Every year at Christmas, Hanukkah seems to show up as well, making the Christians of the world assume Jews are lonely at the holidays, but also desirous of being slightly different. Now a few of us may have taken to the time either speak directly to a Jew or, if we’re unable to catch one in the wild, we’ve just Googled Hanukkah to find out what it’s all about. But everyone else is forced to rely on pop culture to explain the whole deal with menorahs and 8 days of presents. Clearly it offers up more questions than answers, but let’s try to piece it all together based on a smattering of commercials and movies we’ve seen.
Hanukkah is Jewish Christmas, but for a Week
The easiest way to understand a thing is to liken it in the most rudimentary, one dimensional way to another thing. Everything is black or white, good or evil, Cheese Nips or Cheese Doodles. This is why so many movie villains are crappy as they have no real human motivation. This is also why Hanukkah is Jewish Christmas. Because it’s when Jews get presents in December, so it’s probably the only way Jews could think of to honor Jesus, right? Probably.
Because the Christmas season is at the same time of year, a majority of the Western world is Christian or at least Christian enough to celebrate Christmas, and capitalism gets a big Christmas boner this time of year, the actual holiday of Christmas saturates everything that happens in December, and that means Hanukkah becomes the most important present and tree-filled holiday the Jews will ever have, because it’s easy for everyone else to understand. And it’s not just Jews. Know what Kwanzaa is? African Christmas with colorful clothing. Ramadan? Middle Eastern Christmas. Tet? Asian Christmas! All you need to know, if you’re not someone who actually needs to know.
There are Many Candles to be Lit
Jews replaced Christmas trees with menorahs, because trees are arguably full of Dutch Elm disease and beetles. The menorah, like a tree, has many branches and lights. Plus you can get all kinds of tacky ones, just like trees.
Since Hanukkah lasts for 8 days, the menorah has lights and you can light one every day when you get a present. Maybe use a cool colored light if the gift is good, who knows? The answer is probably “a Jew” but we’re spitballing here.
Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights, because Jews lived in the desert for 40 years. You know who else lives in the desert? Lizards and cactus. Does this have anything to do with lights? Ever seen a cactus with a flashlight? No, of course not. So Jews like light.
Adam Sandler invented Hanukkah
Prior to about 1986, no one had actually heard of Hanukkah before. It was back then what gluten-free food is today. Some people are into it, but they seem weird and untrustworthy. Now that it’s officially Jewish Christmas, we can look back over the last few years and see that it owes most of its popularity to Adam Sandler, who wrote two songs and one terrible movie about it. Mr. Sandler is a Jew and he wanted you to know more about Hanukkah than this ill-conceived article could ever hope to explain. The movie didn’t work out so well, due in no small part to a terrible script and heinous voice acting. The song, however, is an SNL classic and includes an OJ Simpson joke. It’s timeless and everyone loves and it’s one of the only times you’ll ever come across a rhyme for yarmulke.
Not to be outdone by Sandler and SNL hijinks from the 90’s, South Park also covered Jews at Christmas with Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo, a non-religious symbol of the season. Thanks to his influence we know that Jews and Christians alike can sing songs and enjoy the season without fear of involving Jesus because, let’s be honest, Jesus isn’t at the top of many people’s list of priorities for Christmas anyway. Honestly, if it wasn’t for FOX news and Bill O’Reilly’s annual aneurysm about the “War on Christmas” most of the country would probably have little issue with any formal lack of acknowledgement of any of the Christian elements of Christmas. And those that do are still free to have as many Jesus pies as they wish, or whatever it is those people do to include Christ in Christmas.
The Worst Gifts Ever
Unfortunately for Jews, if they were looking for converts with the apparent awesomeness of 8 days of Christmas, they lost them all after word got out about what kind of chicanery goes down during Hanukkah. Crazy Hanukkah gifts can include things like a left slipper one day and the right slipper the next day, or the mythical dreidel, which is a top invented back in the 1600s when kids, Jewish or otherwise, still probably thought it was a lame gift.
Eight days of gifts becomes one week + of terrible when a pair of socks covers two of the days and you may or may not get stuck with a golem or potato pancakes in your stocking (or whatever Jews hang out for Santa Claustein).