My Issues with Christmas

14 12 2010

Q: What stereotypical thing do most people think of when they think of December?

  • a) Snow
  • b) Holiday shopping
  • c) Christmas

A: If you answered, Christmas, you sir, or madame, are correct. Notice though, how I did not include any other holiday like, Channukah or Kwanzaa or Ramadan or Festivus. No sir, the general consensus doesn’t care for the “other options.”  It’s the Christmas-way or the highway. And this really bugs me.

Growing up in the United States has taught me some interesting things about the way people think. For one, many people treat the Christmas holiday as an American holiday. Many people claim that all Americans can get into the “Christmas spirit” by decorating and singing and spreading cheer. But I’m sure many religious Christians can argue that Christmas is really more about that and (ahem) the public is missing the forest for the (decorated) trees.

This image sickens me.

There’s also the issue of timing. I’ll let you in on a little secret: while Christmas always falls on the same date, Channukah does not. (I can’t say for other holidays, since I don’t know.) Channukah, a Jewish holiday, follows the Hebrew calendar which unlike the secular calendar, is lunar. This means that holidays fall on different dates when they are converted to the American calendar. Alexandra: haha, yeah, you’re like my favorite non-family personThis year Channukah occurred during the first eight days of December, making it come pretty early in the month. Christmas however, isn’t for a few more weeks after Channukah ended. So, wishing someone a “happy holidays” days or weeks after say, December 8th, means that you are not knowledgable about when other holidays are / you are ignorant.

I'm not one to insult Disney, but isn't "Happy Holidays" only conveying Christmas here?

I went to an office holiday party this afternoon and the administrator wished everyone a “Happy Holidays.” And while I definitely prefer this over a wishing of, “Merry Christmas” which is so not P.C., it still doesn’t ring well in my ears. Thanks for trying to appear better, but my holiday was over a while ago. (But like I said, Kwanzaa, et. al, could yet to happen too, so it’s not the worst.) But where’s the justice for Channukah?

Speaking of treating Channukah and Christmas with the same respect, then there’s the displays. Christmas lights are seen everywhere once Thanksgiving is over. Christmas decorations and decorated trees take over the visual senses in the wintry months. Some of you might say, but it’s ok because The White House has a menorah. Yet, the White House menorah is so boring and dull looking. It’s as if the White House staff sought to display the least decorative and pretty menorah they could find. And other places put up small, unnoticeable Channukah displays off to the side and partly hidden. So you, Christians think it’s totally fine as long as there is some other religious recognition. No matter the size comparison.

Very simple and minimal in the decorations here.

Well here’s some news for you: Channukah is known as The Festival of Lights. That’s right, lights. Last I checked, Christmas did not claim the same nickname. Christmas is the “birthday of Jesus Christ.” Am I right? Christmas is basically a birthday celebration. And while I’m not saying that birthdays shouldn’t be celebrated with decorations, I am saying that Christians shouldn’t take away the lights that the Jews should have. Channukah = lights. Christmas = birthday.

A lights display for, "10 Lords A-Leaping," taken from the song, "The 12 Days of CHRISTMAS."

And while I’m on the subject of Christmas decorations, I want to bring up the idea of decorating trees. I have no beef with decorating trees, but when you kill something and then decorate it? That’s a little crazy. I am not a supporter of killing trees and then bringing home the say, “carcass” to adorn for all to see. To contrast, Judaism values trees very highly. There is even a holiday celebrating trees, sort of like the under-looked Arbor Day.

So as you can tell, I have my issues with Christmas. But I don’t think my reasons are unjustified. I feel like more people should be knowledgable of other religions. With knowledge comes respect, and with respect could hopefully come, recognition. I’m not going to make Christians surrender to Jews for Channukah, because in all honesty, it doesn’t matter that much, since Channukah isn’t even a major holiday in Judaism. But it just seems that Christians have to make their holiday into such a fuss and a competition. So maybe Jews can just realize that such a competition is silly, but I still believe that like the Maccabees, the heros of the Channukah story, the Jews should be able to fight back for their (religious) say and in the least, equality.

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