10 December 2016

Overlap: Christmas/ Hanukkah WHAT is the big deal?


It's not every year these two holidays which have nothing to do with each other occur on the same date. The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah (or Chanukkah, or Channukah or however you want to spell it) starts on the lunar calendar date of 25 Kislev. The Christmas celebration is celebrated on the solar calendar on 25 December. And this year, 2016, those two dates collide and help us to have some great fun with the joys of the season.

Of course this Jewish holiday was not a major festival, that is, not until the late 19th century, when Christmas (which also was not a major holiday of the year) grew in epic capitalistic proportions. As the holiday became the reason for shopping, the shop owners drove it more and more into what it is today, which is barely recognizable as the birthday of the leader of the religion. And Hanukkah which celebrates a military victory is merely an excuse for many for a "Jewish Christmas."

These two Canadian actors and Yiddish specialists perform a great service to the world in their humor. Here is their latest episode featuring many holiday songs for both holidays, with funny spin, of course. They had another funny episode last year about Jews in Chinese restaurants on Christmas if you like this sort of thing.

To many the mixing of secular fun with religious dignity is inappropriate. After all the birth of Jesus is significant and worth stopping shopping and listening to the angels sing, "Christ is born in Bethlehem." Some say the Maccabean victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 BCE (which Hanukkah memorializes) should not be mixed with chocolates, donuts, and potato pancakes, along with spinning tops (dreidels) and other frivolity. But we don't think like those opponents. We think festivity makes the religion work better. And that's why we like this video from the US on Hanukkah/ Christmas/ Christmukah from the Kosher Joe/JFJ people.

This year the dates line up, even if the holidays don't match.
This year your dates may line up, for a week off from work, and neither of these events have anything to do with your life.
Fair enough.

But if Yeshua (Jesus) is, as the boys sang in the first video, was a Jew (Yoshke was a Yid), then maybe he does have something to say to us in this (or any) season. If Yeshua was Messiah (that's what Christ actually means) and actually was born in Bethlehem (like the Jewish prophet Micah said would happen); if angels declared him to be the "King of Israel" as many songs agree; if as Mendelssohn wrote "Hark, the herald angels sing", "Glory to the newborn King" then we must answer this question-- "Who is Jesus?" Without the clues of singing along with the holiday favorites, we might be clueless.

Lynn Wein McCoy answered that question by listening to the carols. At a Harry Chapin concert no less! Here is what Lynn wrote about Christmas . And maybe you will have a similar conclusion.

What is the big deal about Christmas anyway? We think it's about the birth of the Jewish messiah foretold by Jewish prophets in the Jewish Scriptures. That would make anyone stop and 'listen to what I say. A child, sleeping in the night, he will bring us goodness and light.'

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