Current Big Question
To Chrismukkah or Not
The “December Dilemma”… Festivus… Chanukah bushes… When Chanukah and Christmas coincide on the calendar—as they do this year—the clash or competition between the two holidays can feel especially acute for American Jews.
Our current Big Question asks: In a season filled with Christmas trees and wreaths, what’s the best way to assert one’s Jewish identity? Is Chanukah the answer?
Do you agree with what Rabbi Steinsaltz has to say below? How would describe your Chanukah traditions to those who don’t celebrate? How would you make Chanukah more meaningful?
Add your own thoughts below.
Christmas can have a huge impact on Jews and especially on children. They see the celebrations, families enjoying the giving and receiving of gifts, yet they are not a part of it. Chanukah becomes almost a Jewish counterpart to Christmas. Some blend the two festivals, jokingly called Chrismukah. The mixing of two religions is bad enough for adults, but disastrous for children.
The only way to resist this confusion is to stress the meaning of Chanukah. Its stories and its spirit are a celebration of our age-old fight – culturally and in ancient times also militarily –against the destruction of identity. It is not enough that one light a menorah instead of a Christmas tree; we need to tell, and retell, the stories of Chanukah, our people’s fight to remain free and distinct.