Hanukkah? Christmas? Why not celebrate both at once this December?
December is known as the holiday Season. It features Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the winter solstice, and other major and minor holidays — and let's not forget Festivus. But if you have a diverse family or friend group, or just really, really love to celebrate the holidays, there’s a relatively new tradition: Chrismukkah.
Chrismukkah is a satiric term for the merging of Christmas and Hanukkah traditions within a mixed-faith family, creating one big “super holiday”. The hybrid holiday can be embraced by interfaith families looking to teach their children about both Judaism and Christianity, Jewish people who want to join in on the Christmas craze every December (or vice versa), or non-religious people who still happen to love the holiday season. Chrismukkah is also an ironic, alternative winter holiday, much like the Seinfeld-derived "Festivus."
Chrismukkah’s origin goes back to assimilated German-Jews of the late 1800s who called the holiday "Weihnukkah". Weihnachten is the German word for Christmas. Chrismukkah gained fame after being featured in the FOX television program The O.C. which starred a half-Jewish, half-Christian character, “Seth Cohen” played by Adam Brody. Featuring Christmas music, Chinese food, menorahs, Santa hats, and more presents than you can imagine, The O.C.’s take on the holiday season was quickly embraced by pop culture.
Clearly, Christmas and Hanukkah are totally different holidays. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus while Hanukkah commemorates the Maccabees’ triumphant victory against religious oppression. Other than calendar proximity, the two holidays have little meaning in common. Chrismukkah is not intended to replace either Hanukkah or Christmas. Chrismukkah does not aim to diminish or make light of the religious significance of either holiday. It does not try to syncretize Christianity and Judaism. Truth be told, Chrismukkah is not even a holiday… not literally. It’s a tradition. Chrismukkah celebrates free-thinking, non-conformity, open-mindedness, and the embracing of diversity. It’s a way to break down barriers that separate us. It’s a small act of defiance, a protest in a world where religious intolerance and killing continue to dominate the headlines. Most importantly, Chrismukkah celebrates what we have in common rather than what makes us different.
Because Chrismukkah is both made up and a blending of two established holidays, this celebration can really be whatever you want it to be. Whether you want to deck their trees with stars of David, spin the dreidel under the mistletoe, decorate a menorah with pine tree-shaped candles, or rock a Santa Claus yarmulke, it’s all fair game during Chrismukkah.
Ultimately, it’s not about which holiday is better or the differences between the two, but about the traditions we’ve made that are unique to just us. That’s what makes Chrismukkah magical. In our view, much of the benefit is material. There will be eight days of presents, followed by one day of many presents.
Above all, the focal point of Christmas and Hanukkah, as with other wintry holidays, is coming together to celebrate good times with friends and families. Right before we head into the new year, these festivals give us the opportunity to connect with loved ones, appreciate the little miracles in our daily lives and charge up for a productive new year in 2019.
May your Chrismukkah be filled with the true miracles and meaning of this beautiful time.