Nothing rhymes with orange

The significance of a Christmas carol for a Jew


Isaac Gittleman, Online Editor

The moment my stomach is full from a yearly Thanksgiving feast, the Christmas spirit starts up, bringing the season’s greetings to ads, products, nearly everything. It is hard to think of a Minnesota winter without Christmas lights, carols in ads on TV, and the best part––Christmas break.

As a Jew, the closest I’ve come to celebrating Christmas is on ski trips as a kid when the lodge would have kids open presents and I sometimes would shake Santa’s hand and open a pair of ski socks to be a part of the Christmas spirit like the other kids I hung out with.

Even though I am not Christian, I still enjoy the Christmas spirit. I like the decorations, the Christmas jingles, and the excitement Christmas brings people in the cold, dark build up to Winter Break. However, I have to explain one thing that I don’t really like about the holiday seasons

Hanukkah is a pretty minor Jewish holiday, commemorating a heroic victory for Judah and the Maccabees and the miracle of a small amount of oil lasting for eight nights. Jewish people only started giving gifts on Hanukkah to kids because of the Christmas gift-giving spirit. I have felt at times like Hanukkah has been blown out of proportion to make it on more even footing with Christmas to appease more people, when in reality they are not comparable. Much more major Jewish holidays are the High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, in September every year and Passover in the Spring to name a few. In comparison, Hanukkah is relatively insignificant compared to Christmas.

I love Hanukkah because of the family aspect––eating latkes with dinner, lighting candles for eight nights, spinning the dreidel, eating some gelt. Winter for me is about family and warmth, and that is what Hanukkah is for me.

In my understanding, this is the core of Christmas as well. It is about the time with family, the Christmas spirit that brings people together and gets people excited for the holidays. I love that I can find intersection in Judaism and Christianity through the communal value of spending time with love ones.

I feel this winter holiday spirit of warmth in watching corny commercials, drinking a peppermint hot chocolate, or even opening a gift or interacting with Santa. It gets me excited for Winter Break, time with my family, skiing, and a hot cocoa by the fire. This is what winter has always been for me, and that is perfectly fine. I may have a different beliefs system, but Christmas has always been a time for me and my family to come together with time off school and do our thing. Trying to make Hanukkah on the same footing as Christmas is missing the point, we don’t have to necessarily make the holidays equal, because the high holidays in September are far more significant holidays for Jewish people. Instead of trying to make Hanukkah something it’s not in relation to Christmas, let’s instead just use the winter holidays as an opportunity to find our family time within this window created by a different religion.