Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Why I hate Chrismukah - and why Jews and Christians alike should hate it too.

Remember New Coke? It was a move by Coke to make Coke more like Pepsi. But at the end of the day, new Coke wasn't Coke, and it wasn't Pepsi either. Not surprisingly, I would highly doubt that my kids will ever know that there was a 'new' or 'old' Coke. Coca-Cola learned the hard way that when you try to combine two good things you don't always get something better. And this, quite frankly, is the way I feel about 'Chrismukah'.

Since attaining pop culture status on the TV show "The OC", and due to the juxtaposition of these two holidays on the calendar this year, the term 'Chrismukah' is all over the place. Curiously, I decided to Google it and came up with 22,000 results. Granted, this is far shy of the ~1.5m and 12.7M for Maccabi and Santa Claus, respectively, but nonetheless a significant sum for the short amount of time that it has been popular.

Regardless of your opinions about interfaith marriage - it is something very real in the United States, and as such, there are many Judeo-Christian families where the couples involved need to determine how, when, and where to celebrate either or both of the holidays. Chrismukah seems to be the happy-go-lucky answer ( "Hey, Why don't we make the blessings and we can light the Menorah and the Tree at the same time! Afterwards we can leave Santa milk, cookies, and latkes. ") While this might work from a functional, practical, and negotiating point of view - a unified holiday definitely does not do Justice to either Holiday and their respective religions.

I guess the same thing can be said about the whole 'Happy Holidays' controversy as well. Personally, being that Jews are a minority in this largely christian country, I have no objection to people wishing me a Merry Christmas as I walk around a mall, nor am I offended by the hours and hours and hours of Christmas music that I am subject too. (However, I wish mainstream radio stations had more Chanukah songs than the three versions of that Adam Sandler classic).We are all trying so hard to succeed in pleasing everyone and being diplomatic that sometimes we dilute our principals and rituals in the process. It's as if for the sake of being politically correct, we've defiled the very elements we held dear. The whole notion of taking two Holidays with deep roots and significance in their respective faiths and combining them into a hodgepodge with a kitschy contraction for a name, sells both those faiths and those holidays short. It's as if we've created a new Holiday for the sake of convenience. Seriously, if you are going to make a new holiday why not call it Festivus? (BTW - it is not lost on me that Jerry Stiller a.k.a Mr. Costaza, is a nice Jewish man married to a nice Catholic woman - Anne Meara).

Yes, interfaith couples made a choice when they got married - that the value of their love for one another was far more meaningful to them then their love of their religious rituals. I'm sure you will find an intermarried couple where the christian spouse has fond memories of the tree, presents, cookies for santa, carols, etc. and the Jewish spouse has memories of the menorah, draydel games, songs, and latkes. So, why not do justice to those memories? Isn't that what spouse do? Teach each other? Learn from one another? Share with one another? Why not just celebrate Christimas and Chanukah separately? This way each of you can focus on how to make your holiday memorable and not focus on how to integrate with the other's holiday.

I sincerely hope that Chrismukah dies a quick and painless death, and that families find other ways to share in each others faiths with independent observances.

And on that note, Dear Readers, may you have a Happy Chanukah and a Merry Xmas - whether you celebrate either or both - just please don't do it together.


RBT said...

i takke it you haven't heard of chrismahanukwanzakah yet?

Check out this link

Yonah said...

A while back, my friend Martin Bodek, invented
- but he is a humorist.

My point was that it cheapens the history of these holidays when we try to combine their traditions for the sake of convenience.