The Grinch Stole Chrismukkah

Hanukkah and Christmas Are Irreconcilable Holidays

I’m No Kill-Joy: Jordana Horn doesn’t want to steal anyone’s holiday fun. But she believes you simply can’t celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas.
nate lavey
I’m No Kill-Joy: Jordana Horn doesn’t want to steal anyone’s holiday fun. But she believes you simply can’t celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas.

By Jordana Horn

Published December 22, 2011, issue of December 30, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

In my opinion, Jews shouldn’t celebrate Christmas.

And that was the sentence that launched a thousand lips.

I encapsulated my feelings on Jews and Christmas in a blog post I wrote for Kveller, a Jewish parenting website for which I am a contributing editor. I wrote that “if you really look at the meanings of the holidays, there is a fundamental cognitive dissonance that can’t be reconciled. Specifically: The entire point of Hanukkah is to celebrate people who died rather than practice any religion other than Judaism. And to celebrate that and a holiday that celebrates the birth of someone who Christians believe is the son of God does not make sense.”

Christmas is a Christian holiday and, in my opinion, should not be celebrated in a Jewish home, even by an intermarried couple. This does, after all, seem to be the message of Hanukkah itself. “The Maccabees would rather die than observe any religion other than their own — they recognized that they would and could not be anything other than who they were, Jews,” I wrote. “And it is that determination to be who we are and no one else that is what we are celebrating when we celebrate Hanukkah. It’s not presents, not the endless Jewish song YouTube videos and not the ‘holiday spirit.’ What we are celebrating, I’d argue, is bravery and defiance in the name of protecting our Judaism and who we truly are. That is the true miracle. The miracles are those lights of people’s Jewish identities, fighting against the darkness of the rest of the world that threatens to consume them.”

The post went up on December 14. By the end of the weekend, the piece had elicited an extraordinary response online, covering the spectrum of approval to disapproval. More than 1,000 people had linked to the essay on Facebook.

There were those who said there is nothing “wrong” with intermarried, non-Jewish parents sharing their traditions and faith with their Jewish children. Others argued that Christmas has, in America, become a secular holiday akin to Halloween or Valentine’s Day, and therefore it is perfectly “kosher” (my word choice), particularly for a more secular-leaning Jew. “Jordana, what you’re doing with this piece is really the most divisive thing that Jews do to other Jews these day, which is to tell your fellow Jews that they are not ‘Jewish enough,’” one writer commented.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.