Hanukkah Vs. Christmas: For Real This Time
On Christmas morning, bright-eyed children hurry to greet a festively decorated tree festooned with colorful ornaments, lights, and presents. Jewish kids do not. Happy Hanukkah.
Thanksgiving has passed, a frosty nip has bitten the air, and Black Friday lives only as a frayed, traumatic memory of feisty commuters hurtling through department stores as if the next day all Old Navys were scheduled to be set ablaze.
With these events gone for another year, the next wave of holiday celebrations is upon us, looming with the force of a level-ten tsunami.
And what is the holiday season without a little tension? Certainly between the mother-in-law and her freshly inherited son who believes the next gold mine is hidden in genitalia body art, yet this time of year ignites a war bigger than that of militant moms and penis tattoos.
Enters Christmas vs. Hanukkah. For as long as the Old Testament, New Testament, and whatever textual variations have spun off along the way, these two religious and culturally iconic holidays have competed for front stage glory.
And each year Hanukkah cheerleaders overlook one essential factor: Christmas ALWAYS wins.
As a non self-loathing Jewess who has served her talmudic time and has an open propensity for gefilte fish, I have no qualms clearing the air on this pointlessly belabored subject once and for all.
Without being cute, let us start at the origins of these ill-matched contenders.
Christmas commemorates the birth of a divine religious leader widely worshipped by one of the largest faiths in the world.
Hannukah commemorates one of the rare times the Jewish people managed not to get totally dessimated by a non-fan, (this time the Greeks). Oh, and as a bonus the Macabees stumbled upon a trick candle that burned for an undoubtedly curious, yet not headliner worthy eight days.
Christmas has given birth to an enormously lucrative subculture, overflowing with holiday hallmark pop songs, budget-less Blockbuster films, holiday themed events and traditions, and of course the glittering, enchanted world of Santa Claus, his rosy cheeked elves, the famous entourage of beloved, magical reindeer and the mystical excitement of the North Pole.
In thousands of years, there has been one pseudo-successful Hanukkah movie that comes to mind, and its creator and star could only bear to remain on the project because the production company conceded to allow him to appear in animated form.
Assuming one can navigate through the thorny, antiquated Yiddish and Hebrew lyrics, traditional Jewish songs drip with weighty depression and are about as catchy as a funeral dirge. If there remains any doubt, now would be a good opportunity to take a moment to recognize that nearly all of the popular Christmas songs have been written by Jewish musicians, antsy to get a cut of the holiday cheer.
On Christmas Eve children lay awake at night, hoping for a glimpse of Chris Cringle’s gold-buckled boot peeking from under the chimney.
On the night before the first day of Hanukkah, children lay awake at night because their parents are arguing over how much aluminum foil is necessary to catch the wax from the candles.
On Christmas morning, bright-eyed children hurry to greet a festively decorated tree festooned with colorful ornaments, lights, and presents. On the first night of Hanukkah, impatient kids hurry through indecipherable, archaic blessings in the sad glow of a rusty antique candelabra, only to receive a savings bond check that cannot be cashed until they turn 89.
Christmas has “The Nutcracker,” the Rockettes, and “A Christmas Carol.”
Hanukkah has dreidels, miniscule chocolate coins that never seem to shed the flavor of their tin foil wrapping, and fried potato pancakes, which by the way are called hash browns and are sold at McDonalds for 99 cents.
And Hanukkah Harry? Please. Even Jews are embarrassed by this flimsy attempt to tango with the great, jolly bearded Santa. No one even knows what this alleged ‘Harry’ character looks like. Does he have any magical powers? Are there sidekicks involved? Does he even wear a costume or does he stroll about in common street clothes?
Hanukkah Harry reeks with shameless desperation, and I believe a collective “Jesus Christ” resounded throughout the Jewish community the moment he came onto the scene.
So I think it is time we all come to terms with the facts. The chosen people must stop insisting on throwing a toy poodle in the ring with a rotweilier. And hey, it could be worse, we could be stuck with Kwanzaa.
What the hell is Kwanzaa anyway?