Natalie Portman: ‘It’s kind of every Jew’s secret wish to have a Christmas tree’

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Natalie Portman appeared on The Tonight Show last night to promote Jackie, her Oscar-bait hopeful. Honestly, I haven’t had any issues with Portman’s promotional tour thus far. She’s been steering clear of hot-button issues, and she just doesn’t seem as smug as she usually does. She was even cheerful with Jimmy Fallon, chatting away about her pregnancy and her holiday plans. Note: Jimmy Fallon is the one annoying me in this clip. He’s slurring his words and it makes me wonder if he actually is drinking on the job.

Natalie confirms her pregnancy but says “It’s weird because I’m a small person in general, so you show a lot faster and a lot more when you’re small. Everyone thinks I’m about to pop and about to give birth any minute, and I have months to go.” That is weird, because she’s been looking pretty pregnant for months now, I had been assuming that there would be some awkward timing if she actually did have to go through a big Oscar campaign. Like, isn’t the baby due in January or February? But I guess not.

After that discussion, they talk about her holiday plans and she says that Benjamin’s parents are coming to America to celebrate the holidays with Natalie and her family. All of her life, Natalie and her family have only celebrated Hanukkah, but for the arrival of the Millepieds, Natalie’s family will be doing a Christmas tree for the very first time. She told Jimmy:

“I celebrate Hanukkah; I’m Jewish. But my husband’s family celebrates Christmas, so we usually do Hanukkah at ours and Christmas at theirs, but this year it’s the same time, which is really nice. So, they’re coming to us—to my parents. I was asking my husband, ‘Is it OK if we don’t have a tree?’ And my parents are like, ‘We can get a tree!’ So excited! Like, my whole life — no Christmas tree. And then all of a sudden they have this great excuse, because it’s kind of every Jew’s secret wish to have a Christmas tree. It’s so pretty! It’s like, ‘Why can’t we have that, too?’ It took 35 years to get here!”

[From E! News]

I think that’s cute! And yes, I’ve heard stories about many Jewish or multi-faith families doing Christmas trees, just because they’re pretty and festive and why not? I think it’s sort of sweet to think about Natalie and Benjamin’s families coming together with a Christmas tree and a menorah.

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Photos courtesy of WENN, Fame/Flynet.

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59 Responses to “Natalie Portman: ‘It’s kind of every Jew’s secret wish to have a Christmas tree’”

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  1. Shambles says:

    I find her insufferable. Can’t help it.

  2. Chaine says:

    She’s so cute! I really haven’t ever had an opinion one way or another about her but she looks adorable and seems so sweet. Jimmy and the slurring is awful, you are so right, he is drunk on the air. He has morphed into a caricature of himself, or maybe into a caricature of a character he once played on SNL?

  3. No secret wish says:

    No it’s not every jew’s secret wish. If you have pride in your own religion you don’t need to pine for someone else’s.

    • BonnieJean says:

      …but she seems to be doing this out of respect & to accommodate her husbands’ parents. Nothing wrong or unseemly about that.

    • Wiffie says:

      “Pine” i see what you did there….

    • Mia4S says:

      Not every one’s secret wish but it’s hardly pining for Christianity if you want one. I have Jewish friends who get one (and some who just enjoy coming to tree decorating parties) and it has nothing to do with religion. Hell, it is basically a pagan tradition co-opted by Christians!

      • We Are All Made of Stars says:

        Thank you. Tree decoration has been done for thousands of years, well before the advent of modern religions. And seriously, look at the shopping orgy in this country and tell me that this is a sacred religious holiday for most people. Yeah right.

      • Luca76 says:

        Yes its totally a pagan tradition as are most Christmas traditions. Anyway I don’t think it has to do with pride in religion I also know lots of non Christian people who have trees bushes etc because they find them pretty.

      • valkenburg says:

        I came here to say the same! In Turkey it’s so normal to have a decorated, lit up tree (by secular or even Muslim families) and all the malls in Turkey are decorated for what we call “Christmas”, but is actually pagan traditions adopted by the Catholic church because they couldn’t get the peasants to stop participating in the pagan festivities all over. Although we Jews have traditionally not celebrated anything to do with “Christmas” because of the association with “Christ”, for most Jews these days being Jewish has less to do with religion and people can just do whatever they want.

      • teacakes says:

        @valkenburg – same, but for India.

        The way Natalie feels about Christmas trees is how I’ve felt about Diwali or Durga Puja sometimes – like I WANT to join in all the pretty lights and festivities (which are for everyone, it’s fairly secular) but can’t participate to a full extent because I know I don’t belong to that religion.

      • Tippet says:

        My family and myself have been atheists since the 1970s. We’ve always gotten into the whole festive Christmas thing. Zero to do with Christianity.

    • spidey says:

      @ No secret wish – was that pun intentional?

    • Cannibell says:

      As kids, my sister and I used to drag the discarded trees home so it would look like they’d been ours! As if anyone would have believed the rabbi’s family had a tree. It wasn’t about Christmas for us – I can’t speak for my sister, but I just thought they were pretty. I was cured of my tree lust the year a congregant made us a “Hanukkah bush.” She’d basically put a papier mache ball covered in tinfoil on top of a broomstick stuck in a flowerpot and then covered it with crepe paper twisties in blue and orange. Politely put, the thing was an eyesore and an embarrassment. My sister, though, kept some sort of small triangular something with decorations on it in her closet for years after…..

      Now, we’re both very happy to live in tree-free houses with our menorahs, and go to our non-Jewish relations’ houses to help them celebrate Christmas.

    • ol cranky says:

      thank you

      dear lord if one more person tells me to get a “Chanukah bush” or complains that I hate Christmas because I don’t celebrate it in my own home, my head is going to explode

  4. WTW says:

    I believe Christmas trees, like Easter eggs, have pagan roots anyway, so I wouldn’t feel too guilty about secretly wanting a Christmas tree if I were her. In my family, there’s another Xmas tree conflict. I’m from the Midwest and believe in real Christmas trees, and my husband is from Phoenix and his family uses a plastic tree and thinks everyone else should, too. We live in California, but the Midwest in me will never agree to have a plastic tree.

  5. eto says:

    I’m an atheist who loves Christmas trees so I can relate. Nothing like cuddling at night with only the light of the tree :)

    • greenmonster says:

      Same here. I know why christmas is celebrated, but in my family it is just a holiday for the family. We get together, fight, get drunk und laugh it all off or keep arguing – all happening underneath the beautiful lights of a christmas tree.

  6. Unmade_bed says:

    Oh, no! The story here is sadly Jimmy Fallon’s drinking problem. He’s so sloshed, and it’s embarrassingly obvious. I may be projecting, but NP seemed aware of and bothered by it. I wonder why he drinks so much? Does he have depression, or chronic pain?

    • EEV says:

      Oh man, I guess so – that was hard to watch! I don’t know if NP was bothered by it, but she was for sure aware – you’d have to be a ROCK not to know he was sloshed!

    • LA says:

      I was coming here to say there same thing. Dude is HAMMERED.

  7. perplexed says:

    She seems nicer when she’s pregnant.

    Maybe dieting brings out the crankiness.

  8. trillian says:

    Why do you need an excuse? Holidays are for celebrating. I am an atheist and of course we have Christmas lights and a tree. It’s a tradition.

    • Cee says:

      She’s not atheist, she’s jewish and it’s not part of their tradition just like christian would not have a menorah.

      I do know a lot of jewish families with christmas trees and presents. They just want to join in on the fun without replacing their traditions and religion.

      • trillian says:

        I know. It’s a tradition for me/my family. What I mean is there are plenty reasons to put up a tree when you want to. No need to replace anything, just add to it.

      • Luca76 says:

        I know she’s Jewish but identitying as Jewish because of her family’s culture isn’t the same as being an observant Jew. I have a lot of friends that are Jewish and they are almost all secular/agnostic and one is an avowed atheist. They all consider themselves Jewish celebrate holidays etc because they think it’s important to keep the culture alive.

      • Amy Tennant says:

        Natalie is a very observant Jew I believe. Isn’t she actually from Israel? I can understand why someone of the Jewish faith would be hesitant to participate in Christmas celebrations, although I think for many people Christmas is pretty much a secular holiday. It happens to be a religious holiday for me, but the secular side certainly doesn’t bother me. And actually, I’ve given serious thought to observing Jewish holidays too since Judaism is part of my faith tradition. Old Testament and all that, Jesus was a Jew and celebrated Passover, etc.

    • JulP says:

      My husband and I are also atheists and we put up a Christmas tree every year. We also buy each other presents. Christmas has become so commercialized, who cares if atheists or Jews or people of other religious denominations celebrate as well?

  9. TheSageM says:

    I am an atheist and i put up a Christmas tree. I used to have a Jewish boyfriend who used to do the same.

  10. FishBeard says:

    She’s like 5″4 right? My close girlfriend is 5″2 and looked ready to pop at about four months into her pregnancy. But she’s right, it’s hard to estimate the due date for petite women.

    Love, love, love Natalie. She’s been my girl crush since V for Vendetta.

  11. Scarlet Vixen says:

    I grew up not observing Christmas or Hanukkah (or Easter…or birthdays). My father was Jewish, mum was Catholic, and they both quit those faiths and converted to an Old Testament focused Christian church. I was okay without the gifts, the songs, the easter egg hunts, etc. But the one thing I always wanted was a Christmas tree. That was also the one thing my mum seemed to miss about her childhood Christmases. She would tell me stories of how they would do a different color theme each year-blue & silver, red & gold, green & white. Something about the tree always seemed…magical. Now that I’m married with kids and converted to a Christian church I love my tree. :)

  12. HappyMom says:

    We’re Jewish (but I converted and my family is Catholic). When my parents come for the holidays we put up a tree-I love it. However, I hate that this year Hanukkah starts Christmas Eve-I like my holidays and decorations separate. I’m putting everything up right now and I have separate “zones” for my Hanukkah and Christmas decorations. Life can be pretty grim so why not celebrate more when you can?

  13. S says:

    Oh, I always think she is charming and intelligent. I think she just has RBF.
    Jimmy went in and out but at times he sounded really inebriated. Is that just how he talks sometimes? Or can he just pull it together at moments to sound coherent but only for 5 second stretches?

  14. OTHER RENEE says:

    No, Natalie, not every Jew yearns for a Christmas tree. I’m happy with my Menorah and Chanukah decorations thank you. And my 20+ year old daughter doesn’t need a Christmas stocking either. She’s perfectly happy with the blue and white Chanukah stocking I bought for her.

    • Snarky says:

      Yep, as a Jew, I personally just yearn for special snowflake type celebrities to stop speaking for all Jews.

  15. Molly says:

    I swore off Jimmy Fallon after his DJT interview, but wow that was uncomfortable to watch. He’s totally drunk. He gets giddy and wound up if he’s got someone like Justin Timberlake on, but no one is THAT amped to talk to Natalie Portman without some substance assistance.

  16. Bella bella says:

    OY. No Natalie, this Jew has never had a secret wish to have a Christmas tree! It is a great joy to me that I don’t celebrate Christmas — it seems so stressful!

  17. Vee says:

    Used to like her but pretentious has taken over. I have never wished secretly or otherwise that we had a Christmas tree.There are beautiful trees everywhere to admire and if you are Jewish and want one then do what you feel comfortable with. My ex was not Jewish and took our son to his parents for Christmas.
    My problem was people who said to me over and over that I was depriving my child by not having a tree because Chanukah is a “poor imitation” of Christmas and that he will be left out.The biggest criticism was that didn’t I understand that Christmas had become the universal holiday that nobody works on Christmas and it has nothing to do with religion anymore anyway. I could have sworn it had something to do with religion and that’s fine and I respect that and have enjoyed functions each and every Christmas with friends.But it is based in religion which just isn’t mine. I do not feel that my son was deprived.

    • Matomeda says:

      Christmas is religious for us. We go to church, set up a manger, and read lots of books about jesus’ birth with the kids….

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      You were told Chanukah is a “poor imitation of Xmas?” Ouch. So wrong, so insensitive. We usually go with explaining it’s not the biggest holiday of the Jewish calendar (AKA “It’s not the Jewish Christmas”), it’s mostly for children, and we enjoy the lights — and sometimes, gifts for 8 nights! Who can argue with 8 nights of gifts? : )

      I like sparkly lights in winter but still know Christmas has the words “Christ” and “mass” in it.

      • Snarky says:

        I’ve heard people say that. It’s a Christianocentric irony. Chanukah is neither a huge holiday, nor is it in any way thematically linked to Christmas. It celebrates non-assimilation, and a refusal to be absorbed into surrounding religions and cultures, at all
        costs. But, it falls near Christmas, so it must be treated like a poor-man’s-Christmas.

      • Amy Tennant says:

        Yeah I can’t believe someone said that to you. Actually I can, sadly. How rude!!! Also, he really does seem drunk. I wasn’t going to watch the video, but so many people were making comments about it I had to see for myself! Of course, there could be other explanations. Maybe he had really low blood sugar, or he could be on some meds or something. He could even be sick (I get drunk-like loopy when I’m running a fever), although in that case I would be worried about getting Natalie sick. Ehh, most likely he’s drunk. I just don’t like to jump to conclusions. He is definitely “off,” whatever the cause, and seems absolutely smashed.

  18. teacakes says:

    I don’t see why non-Christians can’t have Christmas trees if they like them, the tree was a pagan thing co-opted by Christianity anyway.

    My family is Christian but Orthodox, so I never got Christmas presents growing up – Easter is the bigger deal for us (but still no presents tho). I would co-opt the hell out of some other denomination’s Christmas gifting traditions if I could. So yeah, I can’t begrudge Natalie her tree! It’s nice to get to honour two families’ faiths at once.

  19. Donna Martin says:

    An Xmas tree is not religious everyone who wants one have it! So much fun

  20. Nefer says:

    I am an observant Jew and I am quite happy with my Hannukiah .I love that it runs concurrent with Christmas this year.Everyone will be out of school and off work this year to celebrate.

  21. Achoo says:

    Decorated end of year trees are not actually a Christian tradition despite the name Christmas tree, they are Pagan in origin along with the yule log and just usurped by Christianity in order to make the transition from the old religious traditions to the new Christian ones more palatable and familiar in Northern Europe. Christianity replaced the Mother Goddess image previously placed at the top of the tree with the Star. Even now some Christmas trees still have a ‘wishing fairy’ at the top instead of a star (mine included).

  22. OTHER RENEE says:

    FYI Chanukah is not a gift giving holiday in Israel. It’s considered a minor holiday. Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover are the biggies and people often give gifts on Rosh Hashanah and Passover.

  23. amp122076 says:

    He seems trashed and she definitely seems aware.

  24. manda says:

    I grew up with a lot of Jewish people, and my friends loved helping me with the tree. I don’t think they cared so much about having one, but it is fun decorating it. I was always jealous of my friends that celebrated Sukkot–I wanted to have one of those little houses in my backyard too!

  25. LA says:

    How is the title of this article not: “Jimmy Fallon interviews Natalie Portman while completely drunk” ?????????

    I couldn’t even watch the video to hear her comments because it was so awful. He is off his ass.

  26. Elian says:

    My husband and I both converted to Judaism and we now live as an observant Jewish family with our two kids. I miss Christmas sometimes, but for me growing up it was 100% a secular holiday. What I have gained spiritually with Judaism is worth giving up having a Christmas tree, and I still get to enjoy everyone else’s decorations!