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Christmas Season From the Perspective of a Jew

Halloween has come and gone and we all know what that means, Christmas season. While there’s still a few weeks before Christmas, many people have been getting ready for Christmas since Halloween. Growing up Jewish in a pretty Christian town, I have grown accustomed to seeing the Halloween decorations taken down and the lights and inflatable Santa’s go up within days.

For my family however, once we take the Halloween decorations down, new decorations don’t go up until the next Halloween. My friends have always asked me what the Christmas season is like for me so I thought I would try and answer some questions I get a lot.

 

Let me start off by saying that Hanukkah is nothing like Christmas. Every year I find myself explaining to people that while Hanukkah is seen as the “Jewish equivalent”, it isn’t. The Festival of Lights is not the most important holiday on the Jewish calendar and it is not as significant to Jews as Christmas is to Christians. 

Hanukkah is fun, don’t get me wrong. There's dreideling, latkes, and lighting of the candles. However, Hanukkah is usually a 20 minute long affair every night for 8 nights and then that’s it. Christmas, while it’s only one day, has weeks of anticipation leading up to it. So while I do have a holiday to celebrate (for which I am very grateful) it pales in comparison to Christmas. 

 

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Another popular question that I get asked is what I do on Christmas Day. Since most things are closed we generally stay home (something we’ve become good at this year), order chinese food, and watch movies. Most years my family watches A Christmas Story or some other comedy which is our way of somewhat getting into the Christmas spirit. 

This year has already been a lot like Christmas Day for me in that my family doesn’t leave the house and spends the entire day together. Christmas Day is honestly something to look forward to and I enjoy how blissful it is. 

 

My favorite question I get asked is do I enjoy Christmas music. The answer is obviously yes, who doesn’t? Christmas music is so catchy and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” and Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” are just some of my favorites. Sometimes we put on Christmas music in my house when we are baking during the holiday season. 

Christmas music is probably my favorite part of the Christmas season because I feel like it’s the only part of Christmas traditions that I can join in on and since they normally are played everywhere for months leading up to the holiday, so much that I’ve learned all the words without even trying. 

 

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When I was younger if you had asked me what it was like being Jewish during the Christmas season, I probably would have complained about how unfair it was and how much I wanted to celebrate Christmas. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to appreciate it and love the fact that it’s given me and my family the chance to make our own traditions. 

While I have yet to decorate a tree or put up a stocking I’ve gotten to do something more exciting, learned how to light a match at least 3 years before most of my friends did and almost burnt the table on several occasions.

 

I hope everyone has a great holiday season and a wonderful end to 2020!

Reese Bernstein is a senior at Penn State majoring in Psychology with a focus in business. She is from "right outside" of DC in Northern Virginia. Along with writing for Her Campus, Reese is a member of a sorority and occasionally goes to the gym when feeling motivated.
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