Religion & Beliefs

A Jew’s Defense of Christmas

Another holiday season has arrived and, to tell you the truth, I’m not too thrilled. Why, you ask? Simple. I’m Jewish. Most of the year I’m perfectly happy to be a card-carrying member of "The Chosen Ones" – we have … Read More

By / December 15, 2009

Another holiday season has arrived and, to tell you the truth, I’m not too thrilled. Why, you ask? Simple. I’m Jewish. Most of the year I’m perfectly happy to be a card-carrying member of "The Chosen Ones" – we have everyone from Mel Brooks to Ben Stiller on our team – but this is the one time of year when I wish I were Christian. Why? Because, compared to Christmas, Hanukkah, which starts tonight, just doesn’t "hold a candle." It’s like Christmas is the pretty, popular, prom-queen and Hanukkah is her nerdy, friendless, can’t-get-a-boyfriend-because-her-nose-always-runs little sister.

To illustrate my point, I’ve come up with a few comparisons of both holidays. For starters, when was the last time you were at Macy’s for the Day After Hanukkah Sale? That’s what I thought. Here goes:

Rituals Christmas has its very own tree: The majestic Evergreen. Proudly displayed as an elegant addition to any living room, the fragrant tree is strewn with multi-colored lights, glittering tinsel, candy, and collectible ornaments, then finished with a shining star or winged angel. Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, has The Menorah. After lighting the candles, there’s a good chance you’ll wake the next morning to find eight little piles of dried wax covering your countertop or dripping down into your stove’s burners.

Traditions Christmas has mistletoe: How great a tradition is this? You get to plant one on your hot cousin from Pittsburgh! Hanukkah has no similar tradition, so I propose we Jews hang a piece of Gefilte fish from the ceiling in order to achieve similar results (remember to take it down right after the party or you’ll need to move).

Food The centerpiece of a Christmas dinner is usually a lovely, juicy, honeybaked ham or freshly-basted turkey, served piping hot from the oven. The centerpiece of a Hanukkah dinner is the latke. McDonald’s serves them every day with Egg McMuffins.

Drinks Christmas has Egg Nog. It’s Saint Nick’s version of Red Bull – a sweet, creamy, sugar rush combined with an alcohol buzz. Need I say more? Hanukkah has Manischewitz. Need I say more?

Songs On Christmas, you can sing along with gems like "White Christmas," "The Christmas Song," "Silver Bells," and "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer." Songs written by Jews who were obviously so enamored with what the other holiday had to offer they switched sides. On Hanukkah, we get to sing "Dreidel" while spinning a plastic top for fun. Please. I’d rather watch a "Jon and Kate" marathon with electrodes strapped to my nether regions.

Programming Christmas has all those great CBS classics – "Frosty the Snowman," "Rudolph," "Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town," etc. Hanukkah is so boring it doesn’t even qualify for it’s own claymation special. Is it too much to ask for "A Charlie Brown Hanukkah?" We could show it on the Food Network. Treats Christmas has the Candy Cane – a beautiful, multi-colored, striped confection which leaves your breath nice and minty for the all-important office party mistletoe. Then, there’s the ever-popular Hanukkah Gelt – These thin, round, pieces of chocolate "coins" are sold in fishing nets (I imagine to honor history’s great Jewish Bassmasters). Just what we need. Money that melts.

Spelling Lastly, is it too much to ask of my people that we agree on one, single, universal spelling of our second-class holiday? Hanukah, Hanukkah, Chanukah? Can we take a vote or something? Don’t get me wrong. There are lots of benefits to being a Jew: We control the media, the World Bank, and we make a mean pastrami sandwich. But when December rolls around, some of us "Chosen Ones" would like to feel a little "Goy Pride," too. Happy Holidays everyone.