For the first time in more than a century, Chanukah falls on Thanksgiving, giving me more reasons to hate this least important holiday on the Jewish calendar.
I probably get more hate mail for my annual Why I Hate Channukah post than anything else I write. It just encourages me to come up with more reasons for hating this stupid holiday.
Let’s start with the one stupid Hanuka song everyone knows:
I have a little dreidel
I made it out of clay
And when it’s dry and ready
Then dreidel I shall play.
There’s so much wrong with just those four lines. More accurate would be:
I have a little dreidel
An underpaid Chinese worker made it out of plastic
And after it’s imported
Then a gambling game I shall play.
Here’s a recap of the highlights of my long list of reasons I hate Hanukah I’ve complied over the years:
• It commemorates a war and has absolutely no religious significance. That war is documented as the first use of guerilla warfare in human history, which explains how 4,000 Maccabees beat the crap of 40,000 Assyrians.
• It’s the one holiday we know based on events that never happened. While we don’t know whether that whole Passover parting of the Red Sea thing ever happened or not, we do know that the miracle-of-the-oil-lasting-eight-days story came about several hundred years later so that the Jews could continue celebrating their war victory holiday by pretending the holiday was about a religious miracle.
• Chanuka isn’t the gift-giving holiday. Purim is. The age-old tradition of giving gifts dates to 1950s suburbia so Jewish kids wouldn’t feel left out of Christmas-shopping madness.
• The food promotes heart disease. To commemorate the miracle of the oil that didn’t happen, we eat food fried in oil for Chanuka. No Shake-n-Bake substitutes because it’s not the potatoes in the latkes that make it a holiday food, it’s the oil.
• Of course, my all-time most important reason Why I Hate Hannukkah is I cannot support a holiday they can’t figure out how to spell. Does it start with a ch or an h? I say neither. Is there one n or two? One k or two? I say one of each because Hebrew doesn’t have double consonants. Does it end with an h? It does in Hebrew, doesn’t always in English. In English, any combination of the above is acceptable. The Associated Press style, the accepted source for newspaper writing, spells the holiday Hanukkah. I say it should be spelled Khanukah, which is as close to the Hebrew as possible and the only way no one spells it.
This year, I have extra reason to hate Hanukah. In past years, I have felt personally responsible for the War on Christmas. With Chanukah usually falling sometime around Christmas, many people feel they should just say, “Happy Holidays,” taking all the joy out of Christmas because how can you enjoy Christmas when you’re hoping someone will enjoy other holidays like New Years and Chanukah as well? For that, I’m very sorry.
This year, us Jews aren’t attacking the sanctity of Christmas. Instead, we’re taking direct aim on Thanksgiving. We’re completely ruining the tradition of turkey and stuffing, football and the Macy’s parade by imposing all of our Hanukah traditions. And for this War on Thanksgiving, again, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry because there’s a whole lot of Chanukah traditions we’ll be imposing on Thanksgiving. At sunset on Thursday, we’ll be lighting two candles symbolizing the second night, and we’ll say a one-line prayer. That’s a whole minute we’re taking away from Thanksgiving. Maybe we can fit it in during a commercial during a football game. We’ll eat latkas (potato pancakes) or suvganiot (jelly donuts). We’ll insist on singing that monotonous dreidel song. If anyone actually has a plastic dreidel made in China, he might even decide to spin it. That should take up another three minutes. And we’ll … well that’s it. Chanukkah doesn’t really have much tradition associated with it.
People who do exchange gifts will have to get to NorthPark Center before Black Friday, and that’s really one of the horrors of this extra-early Hanuka — they’ll have to pay full retail.
So what is my favorite Jewish holiday? Hands down it’s Shmini Atzeret. It’s a holiday mandated in the Torah, and no one today knows what it originally was supposed to celebrate. It falls on the eighth day of Sukkot, the harvest festival. All Leviticus instructs is that Shmini Atzeret is its own separate holiday. There are no foods associated with it. No prayers. No traditions. How can you not love a holiday that celebrates … um, we forgot?
Oh, and since Shmini Atzeret is a biblically mandated holiday and Hanukah isn’t, the celebration of Um, We Forgot is considered religiously more important than our celebration of the invention of guerrilla warfare when 4,000 Maccabees destroyed 40,000 Assyrians and we pretend the oil in the temple lasted eight days until they could get more oil, better known as Chanukah. It was the Middle East. They really want us to believe it took eight days to pick up a little oil?
Actually, there really is more Hanukah music than just that dreidel song. Here’s the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles singing Chanukah in Santa Monica: