Jews who love Xmas.
For the record, I spell Christmas, “Xmas” and will do so for the remainder of this blog.
Some Jews have confessed to me that they love Xmas because of the following reasons:
* The lights are pretty
* The Xmas tree is pretty
* The songs are happy
* People are nicer to each other during the Xmas season
* Xmas is fun
* They like the smell of pine
I have yet to meet a Jew who has confessed to the following:
* They believe in Santa Claus
* They believe in flying reindeer
* They believe December 25th is the birthdate of Jesus
* They celebrate the ancient Roman holiday of Saturnalia (massive drunken orgy, which includes singing naked in the streets, a big feast, gift giving, etc.) and is the most authentic origin for the holiday itself…
If a Jew does not celebrate Xmas religiously or secularly, but purely out of aesthetics and the emotional rush of happiness, then what is the problem?
This centuries old holiday comes with a multitude of folklore unique to nearly every country. The myths, the allegory, the traditions and the food range from culture to culture.
Yet in America where it is the most commercialized, it is also the most annoying.
It is a forced aggression of shopping, buying presents to impress people you don’t know or like. It consists of going to parties with co-workers you don’t care about, spending money you don’t have and eating like a gluttonous fool. It is tacky, gaudy, loud, tasteless and obnoxious. It is very AMERICAN.
Yet for me, it is about winter, the season. It is about snow, it is about everything being covered in a quiet blanket of white. It is about the moon, the winter solstice and about icicles that glow in the sunlight. It is about shorter days and longer nights.
I feel sleepy and I want to be snuggly in front of a fire with a warm mug of deliciousness. I like to bundle up in comfy jammies and curl up in a blanket. I like to hibernate and be pensive. I begin to slow down and my entire demeanor changes. I begin to desire warm soups and I make them all the time. I crave different types of stews and fun adult beverages made over the stove. I love the way my home smells and the satisfaction I feel.
No, Hanukah is not a Jewish Xmas. Hanukah is so much more meaningful. Xmas is a feel-good rush of joy and for Jews; it has nothing to do with religion or secular goyish traditions. Hanukah is history; it is the survival of our peoplehood and the courageous strength that we have always shown in the face of annihilation.
If you combine our powerful epic event of the Maccabee’s with winter solstice, the smell of pine, happy music, sweet treats and whatever you find lovely- why not?
Does this mean that a Jew who admits to liking Xmas is “assimilated?” No and I will tell you why…
We Jews have lived in every land, during every time period for nearly 4,000 years. We are citizens of our world. We are a light unto the nations. We are contributors to all life, all culture, all peoplehoods and we keep and maintain our Jewishness for ourselves, our future generations and because of our pride and dedication to self-preservation.
The ability to appreciate and enjoy other aspects of the cultures and rituals that surround us do not make us less Jewish. How can one judge the level of one’s Jewishness based on finding pleasure in something purely aesthetic and joy provoking?
Do I think Jews should all have Xmas trees, manger scenes depicting all of the characters in the Jesus birth story? No. Do I think Jews should sing O Come All ye Faithful and Silent Night with their kids? No. Do I think Jews should go to their local church Xmas pageant? No.
What about seeing The Nutcracker, or A Christmas Carol? What about watching It’s A Wonderful Life? Are these not inherently Jewish values, concepts and ethics being taught thematically during this season?
Is this not the most sought after time of year when charities and non-profits seek donations? Is this not the time of year to give to those less fortunate than us? Are we not to recognize that the world around us is united in the concept of giving? This is inspirational and if lights, trees, reindeer and candy make people happy and want to give, then so be it.
Be a good Jew. Give to the poor or support your favorite charity. Send money to the Friends of the IDF. Donate food and clothes you don’t wear anymore to your local Good Will. Teach your children who the Hasmonean dynasty was and remind them this was the first time in roughly 700 years Judea was controlled by Jews. Teach them that this family ruled our ancestral land and that the Maccabees were fearless, loyal Jews who fought to preserve our traditions and way of life. Then you can sit back, sip a cup of hot cocoa, watch the crackling fire and watch the snow fall slowly out of the sky. You see, we are all connected anyway, whether you want to admit it or not.
I am not telling you to be a goy and celebrate Xmas. I am telling you to appreciate beauty however it comes to you and share what you have with others…Because that is very Jewish.