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Christmas Traditions for Those Who Don't Celebrate the Holiday

Many local families mark the day

The Roths 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."

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