Religion & Beliefs

The War on Christmas Can’t Stop Hanukkah

Hey everybody, I'm Tamar, your Hanukkah blogger and latke queen. Currently I live in Nashville, where I'm a grad student at Vanderbilt University and do all kinds of work in the Jewish community. Every day I'll have some notes about … Read More

By / December 16, 2006

Hey everybody, I'm Tamar, your Hanukkah blogger and latke queen. Currently I live in Nashville, where I'm a grad student at Vanderbilt University and do all kinds of work in the Jewish community. Every day I'll have some notes about Hanukkah fun and tips for your own celebrations. It's kind of funny that I'm blogging for Hanukkah, because for the past few years I've been trying to get over my Hanukkah-hatred. For years I was all belligerent that Jews celebrated this pseudo-holiday with such gusto because it all just seemed so derivative of Christmas. I felt like Jews had been tricked into celebrating Jesus's life, and that made me crazy. Then, two years ago I heard a dvar Torah by Prof. Ben Sommer of Northwestern Univeristy about how the lulav and etrog that we wave around on Sukkot are derived from pagan rituals. Sukkot is my favorite holiday, and I'd always thought it was so original and different from anything anyone else did, so the dvar pretty much blew my mind. Here's the thing, though: Just because we borrowed some custom from another group or religion doesn't mean we can't make it awesome. And even if the first people to get into the holiday were doing so because they secretly loved Christmas trees- well, so what? YOU don't have to love Christmas trees. So yeah, it still bothers me that everyone thinks that Christmas and Hanukkah have some kind of moral connection, (even though our holiday is about war and strife and how good we were at killing the people who wanted to kill us, and Christmas is about virgin birth) but I'm not letting the War on Christmas get between me and my rockin' Hanukkah cookies. This Hanukkah, put up decorations, sing some songs, eat a donut—and be glad Hanukkah Harry never really caught on.