smofbabe: (platy)
[personal profile] smofbabe
My annual winter holiday rant, which might be less necessary this year because of all the publicity about the first night of Chanukah coinciding with Thanksgiving.

I wish I could fit the following policy statement on a button that I could wear for the entire month of December:
"Chanukah is not the Jewish Christmas. Chanukah has nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas except that they both fall at approximately the same time of year.

"I know you're trying to include me and not make me feel left out by saying "Merry Christmas or Happy Chanukah," or by including one Chanukah song (usually the obnoxious "I Had a Little Dreidel") in a school's assembly, or by calling the tree that the company puts up in the lobby of all of our buildings a "holiday tree." Instead, you're just aggravating me (especially when you say "Merry Christmas, and a happy Chanukah to all our Jewish friends" when Chanukah is already over). I don't feel left out at all. It's your holiday and this is essentially a Christian country. Have a good time! Celebrate Christmas all you want! Call a Christmas tree a Christmas tree! Just leave my holiday out of it."

I'm well aware that the majority of people in the U.S. celebrate Christmas, and that many do so not because it's a Christian holiday but because it's fun and the lights are pretty and giving and getting presents makes them happy. Nice try, but that does not make Christmas a secular holiday that I want linked to my religion's holiday just because it happens to occur at the same time of year. (Listen closely to the words of most Christmas carols and then try to use the word "secular" again with a straight face.) If people want a secular winter holiday with trees, lights, and presents, I wish they'd change the name but I realize that ship has pretty much sailed.

Chanukah is a minor post-Biblical Jewish holiday commemorating a military victory and a supposed concomitant miracle. Weirdly, it's now the Jewish holiday whose name is most known to Christians, who assume that it is much more important than it is. The best analogy I heard was years ago, when a rabbi gave a sermon imagining that a group of Christians moved to a country where the predominant religion had a major holiday in February. To make the Christians feel better, the citizens decided to make a big deal out of Valentines Day. Thanks, but no thanks.

So much for my rant to Christians. Now for my rant to Jews.

When I was young, Chanukah was a holiday for kids -- to keep them interested for all 8 nights of the holiday, parents gave them little presents each night. Adults never gave each other presents, and no one exchanged cards. Now, Chanukah appears to be going the secular way of Christmas. Jews who can't quite bring themselves to have a Christmas tree still get into mailing out fancy cards and giving each other expensive gifts. And some Jews do have a Christmas tree -- many justifying it by saying that Christmas is now a secular holiday and they just like the look of the tree and the lights. My answer to them is: if you like having a decorated tree and lights on your house and you're not doing it to celebrate Christmas, do it in June.

If you celebrate a holiday at this time of year, I hope you have a wonderful time!
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