Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas, Hannukah Holidays Explained

Our longtime friend Stu Bykofsky has a great column in today's Philadelphia Daily News. Here's part of it:

Ask the average Jew when Hanukkah comes next year, he will tell you, "I'll go look at the calendar." Ask the average Christian when Christmas falls next year, she will say, "Dec. 25th, d'uh!"
Like clockwork, Christmas is always December 25. Score one for the Christians.
Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is a party for eight nights. Score one for the Jews.
Hanukkah was unusually early this year, starting Dec. 3. Hanukkah and Christmas usually are closer and the proximity explains why American Jews upgraded their Festival of Lights.
They pumped up the volume, bought into decorations and gift-giving (alas, most gifts are "practical") but stopped short of putting a yarmulke on old St. Nick and re-branding him Santa Klutz.
Confusion reigns not only over the date on which it falls each year, but even how to spell it: Chanukkah, Chanukah, Hanukah, Hanukkah, etc. For Christians it's either Christmas or the short-hand Xmas (which everyone knows is improper).
Christmas celebrates a birth, Hanukkah celebrates a victory, which a few Jewish holidays do. (Jewish "victory" usually means spoiling their enemies' plans to destroy them. Israel's still doing it.)
Most American Jews like Christmas because they get the day off, they have movie theaters to themselves and eat in Chinese restaurants with so many Jews it seems like a deli.
While the big deal is timing, there are other intersections between Hanukkah and Christmas. Here is a brief list compiled from a variety of sources and research techniques (i.e., the Internet.):
* Christmas has been commercialized. Ditto Hanukkah, but there's a limit to how much you can spend on candles made in China.
* Christmas brings jewelry, fur coats, TVs, perfume, sporting goods, even cars. Major stuff. Hanukkah brings scarves, towels, maybe a Dirt Devil or (how I hated this) handkerchiefs and socks for school. Minor stuff.
* Christmas carols are lyrical and beautiful. Hanukkah songs are about spinning tops made of clay (really plastic or wood) or dancing the hora, which is more dangerous than a Segway. (The beloved "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" was written by Jewish Irving Berlin, who did not write "I'm Dreaming of a White Hanukkah" because he knew which side his matzoh was buttered on).
Click here to read the entire column.

No comments: