2016 is one of those rare years where Christmas and Chanukah begin at the same time. The evening of December 24th is not only Christmas Eve. but it’s also the first night of Hanukkah.
America is supposed to be a “melting pot,” however a sad thing about the end of the year holidays is that most Jews do not understand Christmas…and most Christians don’t get Hanukkah. Since both holidays begin in less than two weeks, as a public service it’s time for me to explain the difference between the two (in the usual Lidblog snarky way, Below are 18 difference between Christmas and Chankuah, all of it true (IMHO) some of it snarky. Why 18? Because in Hebrew the number 18 is represented by the same letters that spell out Chai—life.
1. Christmas is one day, same day every year, December 25 based on the secular solar-based calendar. Hanukkah is tied the Hebrew LUNAR calendar, it begins on the 25th of Kislev every year. However, the 25th of Kislev falls out on a different day of the secular calendar every year.Most Jews never know when that day falls on the secular calendar until a non-Jewish friend asks when Chanukah starts. That question forces us to consult a calendar provided free from the Kosher butcher or the local Jewish Funeral Home BTW the Jews also celebrate December 25th. Why not….it’s a paid day off from work. So we go to movies (there are no lines because the Gentiles are doing something else). After the movies we make our annual Christmas pilgrimage to get Chinese food (a traditional Jewish food). Interestingly 2016 in the secular calendar is 4713 in the Chinese calendar and 5777 in the Jewish Calendar. No one knows how Jews ordered take-out for the first 1064 years of their existence.
2. There is only one way to spell Christmas. No one can decide how to spell Chanukah, Chanukkah, Chanukka, Channukah, Hanukah, Hannukah, etc. I like to use them all–even in the same post.
3. Christmas is a major Christian holiday. Chanukah is a minor Jewish holiday. Hanukkah isn’t mentioned in the Torah, it was created by Rabbis. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but bigger holidays like Passover Sukkot, and Rosh Hashana for example ,were designated by God. And God outranks the rabbis ( a fact that some rabbis agree with). Chanukkah is only a big deal in America because Jewish parents wanted their kids to be able to brag about getting gifts also. But that is a fabrication of Jews in America.
As a matter of fact, the books of Maccabees which tells the Chanukkah story aren’t even part of the Jewish canon, there are many suggested explanations for this, the best of which (IMHO) is politics. The Maccabees broke tradition and took over the offices of King and high Priest, breaking a tradition that was set during the exodus from Egypt when God designated Moses as political leader and the line of his brother Aaron held the priesthood. When a monarchy was finally established it went to the house of David, and Aaron’s descendants remained the priests . Before you liberals start claiming biblical proof of separation of church and state, the reason for the biblical separation wasn’t a fear of religious influence on govt., but the possibility of a corrupt government’s influence on religion –which is exactly what happened with the Maccabee family (their real surname was Hasmonean, but more on that later).
God knew that governments could become corrupt and since there were no bloggers in biblical times to watch over the government, the plan was for an incorruptible Priesthood who were supposed to keep the politicians in line. There were some believed that the Maccabees breach of tradition led destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem and exile of the Jews. When the canonical books were selected about 250 years after the Maccabee victory, and about 70 years after the destruction of the Temple and exile, feelings were still very raw and the Maccabees were booted. Feelings have calmed down but since there are no ancient copies in Hebrew (only Greek translations), the books cannot be added back into cannon.
4 . Christians (and Jews) Don’t work on Christmas, Regular work schedules apply to Hanukah. Christmas is also a national holiday in the United States everybody is off. Because as Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday, work is permitted. Here’s a little secret for the Gentiles, if a Jewish employee tells you he/she has to take off for Chankkah (or Purim for that matter) they are full of Shi, I mean full of latkes.
5. Christians purchase and gift ugly sweaters for Christmas. Just like golf is the game of ugly pants, Christmas is the holiday of ugly sweaters. Jewish mothers and wives would never let us wear tacky sweaters like that in public. “Uch you are not going out of the house wearing THAT!”
6. Most Christians do not get upset if you wish them a Happy Hannukah, but many Jews get upset if you wish them a Merry Christmas. “Happy Holidays” is a stupid PC term. Technically it can refer to July 4th or a Satanic holiday. If you are not Christian and somebody wishes you a Merry Christmas, grow up! It’s the thought that counts (and heck who knows maybe they will buy you a present).