‘Holidays’ skewing Hanukkah into Christmas

Published: November 20, 2015

Photo courtesy of wikimedia commons IF HANUKKAH was not near the now nationalized holiday of Christmas, it would not resemble it.

PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / IF HANUKKAH was not near the now nationalized holiday of Christmas, it would not resemble it.

Commentary by

The term “holidays” on the surface seems to be an inclusive and politically correct term, but it is incorrect and offensive. I wrote a similar article last year, but I feel the issue is prevalent and unchanging and must be addressed again.

First, we need to look at which holidays the “holidays” consist of. First, of course, Christmas, the root of this entire situation, but we will get to that later. Then, Hanukkah and lastly Kwanzaa are also part of the “holidays.”

Now we have to figure out why these are the “holidays” people talk about from October until the end of December. Christmas is arguably the biggest Christian-turned-national holiday in America and in most westernized countries in the world. Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday commemorating a triumph over the Greeks. And Kwanzaa is a relatively recent American-born holiday for African Americans to honor their African heritage.

So why are these two holidays as important respectively to the cultures that celebrate them as Christians do Christmas? The answer is they aren’t. Most people who celebrate Kwanzaa celebrate Christmas as well (Kwanzaa actually was originally created intentionally around Christmas time as an alternative to provide African-Americans an opportunity to celebrate their heritage). Because of this, I am going to focus on the difference between Christmas and Hanukkah because they are both traditional religious holidays.

Hanukkah is a minor holiday. That is really all that matters. If Tu B’Shevat, also a minor Jewish holiday, fell around December each year, it would be treated similarly to how Hanukkah is treated now. It would be known by most non-Jews (such as Hanukkah is), there would millions of dollars worth of merchandise circulating and it would be included in any politically correct inclusion of the “holidays.”

It would most likely also be a present-giving holiday. I guarantee Jewish children would not receive gifts during Hanukkah if it was in May- that tradition would be handed off to another holiday closer to Christmas. Of course many more religious Christians will say presents aren’t the meaning of Christmas, but it still originated from Christmas and was subsequently pushed upon Hanukkah for all the children who felt left out.

In a legitimately inclusive and correct society, Rosh Hashanah, a major Jewish holiday celebrating the new year, or Passover, a major Jewish holiday commemorating the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt, would be given more secular attention than Hanukkah does.

I am often offered excuses from classes by professors for Hanukkah but questioned when I request to be excused for Rosh Hashanah or Passover. This upsetting scenario is very common and reflects the misrepresentation of Jewish holidays, especially Hanukkah, in today’s Christian culture. I would far prefer somebody to say “Merry Christmas” to me around this time of year rather than “Happy Holidays.”

One is correct and one is incorrect. The holiday tree in New York City is not a holiday tree. It is a Christmas tree.

Hanukkah does not utilize trees in any customs and neither does Kwanzaa. These instances of being politically correct make the situation factually incorrect and, therefore, more insulting.

It is offensive when people believe Hanukkah is as important to Jews as Christmas is to Christians. It reiterates incorrect notions and promotes religious ignorance.

Contact the writer: eliana.saks@scranton.edu

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