Monday, December 19, 2005

Happy Christmas, Merry Chanukah?

"I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up - they have no holidays." Henry Youngman

Time to weigh in on the Holiday Vs Christmas brouhaha. I want to state up front that I'm Jewish, which should add to the credibility factor vis a vis my position. Which is: Bah Humbug to those who think the term Merry Christmas is in any way insulting to non Christians. Frankly, we couldn't care less.

While it may come as a surprise to those in the retail business, we know Christmas is a religious celebration of what Christians believe to be the birth of their messiah. The holiday has become secularized because America is primarily a Christian country which also worships ... wait for it ... the Almighty Dollar.

Jews don't believe Jesus is the messiah, so for us Christmas is at best an annoying commercial carnival with endless ads, catalogs, TV specials and demonstrations of greed that confuse and prey on our children. At worst it's a time when some Christians take the opportunity to remind Jews and other non gentiles of their superiority over us, religion-wise.

In fairness, such self-righteousness belongs mostly to overzealous Neanderthals who still believe the Jews killed Christ, but that typically comes up more at Easter or in politics.

And I have a problem with Jews who observe both Christmas and Chanukah, as if Christmas were about Santa Claus and gifting, not Jesus and the creation of Christianity. Chanukah is a religious holiday too, if a relatively minor one, but its importance lies in the recognition of religious oppression and persecution ... and in a celebration of the miracle of faith.

I'd like to add a word here about Kwanza, which is a legitimate and meaningful celebration -- but has nothing to do with religion. I don't understand why Christians of any color or culture would choose to separate themselves from fellow Christians at such a holy time of communal observance.

I say pick a religion and stick with it. If you're an African American Christian, your religious holiday is Christmas. If you're a Russian Jew, it's Chanukah. If you're a Muslim from anywhere it's Ramadan. Period.

Whatever your family origins, Polish, Irish, Mexican, Italian, African, Middle Eastern, etc., etc., if you want to add cultural significance to your life--and teach it to your children--bravo! But don't confuse it and them with mixed messages about religious observance.

And by the way, about the White House "Happy Holidays" card -- I think (take me now, Satan) it's just fine. Unless the White House is prepared to parse its list into various religious groups for individual celebratory messages, it's a appropriate way to cover all bases. God knows, so to speak, that the Bushes are Christians, but a generic greeting makes perfect sense--as well as political hay--by implicitly wishing each recipient a joyous celebration of his or her own religious holiday.

So among ourselves, let's all say Merry Christmas to Christians, Happy Chanukah to Jews and Peaceful Ramadan to those who are celebrating those religious holidays, and leave it at that.

Most important, whether its origins are Christian or not, we should all get behind the concept of Peace On Earth.



Post a Comment

<< Home