If you wish to celebrate Christmas or Hanukah publicly, there are dozens of opportunities. If you'd like to observe both holidays on the same occasion, it's more of a challenge.

But it's getting a little easier.

One group that mingles the celebrations is the Handel Festival Orchestra, whose conductor, Stephen Simon, is Jewish. Its executive director, Bonnie Simon (Stephen's wife), is not. The HFO will produce its second Christmas-Hanukah family-style sing-along Sunday at 2:30 in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.

"We came up with the idea," says Bonnie Simon, "because there is no place for people to come together and sing during the holidays. There is a body of holiday music that is typically American, but it has been relegated to the shopping malls."

"Our program is like the community experience of 100 years ago, where people got together to sing carols on the village square," says Stephen Simon.

Another program that mixes Christmas and Hanukah is the annual holiday spectacular at Lake Anne Plaza, held last week in Reston.

Susann Gerstein, a member of Schoreschim, an independent Jewish congregation, is one of its organizers. Music for the event includes local elementary school choirs singing both Christmas and Hanukah songs.

"If Hanukah came at a different time of year, it would probably be celebrated in a much less public way," says Gerstein. "But there is in the two holidays a comparable element of joy that you want to share and demonstrate with your whole community."

Myrna Wahlquist, a public communications specialist for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kensington, also believes in sharing the holidays. The church ambitiously programs an annual Festival of Lights, which includes three concerts every night through December.

"I don't see any conflict in celebrating the two holidays together," says Wahlquist.

"... The Jewish tradition of wonderful music and song coming out of times of adversity relates to the LDS experience, especially the trials and tribulations on the pioneer trail when the travelers would sing and dance to offset the tragedy and to experience the joy."

Church member Kira Davis, who is also a member of King David's Harp, a quartet that performs Jewish music, will perform at the Festival of Lights on Dec. 22 with her children.

"We will be singing and playing Hanukah songs as well as Christmas carols," says Davis. She adds that King David's Harp will also perform the week after Christmas at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History as part of a multicultural offering.

Clark Lobenstine, executive director of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, supports the idea of different cultures celebrating together.

The IFC just performed its 11th annual ecumenical Thanksgiving concert including music from Islamic, Jewish, Christian and Sikh faiths. "We ask each choir to sing the music out of its tradition," says Lobenstine. "It {the concert} represents people of faith working together in a world of violence. Unity in a broken world."

Jim Holloway, music director of the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, says his group calls its December performances "holiday concerts," to include both Christians and Jews.

This year's program will include a movement from Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, sung in Hebrew.

"It is not strictly Hanukah music, but it has an association with that holiday," he says.

The chorus will also sing "Cantique de Noel" and do a playful segment called "Santa's Workshop."

Betty Buchanan, director of the Capitol Hill Choral Society, which puts on two free holiday concerts, says she tries to include selections from both Christian and Jewish backgrounds.

Last year, her choir sang part of the Chichester Psalms. Last weekend it performed three psalms from the Old Testament.

"It isn't really Hanukah music. It is sung in Latin, not Hebrew, but we have a lot of Jewish people who sing with us, so I try to make the concerts as ecumenical as possible," Buchanan says.

Within the Jewish community, there is some objection to mixing the holidays.

Elaine Mann, assistant executive director of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, is uncomfortable with combining the two.

"It diminishes the significance of both," she says. "Hanukah used to be a simple holiday, with family and folk customs, not celebrated in the synagogue. Because of its proximity to Christmas, it has taken on a higher profile. Hanukah is not a Jewish Christmas," Mann points out.

David Shneyer, cantor of Kehila, an independent Jewish congregation in Maryland, and head of the Fabrangen Fiddlers, a Jewish instrumental-vocal group, takes a milder stance. Having participated in interfaith concerts in the past, he considers it a sharing of different faith traditions.

Some upcoming concerts and events:

Holiday Spectacular, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Call for tickets (202-452-1321).

The Festival of Lights, Church of the Latter-day Saints, Kensington. Includes Christmas festivities and concerts every evening through Dec. 31. Concerts at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30. Free.

The Gay Men's Chorus of Washington will hold concerts at 8 p.m. tonight and tomorrow at the Church of the Epiphany, 1317 G St. NW. Prices are $15 a ticket.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History holiday celebration from noon to 4 p.m. from Dec. 26 to Dec. 31 with music, storytelling, holiday-craft demonstrations and foods of Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa and New Year. For more information, 202-357-2700.

On Monday, Anne Sheldon and Margery Maidman present "The Holly and the Candle," a selection of Christmas and Hanukah stories for young and old, at the Georgetown Public Library, Wisconsin and R streets NW, at 7:30 p.m. 301-588-5516.