by Jared Schwartz ‘18
Tonight marks the fourth night of Hanukkah, which means that Christmas is fast approaching. Due to the fact that both holidays occur during the same time of the year, many people tend to think of Hanukkah as simply the Jewish version of Christmas. This could not be further from the truth. Hanukkah is a relatively minor Jewish holiday that most people only know of due to the fact that it takes place near Christmas, while Christmas is one of the most important Christian holidays of the year. Still, one cannot blame people for making this mistake. Hanukkah has a gift-giving tradition and it has been commercialized, just as Christmas has.
While there is nothing wrong with celebrating one’s cultural traditions, the Christmasification of Hanukkah has gone too far. As a Jew, I cannot help but hate the tacky light-up menorah that my mother hangs up in our house’s window. No culture is completely pure from the influence of other cultures, and Jews should not necessarily stop giving gifts on Hanukkah. However, Jews need to stop pretending that Hanukkah is the Jewish version of Christmas because doing diminishes our collective Jewish identity rather than asserting it.