What It's Like Being A Jew During Christmas Time

You’re walking down the aisles of your local grocery store or sitting in your favorite coffee shop. The song faintly playing in the background changes and you hear it– that unforgettable tune. Mariah Carey’s voice rings out over the loud speakers, “I don’t want a lot for Christmas…” It’s here. That time of year has come. Christmas. Being a Jew during the holiday season is always an experience for plenty of reasons, you could imagine. All of that “holiday cheer” can be, well, overwhelming. Here are some reasons why.

1. The Music

You love it and hate it at the same time. It’s wonderfully annoying. Some places try to be inclusive by playing Hanukkah music but it’s not really doing anything to help.

2. Decorations

Something you missed out on as a kid or that your family adapted to be Jewish was Christmas decorations. Secretly you always wanted to have the Christmas tree sitting in your living room with a bunch of colorful decorations or lights out in the front yard. Making your parents drive around the neighborhood to look at the lights on your neighbors houses and asking why you couldn’t have them was always a treat.

3. Explaining that Hanukkah isn't Jewish Christmas

Hanukkah is a rabbinically defined holiday celebrating some oil burning for 8 days while they went to get more. The gifts were never part of the tradition until Christmas gifts became a thing and there's no Hannukah Harry to watch your every naughty or nice move.

4. Ugly Christmas Sweaters

Yes, they’re perfectly horrible for parties and irony. The selection of Hannukah sweaters, socks or hats are not as plentiful as those for Christmas and are actually more expensive. However, target does have these interesting overalls this year and sometimes our sweaters light up!

5. A Traditional Jewish Christmas

We all know the traditional movies and chinese food perception of Jews on Christmas. Most of the time we don’t really realize it’s Christmas until we try to go do something and everything is closed except for chinese restaurants and the movie theaters. Hibachi is a go-to for sure.

6. Santa

From a very young age, all the Jewish kids are told not to spill the beans on the whole Santa ordeal to their classmates or goy friends. Usually we’re pretty good about it and it ends up being an older sibling telling everyone. The feeling during elementary school when someone tells you they find out Santa isn’t real and saying you knew all along always felt great. My letter written to Santa every year in language arts definitely did not please the teachers.

7. Christmas Shopping

Why does everyone have to budget so much to give everyone they know gifts for one day a year? I have heard, “Sorry I can’t get coffee/food/go to the mall/beach etc. because I have to save for Christmas shopping” so many times throughout my life. Black Friday is great for getting some new clothes or an Xbox, but Christmas shopping makes no sense. In my family and many other Jewish families you get one present from your parents, maybe $18 for good luck from your grandparents or aunts and uncles but not much. Also it’s common to hear “Well if you want it that's your Hanukkah present” as early as October as a Jewish moms’ guilt strategy.

8. Christmas Movies

Yes a lot of them are entertaining like Home Alone or Elf but why are there so many? They all have the same ending with the kids getting the gift and spotting Santa. Seems like a big lie to me.

While Christmas may be annoying at times, it certainly can be enjoyable. Gift giving, peppermint and a forced day with the family are all things that we can thank Christmas for. So from a Jew to you, happy holidays!