Monday, December 26, 2011

Monday Laugh - Christmukkah

Dear readers, I've been totally remiss this holiday season in barely talking about Hanukkah.  We all know that I'm a bad Jew regardless, but besides that I do have a decent reason for having focused on Christmas in regards to my lifestyle: basically, Hanukkah is a relatively minor celebration and doesn't even appear in the Torah.  It has essentially gained prominence in order to compete with or provide an alternative to Christmas for those who don't believe in the New Testament.  Hanukkah is all about community and identity, celebrating the Jewish victory over the Greek oppressors who tried to force them to betray their religion, and although I don't feel part of a Jewish community here in London I do still absolutely identify personally as Jewish.  I have been lighting the candles each night and saying the appropriate blessings, even here in Suffolk with Jon's family for Christmas, and I remember every day that, in some parts of the world, not everyone has the freedom to safely believe in his/her religion.

On a lighter note, though, I recently found Jonathan Safran Foer's "A Beginner's Guide to Hanukkah" in the archives of the New York Times - here's my favorite bit:

There is a certain kind of Jew who, despite knowing that Christmas isn't his holiday and that it would severely distress his relatives (particularly the dead ones) if he acknowledged feelings of Christmas Envy, much less acted on them, gets a Christmas tree anyway.  And does the leaving-a-cookie-out-for-Santa thing.  And the sweaters and the nog.  But of course he never lets any of it interfere with the Hanukkah celebrations, whatever they are.  And you have to admit, "Silent Night" is a seriously beautiful song.  Then one day this twice-a-year Jew who is a once-a-year Christian walks in on his children talking about Baby Jesus.  So he sends them to Hebrew School where, over time, they learn Christmas Envy.  And the cycle repeats itself.

Sigh - so true.  This Jewpiscopalian has been singing carols from the Hymnal 1982 all over London for the past few weeks (the trick is to wait to break into the descants on the tube platform until the train approaches so the sound muffles your voice and you don't totally freak out your fellow commuters) and wants to buy a glue gun only because of the DIY decorations that she is desperate to make next year (I've got my eye on ornament wreaths but, really, the possibilities are endless) and knows the nativity story from each of the gospels better than most official Christians (actually, it only appears in Matthew and Luke, who agree on hardly any of the details) and, generally, is conflicted.  But - boy, is she having a good time!

(If you're still confused about Hanukkah, check out these painfully funny FAQs that I found through Wendy.)


  1. One of my favorites of yours, Betsy! Hilarious and brainy and human. Happy Holidays from your friend over here with London Envy.

  2. This post completely rocks - i found your blog through fridays fancies and i was looking around and found this post- LOVE IT! i'm jewish and live with my catholic boyfriend and go through the whole christamas envy each year- luckily since we live together i can justify decorating for both holidays! following your blog now- love it!


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