Though most celebrities know better than to leave latkes on a plate for Santa or hang shiny strands of tinsel on their menorahs, many famous stars of mixed faiths find ways to blend their celebrations of Christmas and Hanukkah. The dual December holiday season is a chance for celeb parents to pass on two distinctly different traditions to their children and break bread with family and friends.
Jack Black, for instance, celebrates what he calls Hanu-Christmas-kah with his wife Tanya Haden and the couple's two sons. Last year he mentioned his marathon holiday obligations to a radio reporter, "My mom and [my wife's] mom celebrate Hanukkah with their new husbands. My dad and her dad celebrate Christmas with their new wives. So we've got four different families to hit."
Whether or not he indulged in brandy-laced eggnog last year, the "School of Rock" actor's head may have spun like a dreidel after all the celebrating. This year, the burly and bearded musician may want to spend some time meditating quietly at home to block out memories of his recent bird-watching themed movie, "The Big Year," a slow-moving film which most critics found as riveting as watching three men (Black and co-stars Steve Martin and Owen Wilson) watch birds.
Another star who celebrates Hanukkah and Christmas is Gwyneth Paltrow, whose family tree on her father's side is riddled with rabbis and whose mother, Blythe Danner, comes from Quaker stock. The "Contagion" actress's husband, rocker Chris Martin, agreed to allow his wife to raise their children Jewish, but Paltrow still adds Christmas to her holiday repertoire in honor of her actress mother.
Nor does the slinky blonde skimp on the secular side of the season. In her most recent gift giving guide in GOOP -- the self-appointed lifestyle guru's how-to-live-like-a-rich-and- famous-actress blog -- she recommends such marvelous must-haves as pillow cases hand stitched with personalized words or names (e.g., a matching set with the words "sweet" and "dreams") and Noel Wiggins' rattles, a toy Paltrow calls the "perfect gift for a baby." The precious metal line of baby amusements sell for up to a mere $200 and require adult supervision, unlike the tacky, cheap supermarket brands that babies can play with by themselves for hours.
Swimsuit model Brook Burke also celebrates Christmas and Hanukkah with her spouse, David Charvet, and four children. The "Naked Mom" author is Jewish on her mother's side, and her husband was raised by Jewish parents in France. The "Dancing with the Stars" host likes the contrast of the more quiet intimacy of Hanukkah -- which includes at-home candle lighting, blessings and latkes -- with the more chaotic Christmas dinners she enjoys with her large extended family. A few years ago she confided to Mommywood that her husband and kids also have a fun family tradition of camping under the Christmas tree one night during the holiday season.
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- Gwyneth Paltrow