Growing up, I was the only Jewish kid in my grade. I come from a small town in rural Vermont, and let’s just say that folks weren’t all too familiar with my religion. My family is largely secular, and my sister and I wanted to fit in, so we would celebrate Christmas along with Hanukkah each year. It just meant more presents for us, so we were totally on board!
And so, the tradition of Chrismukkah was born. Given, my family isn’t the only one to do dual celebration: shit, there’s even a Wikipedia page dedicated to explaining what Chrismukkah is! And pop culture staples like The OC featured the fusion holiday onscreen!
Chrismukkah is very real, people.
The best part is that the whole month of December usually consisted of either Hanukkah or Christmas activities. My classmates didn’t quite understand what being Jewish was (in fact, I was routinely asked by my peers the endearing yet ignorant question “Are you Hannukah?”) but I relished in explaining to them the miracle of light, why we celebrated for eight days, and the rules of dreidel.
This year’s calendar gives us a very interesting fusion of the Christmas and Hannukah holidays, one which I don’t remember ever experiencing in my youth; today is both Christmas Eve, and the first day of Hanukkah! The overlap is uncanny! Furthermore, this means that the last day of Hanukkah falls on New Year’s Day. So, really, it’s kind of like all three holidays get rolled up into one bit New Year’s Chrismukkah Extravaganza.
What does it mean? Is this the harbinger of the apocalypse? Or is it some cosmic, symbolic sign of togetherness and healing; a ray of sunshine and hope that is telling us that all is not lost, that 2017 may in fact bring a bonding of cultures and ideas the likes of which the earth has never seen?
Who knows. But, in the meantime, I’ll be enjoying latkes and honey ham and eggnog and champagne to my heart’s delight. I’ll also be singing, “dreidel, dreidel, dreidel,” and “Silent Night” and “Auld Lang Syne.”
Joy to the world.