December 03, 2005

Thoughts about the Holiday Season From the Other Side

I have written about my feelings on the holidays on multiple occasions. You can some of them here and here.

Q has written a piece that I think is worth reading. I don't agree with him on a number of things, but I think that his heart is in the right place and he touches upon something that resonates with me. At least my interpretation of his words is roughly this.

Why have people taken what should be a holy day and turned it into something that doesn't reflect the holiness of that day.

From a Jewish perspective it resonates with me because I don't understand why some Jews feel a need to try and compete with Xmas. It is not our holiday and that is ok. Chanukah is not the Jewish Xmas, never was and never will be.

We have always given our children Chanukah gifts and will continue to do so but have been very careful not to go crazy with our gifts.

I think that the real point of what Q is saying is that the meaning of the day has been lost and that the noise surrounding it is obscuring that.

Anyway, just my two cents.

7 comments:

Tanisha said...

And I agree with your two cents. Why do Jews try to be Christians? Don't they know being Jewish is cooler? As a convert I don't miss Christian holidays and I find the rituals of Jewish ones even better.. What say ye Jack?

H said...

Jack - actually Hannukah is the Jewish version of a pagan holiday celebrating the passing of mid winter and our release from the darkness as the days start to grow longer. And Christmas is the Christian version of Hannukah - why did they choose the 25th of December - is it really because they thought Jesus was born then? Uh, no!

The truth is that winter sucks for humans and we all get depressed so we need to celebrate. If you live in america, Britain, or pretty much anywhere in CocaColaland, that means retail therapy these days, so actually consumerism is just the modern day coping mechanism for winter, which means it is the true air to Hannukah, Christmas, Divali, whatever. So if one is an american, then consumerism is infact your cultural response to winter. In the Jewish tradition, which you have chosen not to be a part of, by living in America, not Israel, the response to the hormone deficiency which is winter, is attempting to OD on oil related food products. Death by food is in fact a typical Jewish cultural response to anything, but it really does actually make sense in Hannukah-sufgania terms.

Of course Israel is also part of the United Nations of Microsoft inspired Americanisation, so consumerism has infected us too. But you know what - whatever gets us through to spring, and hopefully a new dawn.

MC Aryeh said...

I think it's because X-mas is so pervasive and in-your-face in America. The songs are everywhere, the lights, the trees, the Santas. It is attractive to kids..

I so appreciated not having that in Israel. In fact, one of the funniest things there is that X-mas lights are sold in Meah Shearim as sukkot decorations. I wonder if they have any idea what they were intended for...it is so wonderful to walk around and see chanukah lights in every window,,,

Neil said...

I think Hannukah plays a much bigger role for Jews who don't live in cities with Jewish communities and Christmas is still celebrated like a sacred holiday. I guess my parents were comfrotable enough with their Jewishness that we weren't afraid that Christmas was going to turn me into an instant convert to Christianity. I even have picturs of me sitting on Santa's lap at Macy's. But I did have a cousin from a small town who came to visit one winter and we went to Macy's. When he saw the Santa Claus, he literally freaked out because his parents taught him that Santa was bad. His parents, because they didn't have much of a Jewish identity, were terrified of Christmas and went all out with Hanukkah gifts, etc. to counteract it.

Jack's Shack said...

Hi Tanisha,

It is about learning how to appreciate what you have and enjoying the tapestry of Jewish life.

H,

Nice try, but it doesn't wash.

MC,

I know what you mean.

Neil,

makes sense to me.

Stephen (aka Q) said...

Thanks for the feedback, Jack. You've captured the gist of my position.

My proposal that Westerners stop celebrating Christmas was not meant seriously … because it's never going to happen. But I genuinely envy the fact that your Jewish holy days have not been secularized.
Q

Jack's Shack said...

Hi Q,

It is always good to speak with you.