Hanukkah Is Not Jewish Christmas and Other Holiday Irks

Don’t get me wrong—the holiday season is one of my absolute favorite times of year. After all, any period of time that so heavily emphasizes the importance of twinkling lights and sparkly objects automatically wins my seal of approval. But as the 2011 festivities come to a close, I find myself cringing at some celebratory behaviors that have become way too commonplace. In the spirit of giving (that’s how this season works, right?), I bestow upon you my biggest holiday irks.

1) Hanukkah is not Jewish Christmas.

Okay, you know, I get it. We all just want to make everyone feel included—that’s nice! And as a chosen person, I certainly appreciate the effort so many gentiles put into wishing me a very happy Hanukkah every year. And as someone woefully under-educated in her people’s faith, I definitely have no right schooling others on the meaning of the Festival of Lights. But even with my extremely limited knowledge of the Torah, I believe it’s safe to assure everyone that Hanukkah is not the “other white meat” alternative to Christmas (bad taste to use a pork analogy in this context? No? Okay, great). Yes, both celebrations tend to sit side by side at the holiday table (but not always—Hanukkah will surprise you some years and show up way early, forcing you to improvise the lighting of the menorah with birthday candles), but that doesn’t mean they’re twinsies. And again, I’m totally not authorized to dish out Judaic wisdom, but I’m pretty sure Hanukkah’s not even in our top sacred celebrations (if you want to really impress a Jew, send a basket of hamantashen around March—now that’s thoughtful!). So yes, it’s still really sweet that everyone wants the season to be an equal-opportunity time of merriment for all, but maybe just take a breath next time you wish someone a “merryChristmashappyHanukkahKwanzaaFestivus!” And while we’re at it, Passover’s not our version of Easter either. Glad we cleared that up.

2) You don’t have to toss the tree on December 26.

In Europe, my parents always had holiday trees growing up. Again, neither one commemorated Jesus’s b-day, but it was just a normal part of the culture to celebrate the season with a little bejeweled pine. Here in the U.S. of A, Christmas trees (also, we don’t have to pretend they’re “Hanukkah bushes”—we can call them by their common names, it’s okay) seem to have a strict expiration date: 12:01 am, December 26. Nothing breaks my heart quite like seeing a stripped, abandoned shrub tossed out in the street once its duty as a gift guardian has been done. Why not let the poor thing breathe a bit? Let him sit and stay a spell and ring in the new year? Must there be an immediate termination to all ornamental foliage the minute Christmas is over? I mean sure, if I had it my way, all flora and fauna would be festooned in tinsel and rhinestones year-round, but there has to be a happy medium. Can we at least agree to halt the de-greening of our living rooms until some time in January?

3) New Year’s Eve means nothing.

For a long time, I bought into the notion that whatever happened on December 31 would determine the outcome of the forthcoming year. Period, end of story. The problem was, every New Year’s Eve, well, sucked. That’s because NYE is what we call a “high-pressure holiday.” Nothing guarantees disappointment like the burden of mandatory fun. In some ways, even the Hallmark-iest of holidays, Valentine’s Day, is less stressful than New Year’s Eve. At least on V-Day, you have the option of laying low, watching horrendous movies with friends, or buying out your local drugstore’s entire supply of Twilight-themed cards and candies (What? They could be collector’s items one day!). People frown upon that sort of behavior on New Year’s Eve (okay, or ever). The idea that you better be out, freezing your butt off and smiling like you’re having the time of your life seriously turns me off. I do enjoy the night’s anything-goes attitude towards body glitter, though.

Image via Long Island Press

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