Chrismukkah – An interfaith event, or maybe not?

By Vadim Dovganyuk

This year, (Western) Christmas (25 December – 6 January) and Hanukkah (22 December – 30 December) collide again.
It’s not as bad as it’s going to be in 2024, but okay…
(Eastern Christians celebrate Christmas from 7 January to 19 January, hence the “Western”.)

Now, personally, I don’t officially celebrate either, as I’m a Karaite Jew.
That being said, I can’t deny being annoyed by nonsense like “Chrismukkah”.
Beyond the fact that this goes against both the teachings of Christianity and Judaism, and could get into the controversial territory of Messianic Judaism and polytheism, why is there a need to mash the 2 holidays together to begin with?

Let’s be clear here, I live in an interfaith household. Among my family, there is the belief of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Yazidism. And when holidays collide, there always will be some difficulties. However, there is a simple and respectful solution we use, which doesn’t go against our religious teachings. Which is just celebrating both side-by-side. You can have both a Christmas tree and a menorah. You don’t need to have a menorah in the Christmas tree, and other nonsense I have recently heard about. And you can divide time between both the Christian and Jewish practices. In fact, if you celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas alongside each other, they are perfect compliments to each other’s practices.

Now, “Chrismukkah” is something American, and luckily isn’t usual here in Eastern Europe and Western Asia. However, there is actually a rise of this practice here in Ukraine. The same way as celebrating Western Christmas has become more usual than Eastern Christmas. And with these happenings, you shouldn’t be surprised if Ukrainian Jews take great offence in “Chrismukkah”. Let’s not forget that the Soviet oppression of Jews hasn’t been forgotten. We just have forgiven, like most of the Jewish diaspora has done over and over again throughout history.

In relation to this:

Be respectful, celebrate your own holidays. You aren’t required to celebrate those of another. And literally shouldn’t when it means you get into practices which goes against those of the other religion.
If you want to do anything to be respectful, how about choosing “Happy Holidays” as greeting when you are unaware of someone’s religion. And using the correct greeting when you are aware of someone’s religion.

Also, and this is specific towards the treatment of Jews, teach your children what Hanukkah is, even when they’re not Jewish. Honestly, we all know what Christmas is, but most non-Jewish children aren’t aware of Hanukkah. The problems aren’t there because Christians (and certain groups of Muslims) celebrate Christmas, the problem is rather that Christmas overshadows Hanukkah, and religious-Jewish children often are left out because of this. There’s a known feeling of loneliness among religious-Jewish children outside of Israel during this season, and that while it’s so easy to prevent…

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