Yes, this is a “video for Hanukkah.” However, I still feel it is fitting to share on Christmas Eve.
First, because it’s catchy and fun. And second, because it brings up some of the things that American Jews experience during the holiday season: “I may not be filled with good old Christmas cheer, but calling me a scrooge just enhances seasonal fear.” I’ve never heard of “seasonal fear” before, but it seems to be a good term for the anxiety that some Jews have around Christmas time. Personally, I love Christmas lights and carols, and am perfectly comfortable spending December 24th eating Chinese food–I’ve never felt that Christmas was something I have to compete with or even have strong feelings about. Although, even by eating Chinese food, Jews have created a counter-tradition to compete with Christmas–so perhaps I’ve fallen prey to “seasonal fear” myself. Either way, this video is a nice, cheery reminder that even a Jew can appreciate the holiday season, even though it is essentially centered around Christmas.
That being said, I’m not advocating that all Jews go out, buy a Christmas tree, and decorate it, as the singer does in the video. To me, there is no reason why a Jew should have a Christmas tree–just because Hanukkah is “just for the kids” doesn’t mean that it has to be replaced with Christmas. Even though Christmas is a federal holiday and the US Embassy states that “some Christmas traditions have become American traditions,” Christmas is still, and certainly originated as, a religious holiday, and celebrating it as a non-Christian seems strange to me. To me, an American holiday is something whose premise is based in American history, like July 4th, not something whose premise people have forgotten or choose to ignore. I think there’s a value in having separate traditions for different religions, and not needing to blend them all into “American” traditions. It’s great to learn about and appreciate each other’s holidays, but I do not think that it’s necessary to actually celebrate them yourself–there’s nothing wrong with being different.
Even though I’m not celebrating Christmas, I’d like to say Merry Christmas to any reader who is–and to those who aren’t, I wish you a Shabbat Shalom, or simply, a good evening.
A final note: a favorite family tradition of mine is to participate in the DCJCC’s Day of Service on Christmas. This year, it was on Christmas Eve because of Shabbat, and I did not sign up in time to get a slot today. However, my entire family has volunteered in the past at homeless shelters and soup kitchens across DC, and it’s a great way to help ensure that someone else can have a great Christmas. I’d highly recommend looking into it if you’re in the DC area next Christmas.