By Julia Mendelsohn and Aleeza Zinn
Have you gotten a Christmas tree yet? What do you want for Christmas this year? Do you want to do Secret Santa? Where are you going during Christmas break? Do you still believe in Santa?
All of these are expected questions during the holiday season. For people who are not Christian or do not celebrate Christmas, the ‘holiday cheer’ is not very cheery. Rather, it is quite overdone and excessive.
Christmas is everywhere, even before December. Beginning in November, stores start playing Christmas music and dedicate a section of the store to Christmas decorations. Hanukkah, along with other religious holidays besides Christmas, is nowhere to be seen. At some stores there will be one table with a few candles for a Hanukkah menorah, and maybe a few Star of David lights.
Jewish people do not need to fret, however, for Safeway has a beautiful Hanukkah display of matzah. For those who are unaware, matzah is for a different Jewish holiday: Passover, in April.
This demonstrates how people do not know about other religions, even large companies whose jobs are to satisfy their customers. Honestly, if a company correctly portrayed other holidays, they would definitely make more money. If Safeway supplied more Hanukkah themed items, you know we would buy them.
Forget about Safeway, at least they tried. Don’t even get us started on Starbucks… Oh, the ‘holiday’ themed cups. As if the red cups weren’t enough, they casually place any array of reindeer or Christmas lights to bring more of that ‘holiday cheer’ to their customers. Wait a minute. We are customers, and we do not feel ‘cheered’ by dancing reindeer.
The radio this time of year is great. There are stations dedicated solely to Christmas songs, and even on regular pop stations, they also make sure to throw in Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas.”
Now, name a Hanukkah song. We dare you. No, not the Adam Sandler “Hanukkah Song,” a real Hanukkah song. Exactly.
Christmas has become a franchise, a Hallmark holiday. Christmas sweaters, 25 days of Christmas movies, stocking stuffers; the religious aspect has been lost. For other religions, the religious significance has been devalued as well, because of Christmas. Other religions have become seemingly more commercialized, which is a shame. All because of Christmas…
Noel is such a phenomenon that it has become a nationwide holiday, with public school year calendars scheduled around Dec. 25. No public school attending, American student has ever had to go to school on the golden holiday. For us Jews, this year is the first time in a while where we get to celebrate Hanukkah without having school the next day and without cramming for tests, all the while trying to light the menorah and play dreidel. This is not because the school board decided to honor other religions in the school district, this is because Hanukkah happened to fall on the same day as Christmas.
We are definitely savoring this special coincidence to have no school on Hanukkah, for we know it will not happen again anytime soon.
Growing up as the minority religion, in a red and green world, you could say it was tough. When friends on the playground would ask, “Have you decorated your tree yet?” we would innocently reply “Oh, no, I don’t celebrate Christmas.” Our ignorant elementary school friends would respond with, “What? That’s so sad… I’m so sorry.” As you can imagine, the 8-year-olds in us took this to heart, and began to feel the need for my schoolmates’ pity. We thought not celebrating Christmas was something to be upset about.
Why were our friends so ignorant? Because their whole lives they were only taught about one religion, one holiday, Christmas. Today, however, we know that eight days of Hanukkah surely make up for a tree with lights.
Even though we do resent all of the excessive Christmas-ness, we, as Jews, admit we always love a good eggnog latte.