Hanukkah began Sunday night, and Christmas is less than a month away. All too often, woke liberals lump the two together in the politically correct expression “happy holidays.” But the two holidays are very different. America is supposed to be a “melting pot,” but it’s more of a gumbo. One sad thing about each faith’s end of the year holiday is that most Jews do not understand Christmas, and most Christians don’t get Hanukkah. But they should. After all, both faiths are descended from the patriarch Abraham, and each believes in the “golden rule.” People don’t realize that Christianity and Judaism each believe that Jesus was a nice Jewish boy who went into his father’s business. The disagreement is what his father’s occupation was.
As we are in the middle of Chanukah and Christmas is about to start, it’s time for me to explain the differences between them to the people of the opposite faith. Therefore below are 20 differences between Christmas and Chanukah. Why 20? Because The Hebrew letter Kaf represents 20.
Grammatically Kaf indicates a comparison. As this is a comparison between two holidays, below are 20 differences between Hannukah and Christmas (with tongue firmly in cheek).
1. Christmas December 25th, the same day every year. The date is based on the secular solar-based calendar. Hanukkah begins on the 25th of Kislev every year. But that date is tied to the Hebrew LUNAR calendar. The Jewish calendar date of the 25th of Kislev falls on a different day of the secular calendar every year. Most Jews have no idea where Chanukkah falls on the secular calendar until a Gentile friend asks when Chanukah starts. Their question forces us to consult the calendar given to us by the local Jewish Funeral Home. For the funeral home, it’s a great marketing tool. That way, when someone dies in one’s family, the phone number to call is always handy.
BTW the Jews also celebrate December 25th. Why not? It’s a paid day off from work. Usually, as the video below explains, we go to the movies. On the 25th, there are no lines because the Gentiles are doing something else. After we leave the movie theater, we make our annual Christmas pilgrimage to get Chinese food, a traditional Jewish cuisine.
It’s 2021 in the secular calendar, but 4719 in the Chinese calendar, and 5782 in the Jewish calendar. Archeologists and historians still haven’t figured out what the Jews ordered for take-out for the first 1064 years of their existence. In the book of Genisis, we learn that Abraham, a patriarch of both faiths, used to keep all his tent flaps open all the time. Theologians will tell you that’s because he wanted to welcome people, but that’s not true. He kept the flaps open so that when the Chinese food delivery guy saw that he was home.
2. There is only one way to spell Christmas. No one can decide how to spell Chanukah. The Oxford English Dictionary shows 24 different spellings for Hanukkah (Chanucha, Chanuchah, Hanuca, Hanucka, Chanuca, Chanukah, Chanucca, Chanuccah, Chanuka, Chanukah, Chanukka, Chanukkah, Hanucah, Hanucca, Hanuccah, Hanucha, Hanuckah, Hanuka, Hanukah, Hanukka, Hanukkah, Khanukah, Khanukka, and Khanukkah). I like to use many of them–even in the same post. The reason for the spelling differences is the holiday’s real name is in Hebrew חֲנֻכָּה, and Hebrew can be transliterated into English many ways. We also like the spelling differences because it confuses the Gentiles.
3. Christmas is a major Christian holiday. Chanukah is NOT a major Jewish holiday. Chanukkah is only a big deal in America because Jewish parents wanted their kids to brag about getting gifts like their Christian buddies. But that is a fabrication by Jews in America. Hanukkah isn’t mentioned in the Torah. It was created by Rabbis. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but more significant holidays like Passover, Sukkot, and Rosh Hashana, for example, were designated by God. And God outranks the rabbis, which is a fact only some rabbis agree with.
4. Christians (and Jews) Don’t work on Christmas. Regular work schedules apply to Hanukah. Christmas is also a national holiday in the United States; therefore, everybody is off (unless one works at a movie theater or a Chinese restaurant). Unlike the Jewish Holidays in the Torah, Jews are permitted to work. By the way, Here’s a little secret for the Gentiles, if a Jewish employee tells you they have to take off for Hannukah (or Purim for that matter), t
hey are full of Shi, I mean full of latkes.
5. Christians purchase and gift ugly sweaters for Christmas. As golf is the game of ugly pants, Christmas is the holiday of ugly sweaters. Jewish mothers and wives would never allow Jewish men we wear tacky sweaters like that in public. “Uch, you are not going out of the house wearing THAT!”
6. Most Christians do not get upset if you wish them a Happy Hannukah, but many Jews and most atheists get upset if you wish them a Merry Christmas. “Happy Holidays” is a stupid PC term. Technically it can refer to July 4th, Thanksgiving, Groundhog Day, or a Satanic holiday. If you are not Christian and somebody wishes you a Merry Christmas, grow up! It’s the thought that counts, and who knows, maybe they will buy you a present.
7. Christians get wonderful presents such as jewelry, perfume, stereos. The traditional Jewish gift is Chanukah Gelt–coins made from chocolate. Since the increase of type two diabetes and protests about childhood obesity, some have frowned on gelt-giving. Additionally, many Jewish kids are feeling left out because they aren’t getting good stuff like their Christian friends. But here in America, Jewish kids get eight days of presents. Not all of the gifts are stuff they want…some days, they get practical presents such as pajamas, underwear, socks, shirts that make you itch when you put them on…or even scholarly Jewish books which look great on their bookshelves.
8. Christmas is about “Peace on Earth,” Chanukah is about a civil war. Peace on Earth is a big theme of Christmas. Everybody –even non-Christians know this. It says it in almost all the Christmas carols. Chanukah is about a civil war against assimilation. The real Chanukkah story is not just a war against the Syrian-Greek Seleucid Empire and throwing them out of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple. It’s about a civil war between the Jews. Judah and the boys fought other Jews who had turned away from their faith by combining it with Hellenistic practices. It was the Hellenized Jews who invited the Seleucid army to Invade. The resulting assimilation caused a loss of Jewish faith and tradition. Eventually, it led to laws against practicing Jewish rituals. Sadly while Chanukah is a holiday about Jews fighting against assimilation, some ACLU-progressive-liberal types would have us celebrate it by assimilating “Menorahs” in nativity scenes or putting trees in their homes. Which proves have no understanding of the meaning of the holiday. A message to my Gentile friends, you have a lovely holiday enjoy it–but please don’t combine it with my holiday about assimilation. And by the way, they’re not menorahs. They are Chanukiahs (more assimilation).
9. Christmas is a time of enormous pressure for husbands and boyfriends. Their partners expect special gifts. Jewish men are relieved of that burden on Hanukah. Adults give each other cheap gifts just to teach the kids about gift-giving. My father of blessed memory was a house painter. He used to get two wallets as a promotion Christmas gift from the store he purchased his paint from. Every year my mother would gift wrap each of the wallets, my dad would give one to mom, and mom would give one to dad. The real secret was that we knew what they were doing but didn’t say anything. Why ruin their Hanukkah?
For guys dating the same girl for a long time, Chanukah is much better than Christmas. Some Christian men give their girlfriends engagement rings on Christmas. No self-respecting Jewish woman expects a diamond ring on Hannukah. Jewish women want to double-dip— jewelry on Hanukkah— and the diamond ring another day.
10. Christmas brings enormous electric bills-lights around the outside of the house..the inside, the tree..etc. Trees are sometimes lined with popcorn on a string. If that was done for Hanukkah, Jewish mothers would say, “How can you waste food? People are starving in Africa!” However, in many Christian homes, there’s no popcorn. There’s are blinking lights. Some families create beautiful displays outside of their houses, but putting them up can be dangerous.
11. Christmas carols are beautiful because the good ones were written by Jews, Silent Night, Come All Ye Faithful, etc. Most Jews are secretly pleased that many of the beautiful Christmas carols were composed by one of our tribal brethren. My favorite is White Christmas was written by Irving Berlin (born Isaac Bailen). “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” and “I’ll be home for Christmas” were also written by Jews. And liberals believe that Jews like Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond sing those Christmas songs beautifully. Note to my Christian friends, It would be nice if, once in a while, a Christian would reciprocate and do a Chanukah album. How come Nat King Cole never sang “Latkes frying in a frying pan?” Where is Dolly Parton’s I’ll Bring Jelly Donuts Home For Chanukah?”
There aren’t many good Hanukkah songs. Why didn’t those Jewish songwriters write for their own people? BO-ring! Most Chanukkah songs are about dreidels made from clay or having a party and dancing the hora. All we really have is Adam Sandler playing Jewish geography and my favorite which was written by Tom Lehrer. Lehrer’s song doesn’t play Jewish geography like Sandler. It features a lesson about Hannukah and American geography.
12. A home preparing for Christmas smells wonderful. The sweet smell of cookies and cakes baking. Happy people have gathered around in festive moods. A home preparing for Chanukah smells of oil, potatoes, and onions. Part of the story of Chanukkah is the miracle of the one day of oil that lasted for eight days. To remember that miracle, we eat oily foods, potato latkes, greasy jelly donuts, etc.
13 At home the celebration of Christmas and Chanukah is much different. Both are loud, but it’s a different kind of loud. During Hanukkah, even when the entire family is in the same house, the only time the entire family is in the same room is when they light the Chanukiah, otherwise, people are grouped by their household roles in different rooms. Generally, the adults are all talking at once trying to talk over the others. Well, truth be told, only the mothers were talking.
In a Jewish family, there are only two words that a husband is allowed to say in front of other people, “Yes Dear. Every time my mother and her three sisters got together on Hanukkah (or any other time) they would sit at the kitchen table talking so loud there was a fear the neighbors would call the police. They weren’t fighting, but that’s what happens when four Jewish women from Brooklyn get together and talk. Their four husbands would be following the Jewish concept of “Shalom HaBayit,” peace in the household, The fathers would be sitting on chairs in the living room, arms crossed, heads tilted all the way back, and snoring away. Thus they were adding to the decibel level. The kids would be hiding from their parents downstairs in the den. The TV would be on, with the sound all the way up to mask the sound coming from their parents.
It is also loud on Christmas at Christian, but it’s a different kind of loud. Their houses are filled with their entire families– grand kids, kids, adults, and even the dogs. It gets really loud and chaotic on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But the entire family celebrates together, generally not grouped by family roles in different rooms like Hanukkah. Everyone HAS to celebrate together. They can’t sneak away to see all the new films at the movies the Jews have already purchased all the movie tickets.
14. Christians are more likely to wear COVID masks on Christmas than Jews will on Hanukkah. Both faiths hate mandates, but Jews have a holiday called Purin where people are supposed to wear masks. Last year a friend dressed up as Jesus on Purim, confusing and more appropriate on Christmas.
15. Christians go out for a drink, Jews get food. After an office “holiday” party, many of them will go to a bar; The Jews, however, will complain about the food at the party and go to the local diner. Jews have been complaining about food since biblical times. When the Jews were following Moses in the wilderness, we ate manna. Why is it called manna? Well, Exodus Chapter 16 verse 15 is translated into English as, “And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another: ‘What is it?’ –for they knew not what it was.” In other words, for forty years, we ate food sent from God. Despite the source, we kept complaining, “what is this crap?”
16. Christian women have fun baking Christmas cookies. On Chanukah, Jewish women burn their eyes, cut their hands grating potatoes and onions, and then fry them in deep grease to make latkes (potato pancakes). It’s another reminder of the suffering of our people through the ages and another opportunity for a Jewish mother to radiate guilt, “You see what’s happening to me, and just for you?”
17. Christian parents never withhold Christmas gifts to their children. Jewish parents have no qualms about withholding a gift on any of the eight nights of Hannukah. When they do withhold a gift, they don’t blame a fat bearded guy in a red suit and a sleigh pulled by reindeer, putting them on a naughty list either (when I was a toddler, I thought Santa was an anti-Semite because he skipped the Jewish homes. That was until my parents told me that Santa didn’t exist). Jewish Parents try to make their kids feel guilty when withholding gifts. “Great! Now I have to wait in a long line to return your Hanukkah gift!” The Catholics claim to have invented guilt, but we Jews learned to market it much better.
18. The people in the Christmas story have names easy to pronounce and spell, such as Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. The names in the Chanukkah story are Antiochus, Seleucid, and Matta… whatever. By the way, the Maccabees’ last name was not Maccabee. Maccabee is a nickname meaning hammer or maybe an anagram for a Hebrew phrase, “Who is like you oh Lord.” In the end, it doesn’t really matter what their names are. No one can spell their names or pronounce them anyway. Try saying King Antiochus three times fast. On the plus side, even if we don’t know the names of the players in the Chanukah story, it doesn’t matter when we are talking to non-Jews. We can tell our Gentile friends anything about Judaism, and they will believe us as long as we throw in a few guttural “cchh” sounds and we fool them into believing that we are wonderfully versed in Hebrew and Jewish history.
19. In recent years, Christmas has become more and more commercialized. The same holds true for Hannukah. Then again, it would be hard to commercialize the other Jewish holidays. I was in marketing for over 30 years and never figured out how to market a major holiday like Yom Kippur. Can you imagine a TV Ad? No food…music is somber: “Hey everybody…Come to synagogue, starve yourself for 27 hours, become one with your dehydrated soul, beat your chest, confess your sins, a caffeine-withdrawal headache….a guaranteed swell time for you and your family.”
20. Hanukah movies are easier to identify. Christians fight over which movies are Christmas movies. If you ever want to purposely start an argument, walk into a room full of Christians and ask, “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?” Oh boy, it will get ugly. Christmas is a big part of the American culture, so many movies occur during Christmas. Therefore there is a disagreement about whether or not a particular film can be considered a Christmas Movie. Even the film Ted about an oversexed, cigar-smoking, cussing teddy bear is about a granted Christmas wish (see above). But with Hanukah movies, there is no grey area, perhaps because there are so few Hanukah movies besides “Eight Crazy Nights,” “The Hebrew Hammer,” and “The Rugrats Hanukkah.”
Mel Gibson wanted to do a movie about the Maccabees, but the ghost of Judah Maccabee visited him one night, admonished him for being an anti-Semite, and warned Gibson he would be punished if he did the movie without first having a bris (a Jewish ritual circumcision that is performed by a person known as a Mohel). The Jew-hating Gibson was willing to do it, but he couldn’t find Mohel willing to do such a tiny job.
Many Jews do enjoy Christmas movies such as “It’s A Wonderful Life.” My friend Ed Morrissey, an observant Catholic, claims the themes of It’s a Wonderful Life fit better with Easter than Christmas. I strongly recommend that both Gentiles and Jews read his analysis here. One movie that everyone believes is for Christmas is “Miracle On 34th Street” Jewish women tend to love that movie because it takes place in Macy’s. And one more movie point that is important to my Christian friends, sorry but You’re All Wrong, Die Hard Is A Hanukkah Movie.
Chanukah and Christmas are totally different holidays with totally different meanings, but whichever one you celebrate…I wish you all a joyous holiday surrounded by family and friends. And may God fill the coming year with love, good health, peace, and more than a few laughs. After 2021 we need it more than ever.