Happy Chanukah

December 15, 2006

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah. Light those candles. Spin that dreidl. Eat those latkes. Dance the hora. Spell the name of the holiday like five hundred different ways. Say “oy!” a lot. All in good fun.

What is Chanukah about? I have no idea. Something about long lasting candles. Something about a temple celebration. Its close proximity to Christmas has led some to believe it is a high Jewish holiday like Christmas is a high Christian one. But it really isn’t. Passover and Yom Kippur are more the high holidays. Chanukah is just sort of there.

Funny thing. Christmas is accused of absorbing like every single December celebration like a festive sponge it is. But it seems to have not absorbed anything from Chanukah. In fact, as it seems, looks like Chanukah is the one absorbing stuff from Christmas!

May as well run with it. I think I’ll celebrate Chanukah this year. I do not have a single drop of Jewish blood in me. Still a semite, though, being part Arab. Yup. Jews and Arabs are both semites. Hate each other, but same family. Although there is nothing unusual about two members of the same family hating each other. Why, I’ve often equated Israel and Palestine with a pair of disagreable identical twins. But I digress.

Add Chanukah to the big festive Christmas sponge. I think I’ll change it around a bit. Chanukah is now a Christmas related celebration. It’ll have set dates now. I think I’ll run it from December 12 to December 20. Its meaning? Joseph and Mary celebrated it on their way to Bethlehem to deliver Jesus. They lit a nine-pronged candelabra each of the eight nights, and each day they got a new present for the baby. They spun a dreidl a lot, too. Whatever.

Okay, okay, quit your hate mail. I’m messing with you. I won’t steal Chanukah like that. Although, not sure I’d be stealing it, per se. Recall the Yule Gripe a little while ago? Same deal. 😉

Seems to be the Christmas thing. The gathering of all religions and cultures meshed into the one holiday. Togetherness. Joy surpassing the ideological barriers. Now there’s the reason for the season! Or at least it is now.

Of course, I do have a bit of a beef here. Yeah, Chanukah has avoided the Christmas sponge more or less, but what I’m sick of are the Jews who get all high and mighty about that. “Oh, noes, Christmas is ruined and lost its way, but at least Chanukah is retaining its true meaning!” Uh huh. Whatever.

In fact, yeah, something like that makes me want to celebrate Chanukah. Not because I want to be Jewish. I just want to be a non-Jew celebrating a Jewish holiday. If some of you will be all high and mighty about purity, then maybe I will celebrate Chanukah and call it a side celebration associated with Christmas. Hell, it’s becoming that way so much anyway, might as well do something with it.

But it all comes down to what I was talking about yesterday again. We have these Christians whining that Christmas isn’t being acknowledged enough, but they forget that how anyone else spends Christmas is not their concern. What matters is how they themselves celebrate it. Well, same with Chanukah. Yeah, I understand some of the Jews not wanting the holiday to be blown way away from what it is actually about, like some of them may believe has happened to Christmas (which I’ll talk about on a later day). But, just like with Christmas, what matters is how YOU celebrate Chanukah. If one Jewish family wants to celebrate it like the commercialized sidekick to Christmas you fear it’ll be, well, that’s their business and their right. You can celebrate it your way and they’ll celebrate it their way. You are no different from anybody else.


2 thoughts on “Happy Chanukah”

  1. The basic Chanukah story: Sometime after the death of Alexander the Great, who died rather young and without offspring, the land of Israel fell into the hands of a tyrant who, unlike Alexander the Great, didn’t believe in religious freedom and attempted to suppress Judaism. The Jews fought back, and won. The eight days and the menorah symbolize the alleged miracle that followed the victory: When the Temple was to be rededicated, there was only enough oil to light the lamps for one day, but it burned for eight.

    Or at least that’s how I remember it from Hebrew school.

    As for the interaction of Chanukah with Christmas, it seems to me that modern American Chanukah is, as much as anything else, about giving Jewish kids presents so that they shouldn’t be jealous of the Christian kids’ presents. Still, the fact that it is a celebration of religious freedom is generally remembered.

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