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So let me start out with a disclaimer, in the spirit of fair warning.  This is a rant, and as such will probably sound less forgiving of other points of view than I generally am.  Most particularly as follows:

If you are by philosophy and choice a religious syncretist, one who constructs their own religious tradition by deliberately enfolding and including multiple sources, I can and will respect that.  But a lot of what I'm about to say is going to sound pretty anti-syncretist, especially towards the end, and especially if your two sources are Christianity and Judaism.  I can't really apologize for that, only ask you to please believe that I don't intend it as an attack.

Here's the deal: I've been fighting the War On Christmas all my life.

I wrote the original version of this back in 2007.  You can see it here if you're interested, but most of it is reproduced and considerably expanded below.

Follow me, if you will, over the orange sugarplum.

NOT YOURS

I grew up Orthodox Jewish in Seattle in the 1980s, in what at the time was a fairly small Jewish community.  My parents both taught at the more traditional of the two Jewish private schools, which my siblings and I attended.  It was Orthodox in practice and philosophy, if not necessarily in population; I knew, for instance, that many of my schoolmates didn't keep a kosher home.  My nearest Jewish neighbors were about a quarter of a mile away.

If you didn't grow up similarly, then I don't know if I can explain the sense of not truly being part of the world you live in.  How chance words and phrases on TV or the radio are constant reminders of your otherness -- words like church or Jesus, sure, but also words like McDonalds or marshmallows or Saturday morning cartoons.  Or the names of all the characters in the books you read, none of them sounding anything like yours or your friends'.  It's not something you think about a lot; it's just always there.

And as you've probably noticed even if you don't have the automatic otherness association:  this time of year, Christmas gets everywhere.  Its associations are so strong and so pervasive that it becomes impossible to separate Christmasness from the sound of tinkling bells, or the colors red and green in combination, or candy canes, or pine trees, or reindeer, or mistletoe, or Victorian winter garb, or holly, or gingerbread, or log fires, or snowflakes.  And those images are on everything mass-produced.

One month of the year when absolutely everything says NOT YOURS.

And I do mean impossible.  Later I went to a Jewish high school in New York; once I wore a sweater with snowflakes on it -- blue and white snowflakes, mind you -- and I was asked why I was wearing a Christmas sweater.  My sister was asked the same when she wore a sweater with a pine-tree-and-snowy-mountain pattern.  These were Jewish kids asking us, from a subcommunity so insular that about half of my classmates there didn't own a television, and their immediate association with those images was still to do with Christmas.

Back in grade school in Seattle, though ... I remember envying the houses that had Christmas lights, and simultaneously being vehemently sure I didn't want to have them on our house.  I remember saying to my big brother, very proud of my preadolescent cynicism, that we would never see a "Happy Hannukah, Charlie Brown" TV special.  I remember being delighted on seeing a rare station break wishing viewers a happy Hannukah, even if they didn't spell it right, or a menorah-and-dreidel decoration at the grocery store, even if it looked a little pathetic next to the real decorations.

If it had come out only a few years sooner, Adam Sandler's song would have delighted me even more.  When you feel like the only kid in town without a Christmas tree / Here's a list of people who are Jewish, just like you and me...

.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS (YEAH YOURS TOO I GUESS)

But here's the thing.

I don't know whether it's the fact that I now live in New York City, a town that's got more Jews than Jerusalem.  Or the fact that I spent two years living in Jerusalem itself, a place where December 25th can come and go entirely unnoticed by most of the population.  Or the fact that it's 2012, not 1985, and things have changed.  Or the fact that I'm twenty-some years older.

But the acknowledgement of Hannukah around Christmastime has become obligatory, and sometimes I don't know that I like it much better than the ignoring of it.

Part of it is that frequently it's perfunctory, an afterthought, and usually a cheap afterthought at that.  In the lobby of the building where I worked, back in 2007 when I wrote the first version of this, there was a gorgeous tall evergreen tree decorated in red and gold, with tiny ornamental giftwrapped boxes and gilded pinecones and glossy spheres and strings of tiny lights.  And three wreaths, similarly decorated.  And potted poinsettias, red and white.  And a grand piano moved in for the occasion, with a live pianist at certain hours and a sign above it saying that the holiday music had been sponsored by some company or other.  And ... a plug-in menorah in white and blue plastic sitting on the front desk.  Sing it with me, kids:  one of these things is not like the others.

But here and there I've seen attempts to make the Chanukah decorations as rich and lavish as the Christmas ones.  The lobby of the building where I work now has a similar gorgeous tree-and-lights display, accompanied by a gilded and intricately patterned plug-in menorah taller than I am.  I recall one year when Macy's housewares department had elaborate festive tables set with fine china and silver, done up in Christmas colors -- and off in the corner, one similarly elaborate table done up in blue and white.

And ... it doesn't work.  It's overdone to the point of being laughable.  Because Chanukah is not that major a holiday.

Chanukah is not what we have instead of Christmas.  Seriously.  It's not anything like that big a deal.  It isn't Biblically mandated, and it isn't a day on which working is prohibited, and there are no prayers about the holiness of the day, and if we get together for a festive meal it isn't because the holiday requires it; it's pretty much just because we feel like it.  It is not the kind of holiday where you break out the good china.

And there's the real core of the irritation right there:  you* don't know a goddamn thing about my holiday.  The only reason you're acknowledging it at all is because it comes at the same time as your major holiday.  I didn't hear a Happy Sukkot from you back in September and I'm not going to hear a Happy Shavuot from you in June, and if I hear a Happy Passover from you in April it'll only be because it's roughly at the same time as Easter, but you're going to be flying that Happy Hannukah banner all December even after Chanukah's over.  Because what you're really saying is Merry Christmas.  You're just changing the words.

* I do not, of course, mean here "you who are reading this now."

And -- okay, I do appreciate that they're changing the words.  I do.  Because it means recognizing that not everybody in the world is Christian, that not everybody in the world celebrates the same holidays, and (importantly) that it's okay that not everybody in the world is and does.  And that's a crucial thing to recognize, and I'm glad of it.  Even if it's a perfunctory afterthought, it's still a good one to have, and it's still better than not having it at all.

.
CHRISMUKKAH

But sometimes that runs into the other side of the discomfort, which has to do with taking that recognition too far in the other direction and reaching an attitude of all-embracing inclusiveness.  An approach that wants to tell us that there's no real difference between our holidays.  We use different words, but really we all mean the same thing:  it's about light and warmth against the winter's dark and cold, and song against the winter's silence, and family, and togetherness, and love.  And those are the things we all share, regardless of what we call ourselves, and in the face of that our differences aren't important at all, and we can all be united in celebration of our shared light and joy.  And that's a beautiful thought, isn't it?

... well, yes.  It is.  It really is.

Except that that's not what Chanukah is about at all.

Except that what Chanukah commemorates is the Jewish people's successful resistance against the Syrian-Greeks and their attempt to absorb us into their religious and secular culture, first by welcome and then by legislation and then by force of arms.  It's about the time we fought a war for the right to study our Torah and practice our laws and throw their gods the hell out of our Temple.  The right to say to the dominant culture:  we are separate, we are distinct, we are other, and you will not force us to become like yourselves.

And -- okay, so maybe for a lot of people Christmas isn't about the birth of Jesus.  And maybe for a lot of people Chanukah isn't about the victory against assimilation.  And we commemorate our different holidays in similar ways because we're all human, and we all have the basic human urge to make noise and light fires in the depth of winter when it's cold and dark, and when we were first establishing our holiday traditions we did what seemed appropriate.  And I guess for those to whom the holiday is just about light and warmth and family and song, there really isn't any significant difference between them.

But still ... really?  This holiday?  This one?  The poster holiday for anti-assimilation is the one that's going to be constantly identified with the big goyish holiday that happens to come at the same time of year?  And not just identified with as ~the Jewish alternative~, but actively combined with, in half a million cute little greeting-card images, as just one half (or even smaller part) of a multicultural mashup that is still and always dominated by Christmas?

It's ironic; bitterly so, sometimes.

.
IN WHICH I GRATUITOUSLY QUOTE WALT WHITMAN

So do I contradict myself here?  I start out by talking about how distancing and demoralizing it can be to feel like you're not part of the culture you live in, and I just finished by vehemently defending our right to hold ourselves apart from the culture we live in.  So what is it you want, Batya?  Do you want to be separate and other or embraced and included?

I think what I really want is a third option: to be acknowledged, and ideally not as a half-assed afterthought.  I want the country I live in to make itself continually aware that it contains me and others like me, and others still who are neither like me nor like the dominant majority, and to accept that that's not a threat to anybody.  I want it to be understood that celebrating Christmas is not somehow more American than not celebrating Christmas, regardless of whether one is celebrating something else instead or nothing at all.  I want my holidays recognized as significant in themselves, not as poorly grasped faux parallels to more popular holidays.

I want us to be able to appreciate each other's differences without trying to handwave them away.  This country is big enough and old enough to deal with that level of complex thought, in all its seeming contradictions.  We are large; we contain multitudes.

... aaaand more pettily perhaps, I want Christmas to back off of the winter imagery and leave some of it for the rest of us.

Seriously, you guys.  Blue and white snowflakes.

Originally posted to Batya the Toon on Tue Dec 25, 2012 at 07:53 AM PST.

Also republished by Spiritual Organization of Unapologetic Liberals at Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Very thoughtful (5+ / 0-)

    If it helps any, I want to feel valued and acknowledged, too.  And I DO belong to the privileged, white, Christian raised majority.  I don't feel any more welcome or beloved. We're ALL other.
    Peace, brother. And sister. And everyone else.

  •  interesting rant. I agree and disagree, I think. (10+ / 0-)

    I've always taken pride in the notion that the Jewish community is small (even though we're certainly influential, and in many areas (like Montgomery County, MD--we're actually not THAT much of a minority).  And I've always taken pride in the difference--it gives me a chance to talk about Judaism to people.  I've always appreciated the small gestures--a menorah in the town square, a Happy Hannukah message from Channel 4 news.  Sometimes it's for show, sure--but sometimes it's thoughtful.

    Unlike some other posters on DKos, I've never minded that we live in a predominantly Christian (culturally) society--and until the fundamentalist right tried to shove that down everyone's throats starting in the 80s or so, I've never resented anything 'Christian' at all.  I play carols on the piano, love everyone else's lights (although I get furious at people who put up 'Hanukkah bushes'--I see them as sellouts :)

    The commercialization of the holidays has now gone far beyond the point of insanity--and in that respect the whole Chrismukkah nonsense (Hanukkah aisles at the grocery store) is foolish--although it IS nice to be able to easily buy a dreidel if I want one.  

    But to be honest--I kind of like being recognized as a small ethno-religious community in a larger cultural milieu.  A few menorahs against a sea of Christmas lights--but with each accepting of the others traditions and beliefs.

    •  Agree and disagree, yup. (9+ / 0-)

      What's the old saying?  Two Jews, three opinions?  :)

      I kind of like being recognized as a small ethno-religious community in a larger cultural milieu.
      There's definitely an appeal to it.  And I also love getting the chance to talk about Judaism to people -- though it helps if I get the sense that they're genuinely interested.

      This is one of the things I love about being part of science fiction fandom.  Fannish types are almost always genuinely interested, as Jewish tradition can very easily be seen as both an alien culture and a gaming ruleset.

  •  Amen, my sister (6+ / 0-)

    Proving that Jewishness is a lot more than skin deep. I grew up in the most secular Reform Jewish household you can imagine -- my parents joined a Reform congregation because they thought it would be good for me, age 8 -- and yet if you remove all the specific Orthodox material from this I could have written it myself.

    Acknowledged, exactly. Thank you!

    -7.75, -8.10; Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Dave in Northridge on Tue Dec 25, 2012 at 09:01:32 AM PST

  •  I appreciate your perspective but I don't see (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    misslegalbeagle, Wee Mama, Chi

    it as a problem if some people want to blend into the society. They have the right to determine what type of Judaism they are comfortable with.

  •  I certainly relate and sympathize. (9+ / 0-)

    The Christmasification of Chanukah (and, to a lesser degree, other Jewish holidays) is pretty revolting. I get that those sad little plug-in menorahs (a concept that makes my head hurt) and alternating every eleventh Christmas carol with some laughably bad "Chanukah" song (Chanukah songs? really?), but I think I prefer the days of my childhood, when our holidays were just ignored altogether. When people ask if I've decorated for Chanukah yet, I sort of want to vomit. Decorating for Chanukah? Huh? I get that the question is intended to be thoughtful, but thanks to retailers who've tried to make sure we get in on those glorious electronics deals too, even our "enlightened" friends are under the impression that we have Jewish versions of their holidays. Jewish Christmas. Jewish Easter. Ugh. We can all buy shit together now!

    And there's the "explaining" of Christmas, how it isn't really religious, how Jews can do it too because it's really just about family and 'tis the season and yadda yadda. (And one of my all-time favorites: Non-Jewish friends mentioning that one Jewish family they know who celebrates Christmas, so therefore, we all should, it's no big deal, and Jews who don't want to get in on Christmas are just being stubborn or bah-humbuggy or something.)

    All of that said, I'm happy to have the day off of work and look forward to movies and Chinese with my mom later today. :)

    •  "explaining" of Christmas (8+ / 0-)

      Word.

      (Should there be a special snarky term for that?  ... although the first one to come to mind is "goysplaining", which strikes me as a deeply unfortunate choice.  Igh.)

      Enjoy movies and Chinese!  :D

      •  Not Jewish, also (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama, dirkster42, mayim

        not Christian or Islamic.  Our major symbol for this time of year is the cornucopia - yeah, people think we still celebrate Thanksgiving and feel obligated to splain to us that we're doing it wrong.

        I completely empathize, and honestly, we've taken many of the coping mechanisms that the Jews developed over the centuries to emulate as we make our way in the world.

        It is rather ironic that a celebration of having avoided assimilation should be borged into Christmas.

        All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

        by Noddy on Tue Dec 25, 2012 at 10:17:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I went to kindergarten in Ft. Collins, CO in 1979 (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dirkster42, penguins4peace, mayim

      I was the only Jew (to my knowledge) not only in my class, but in the SCHOOL.  My mom came in one day to read the Hanukkah story to the class and we brought latkes.  I can even picture the book.

      In Montgomery County, MD, though, I grew up with the odd Hanukkah song amongst the Christmas songs at holiday school plays, and our town has had a menorah for as long as I can remember.  It always struck me as a nice shout-out.  Just like when NBC 4 says 'Happy Passover!' during the Eastern season.  I never saw it as obnoxious until the proliferation of mass-market nonsense more recently--Black Friday is the real Christmas and all that--and Starbucks has Christmas music before Halloween it seems...

      I haven't encountered too much of the 'explaining' you're talking about in teh last paragraph, but that would infuriate me in the same way that Jews for Jesus does.  As I mentioned in a comment above, I get REALLY pissed off when I hear about 'Hanukkah bushes' and what-not...

    •  I kind of got the impression that the more overt (4+ / 0-)

      acknowledgements of Chanukah, like saying "Happy Chanukah" decorations in stores, etc., came after Jewish people in the U.S. started talking about how they felt excluded at this time of year.  I guess, some Christians who did not want anyone to feel excluded started promoting other religions, especially Chanukah. In doing so (without knowing the true history) it may come off a little patronizing, and it leads to ridiculous contortions such as never actually saying the word Christmas anymore, even though everything is decorated in red & green, and there's pine & holly everywhere and Santa is flying a sleigh. It's really a pity because I think that Christmas is a beautiful time of year when people used to feel encouraged to think about peace and the welfare of others.  I'm not Jewish but one of the aspects of Chanukah I'd always admired was that it was a more quiet & contemplative holiday which was spread out over many days & that allowed people to really focus on its history and meaning. So, when menorahs started taking steroids, that was really disquieting to me. But, whatever...

    •  My mom loves to sing and play records (0+ / 0-)

      with Hanukkah songs, as she does on most of the Jewish holidays. Kids like them too, and that's one way she  has of trying to ensure her granddaughter (my niece) has a connection to Judaism and Jewish culture. Personally, I find most holiday songs boring, particularly the more modern ones, but I like other Jewish music somewhat.

      "I have more than two prablems" - The Coach Z

      by AaronInSanDiego on Tue Dec 25, 2012 at 07:08:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  An enjoyable bah! humbug read... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    indubitably, a2nite, penguins4peace, mayim

    ...You would (heh-heh) blend well with the Puritans. They thought celebrating Christmas was sinful, a syncretic blasphemy with paganism. Oliver Cromwell REALLY had a war on Christmas, banning the celebration altogether in 1644. No stores could be closed on Dec. 25 (which would, I suppose, made Wal-Mart happy), and anyone caught celebrating Christmas was fined.

    Christmas celebrations reappeared in England in 1660, not long after Cromwell died. Yet, up until 1847, no New England college observed a Christmas holiday.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Tue Dec 25, 2012 at 01:29:31 PM PST

  •  I only celebrate Christmas (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, a2nite

    perfunctorily.

    My family hated Christmas. My father was the original bah humbug! and so far ahead of his time, I realize now, always huffing and puffing about commercialization and consumerism. My mother would get slightly annoyed if I got her a present. Any other time of the year, she delighted in my quirky gifts. At Christmas, though? No.

    I've been thinking about this since yesterday---for a few weeks, in fact, after having gone through the ordeal of Christmas at my job. The only Jewish person in our offices fled several weeks ago, and I wish I could have been right behind her. But, no, it was two weeks of excited present buying and trees and cards and all that, until I finally admitted to a co-worker that our family just never really celebrated it.

    My sister raised her kids without it until she caved to pressure and finally bought a tree and presents one year.

    I remember feeling a lot of shame as a child because we stuck out so much, esp. the years I spent in a Catholic school where hundreds of people would descend on a single house to celebrate.

    I remember spending one Christmas week in a house like that. It's the only real Christmas American style I ever had, I think.

    I used to pretend otherwise about all this, but truth is, Christmas? Bleh.

    I dunno, I appreciate having a day with nothing really going on, and I appreciate the concept of celebrating winter's end, and etc., but the rest of it ... bleh. And bleh again.

    I'm very glad to read about Hanukkah, btw. I never could quite put two and two together about them.

    Good diary.

  •  One thing I'm wondering is (0+ / 0-)

    how do you spell it wrong? There is more than one standard way to romanize Hebrew, and people often don't follow them anyway.

    "I have more than two prablems" - The Coach Z

    by AaronInSanDiego on Tue Dec 25, 2012 at 07:00:24 PM PST

    •  Yeah, you can't really spell it wrong in English. (0+ / 0-)

      But small Batya grew up with the "Chanukah" spelling and was irked by the "Hannukah" variations, on account of how they reflect the commonest mispronunciation of the holiday's name (which is really understandable, because it is hard to pronounce the ch-sound if you didn't grow up with a language that has it).

  •  This Christmas I asked for, and received, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    indubitably

    a book by one of my favorite Christian authors, Brian McLaren, entitled "Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?" (It's been out for just a few months, since Sept 2012.)

    In it, he asks many of the same questions you have. How can "we" (whatever religion we happen to be) simultaneously be passionate and committed to our religious beliefs without being hostile to others? Does being a good "Christian" (or Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, etc) mean you need to run around trying to "convert" all who don't adhere to your beliefs?

    Can different religions retain a strong religious identity, yet stand with those of other religions in friendship and solidarity, without having all religious beliefs and traditions dissolve into a sort of formless, blandly intracultural, syncretistic (and invariably highly commercialized) mush? How can we avoid, as you put it, falling into the Chrismukkah trap?

    They're all good questions. I just started reading the book, so I don't yet know his answers. But I'm hopeful. Definitely something for further discussion! :)

  •  Kvetch, Kvetch, Kvetch. . . (0+ / 0-)

    Please, as a nominal Christian often mistaken for being Jewish, I implore you to do a wee bit a research on the Christmas holiday and its history. You will soon discover that it is: Not Christian, name not withstanding. Not as it was even a century or two ago. Not practiced by the radical whack job Protestants who started this country, and not just a little Jewish in outlook and values as it is practiced today. No, not commercial or material values, but Jewish in the ideals of Family, Children, Traditions, and Community. Those ideals were NOT part of Christmas as it was practiced for most of its history. That came to be with a lot of input from among others, Jewish artists and producers of culture.
    After you bother to take a peek at Christmas' amalgamated past, I hope you will come to the conclusion that it wasn't the Holiday that made you feel separate and distinct. It was the people around you who did Christmas that made you feel that way. They did and do the same thing to Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Atheists . . .anyone who is the Other as long as there are enough of them.
    As for your Judaism being usurped by the American culture. That's just an occupational hazard of being an American. Does that mean you have to give in? No. Not at all. It's up to the rest of us to act like your being Jewish is no big deal. It's up to you to make sure it is.

    •  I AM THE KVETCHMEISTER. (0+ / 0-)

      But, uh ... I am really not sure what to make of your saying that Christmas is

      Not Christian [...] and not just a little Jewish in outlook and values as it is practiced today. No, not commercial or material values, but Jewish in the ideals of Family, Children, Traditions, and Community.
      Last I checked, Jews didn't have a monopoly on those things.  And I'm pretty sure Christians have always had them too.

      As to this:

      I hope you will come to the conclusion that it wasn't the Holiday that made you feel separate and distinct. It was the people around you who did Christmas that made you feel that way. They did and do the same thing to Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Atheists . . .anyone who is the Other as long as there are enough of them.
      I really hope my diary didn't give the impression that I (a) blame the Holiday, insofar as such a thing is even possible, for the behavior of those who celebrate it OR (b) think that my people are the only ones who get excluded by the ubiquity of Christmas this time of year.  I certainly don't, either one.
      •  A quick reply to your reply (0+ / 0-)

        Your second point is well taken.
        Your first point is off base. Family, Children, Community are not particularly Christian values. For most of the history of the Religion much more is made of the World hereafter, than the one we are in. So, children are ephemeral nuisances, that rarely grown up. Family is that thing Jesus is supposed to have said you must be willing to walk away from to follow him. Community is only the class you belong to, and it is only worthy for what it gives you and takes away from others.
        No, Christianity for most of its history has been a savage religion that sought out nothing more or less than converts, by proselytizing or the business end of a sword.
        So, when in the Victorian age the European version of Christianity started to take on attributes of the growing middle class, the Christmas holiday began to finally leave it Saturnalia roots -- complete with drunkenness, debauchery, and the poor looting the rich (that part I sort of like) -- and started down the road to the holiday you encountered. However, it was not until those Victorian values were acted upon with no small effect by the Jewish Decision makers in the popular arts of America did the Christian culture fully adopt the home and family aspects of the way Christmas is today. And the number of cherished Christmas songs and movies created and preformed by Artists of Jewish heritage is undeniable.
        So, there it is. The stark irony that a quasi-Christian holiday made so much better by modern Jewish input is used to remind Jews that they are not Christians, and they are the Other. If I was Jewish, I would want to make damn sure every whack job anti-Semite so-called Christian understands that the best parts of Christmas belong, in no small part to me and my Jewish heritage. And they better be respectful of that fact, or, or well, what can you do?
        Anyhow, just so you know not just a few of us nominal Christians are so disgusted with the overt commercialism of the holiday, and its mindless pagan/secular observances, that we are thinking about changing over to the other Christmas. The other is the Orthodox Christmas that falls about two weeks after the regular one, because the Orthodox follow the Gregorian calendar, not the Julian. Their Christmas, in January is always quiet, spiritual, contemplative and has snow. It has always been about family, and their faith. No one has to go to work on this Christmas. There isn't a second Black Friday. And all modest gifts they give come from a wealth of after Christmas sales. Sweet.

  •  I remember (0+ / 0-)

    in grade school back in the early '60s, we'd have practice for several weeks during school hours for the upcoming Christmas pageant. In fourth grade, I remember that the few Jewish kids were left sitting in the otherwise empty classrooms every time we went to practice, left to do nothing but work on their homework. One of them told me that it was really boring, and I felt bad that they were getting ditched like that while we were getting a break from schoolwork. It was the following year that the school decided to add a few Chanukah songs to the pageant so those kids could be included. This was the early days of the slide toward what you're describing.

    By the time my friend's son was in fourth grade two decades later, and I went with my friend to see his pageant, they did several Chanukah songs and a few other stereotypical ethnic numbers like an Asian-sounding song mixed in with the traditional Christmas carols.

    •  I went to a Jewish grade school (0+ / 0-)

      and one of my brother's friends had previously attended a public school -- this would have been in the early '80s -- where they did not leave the few Jewish kids out of the pageant; they made them participate and sing carols with everybody else.

      None of the options is great, really: being forced to participate in the Christmas pageant, being left out of it entirely, or being "included" by tucking in a few Chanukah songs.  I can't think of a fourth alternative.

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