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Every year, I hear people (typically heterodox or jokers) talking about "Chanukah bushes" (likely a parallel to Christmas trees). Now, beyond the obvious of this not being a traditional practice, would such a thing be chukkat hagoyim, or otherwise forbidden?

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    I suspect that it would be forbidden. – Noach MiFrankfurt Dec 24 '14 at 23:33
  • I edited the question to include (something I assumed to be) part of the basis of your question. If I'm wrong, fix it, by all means. – Shokhet Dec 24 '14 at 23:37
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    The notion of a "Chanukah bush" developed from Jews who adopted the contradictory position of wanting to fully acculturate to American society yet also wanting to maintain a distinct religious and cultural identity. This term was in use by 1879, though many Jewish immigrants were already celebrating the non-Jewish holiday with trees for several decades prior to this. – Fred Dec 25 '14 at 5:23
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The Chochmas Adam 89:1 wrote that the Vilna Gaon abolished the minhag of decorating the synagogue with trees in honor of Shavuos because of the problem of Chukkas HaGoy (i.e. the practice of decorating a tree for the Christian's Holiday). The Chochmas Adam held that such a problem would even justify nullifying a practice mentioned (but not commanded) in the Torah. Certainly it would seem forbidden because of Chukkas HaGoy to establish such a practice in imitation of their custom.

See also:

https://judaism.stackexchange.com/a/1407/899

https://judaism.stackexchange.com/a/30143/899

  • The question of foliage in schul during the shalosh regalim, as an ancient custom, is completely separate from establishing a new practice as seen here. Per my comment above, I would suspect that this particular thing is impermissible, however, this is not to rule on all similar practices. – Noach MiFrankfurt Dec 25 '14 at 1:45
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    Of course, establishing a new practice in imitation is much more problematic which is why the abolishing of a minhag out of concern of the non-Jewish practice the "new one" would imitate is so relevant. – Yirmeyahu Dec 25 '14 at 2:01
  • However, at least in Ashkenaz (the Rheinland) the old custom was maintained as recently as World War II. One of my grandfather's fondest memories of his childhood in Frankfurt was of the schul around Shavuot. Not only was it garlanded with all manner of plants, but it smelled beautiful. In fact, the custom is maintained in Washington Heights (at Breuer's) and from what I've heard, in some Chassidic kehillot. – Noach MiFrankfurt Dec 25 '14 at 3:37
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    Fair enough, but I think that is a discussion of its own. The fact that major poskim, and perhaps the majority of poskim, abolished an otherwise kosher custom because of similarity to the non-Jewish observance is a clear illustration that to actually mimic the practice is chukas hagoy. – Yirmeyahu Dec 25 '14 at 3:46
  • Christmas trees had nothing to do with it. He opposed the compassion to Pentecostal flowers – Double AA Dec 4 '17 at 14:26

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