Friday, December 25, 2009

The Problem with Belated

I have a problem with today.

For example, I've got friends wishing me, today, a Merry Christmas.  Not in conversation, but through things like Facebook.  Why is it annoying?  It makes me question why people are going out of their way to wish me a happy holiday that I don't celebrate or observe.  Considering the exact people who are doing this, I can even question whether or not it's benignly friendly.

And then there's all the "Merry Christmas, and happy belated Chanukah!" that I keep seeing on my news feed.  That's worse.

Chanukah is over, and people seem to know that.  If you wanted to wish people a happy Chanukah, why did you wait until it's been over for a week to do it?  If you didn't know when it was, why didn't you look it up (which I do for every single Jewish holiday every single year as it is)?  If you're just trying to wish people generic happy holidays, then why not just say "happy holidays?"

The thing is, wishing people a merry Christmas and then adding Chanukah at the end, regardless of when the hell Chanukah even was, does two really stupid things.  First of all, it's fucking obvious that you're really just trying to wish people a merry Christmas because otherwise you would have already wished people a happy Chanukah.  And the second thing it does is reinforce the still-widespread idea that Chanukah is a moderately important Jewish holiday that's sort of the Jewish version of Christmas.

Chanukah isn't the Jewish version of Christmas, or the Jewish version or anything.  It's the story of a small tribe of Jews who miraculously fought and won against the Syrian army (the story of the oil is a second miracle; the menorah in the Temple needed to be lit, but it would be another 8 days before more oil could be procured.  The Jews decided to light the menorah anyway with whatever oil they had, only enough for one day, but it somehow lasted 8 days instead).  Jewish traditions during Chanukah are playing dreidl, often for money (wooo), lighting the chanukiah (which is commonly referred to as a menorah, even though menorahs only have 7 candles and chanukiahs have 9 so you can light 8 candles with the shamash candle), eating latkes which are NOT hash browns (latke recipes are much more complicated than just shredded potatoes fried on a skillet), and ... that's pretty much the story.  Gift-giving is only because of Christmas.

And it's not an important holiday.  Pesach's an important holiday, which you'll realize as soon as you attend a seder.  Rosh Hashanah is an important holiday (what with it being the new year), involving specific kinds of food (delicious specific kinds of food).  Yom Kippur is THE holiday.  Sukkot, Simchat Torah, and even Shabbat, which is WEEKLY.  But no, everyone just knows Chanukah because it's ... like Christmas!


So, don't wish me a merry Christmas personally, please.  And the belated Chanukah stuff?  Just look it up next year and get your timing right.  Wishing people a happy belated Chanukah ON Christmas?  It's a bit obvious.

No comments:

Post a Comment