’s what Mommy believes and here’s what Daddy believes,’” Jay said.

Tina is Chinese, so they incorporate a lot of cultural traditions, such as Chinese New Year. When the children were born, each had a bris (a Jewish ceremony) as well as red-egg parties, marking an infant’s first month.

“It obviously stems out of infant mortality concerns,” she said.

Meanwhile, the family began decorating in early December — the tree, a Mezuzah on the door, a menorah and vintage Chinese art on the wall.

SPRING VALLEY

Another family, the Sligars, also incorporates Chinese traditions into the winter holidays.

Chloe Sligar, 4, is half-Chinese and knows how to say “hello” and “I don’t know” and count to 10 in Chinese. She lives with her mother, Nicole.

Nicole said she has loved Chinese culture since long before her daughter was born. She lived in China, where Chloe’s father is from, for a while. Nicole has tried to visit more frequently to keep Chloe rl connected to her Chinese side of the family and their culture.

Nicole said it’s important for Chloe to honor Chinese traditions alongside American holidays. Every Christmas, Nicole — who practices no particular religion — takes Chloe to visit her aunt, who is Mormon, and participates in a Nativity play with her aunt’s family.

The Sligars celebrate Christmas but also prepare for Chinese New Year. They purchase bright-red Chinese ornaments that hang near the front door year-round.

“There’s a legend that says there is a dragon that lives in the Chinese mountains,” Nicole said. “He doesn’t like red or loud noises, so a lot of the Chinese traditions have to do with keeping that dragon away.”

Each gets a new pair of shoes and a haircut, symbolizing a fresh, clean start for the new year.

Together, the two attend the Chinese New Year celebration in Las Vegas’ Chinatown district. Nicole said Chloe, who is learning kung fu, may be part of the holiday performances soon.

Fifteen days after the Chinese New Year is the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated with food, fireworks and lanterns. To celebrate, Nicole said, the two attend the RiSE Festival featuring sustainable lanterns in the Mojave Desert.

“The lanterns look like crackers,” Chloe said.

To reach Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan, email jhogan@viewnews.com or call 702-387-2949.

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