This year’s holiday season boasts an interesting coincidental twist since, in 2016, Channukah commences on Christmas Eve. The first night (Jewish holidays begin at sunset) of the Jewish festival of lights falls on Christmas Eve and the first day lands on Christmas.
The full dates for Hanukkah 2016 are the evening of Dec. 24 to the evening of January 1st. This us another interesting twist where Christmas and New Years fall within the parameters of the miraculous eight days of Chanukkah.
These two major holidays usually fall in close proximity, but only four times per century do we get this kind of special mix. Be on the lookout for an abundance of latkes, chocolate gelt, and jelly doughnuts to directly coincide with the usual eggnog, sugar cookies, ham, and gingerbread houses. Since the holiday begins so “late” this year, the eight-night Chanukkah celebration won’t wrap up until New Year’s Day.
So why has Hanukkah become a late-December affair? The variable Gregorian dates for holidays of the Jewish calendar, which marks its New Year in fall, can be attributed to the fact that it is a lunar calendar, as opposed to the standard Gregorian calendar. The changes emerge from the fact that neither the Gregorian nor lunar calendar succeeds in encompassing an exact entire year, though the margin of error is minuscule. The result is a strange hybrid known as Chrismukkah. The following quote defines it quite accurately.
Chrismukkah is a pop-culture portmanteau neologism referring to the merging of the holidays of Christianity’s Christmas and Judaism’s Hanukkah. The term was popularized by the TV drama The O.C., wherein character Seth Cohen creates the holiday to signify his upbringing in an interfaith household with a Jewish father and Protestant mother (although the holiday can also be adopted by all-Jewish households who celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday). Chrismukkah is also celebrated as an ironic, alternative holiday, much like the Seinfeld-derived “Festivus”. USA Today has described it as “the newest faux holiday that companies are using to make a buck this season”.
Long before “Chrismukkah” entered the popular lexicon in the early 21st century, Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations have been informally merged with one another. A Christmas celebration with a tree, songs, and gifts became a symbol of being a part of the general cultural norms in Western countries.
Some Jews celebrated Christmas as a secular “festival of the world around us” without religious meaning, or they transferred Christmas customs to the Hanukkah festival. In the 1990s, the popular sitcom Friends portrayed a universal acceptance of celebrating Christmas regardless of religious association. Many contemporary American Jewish households often celebrate Christmas in the strictly secular sense.
These hybrid holiday celebration concept is nothing new and has been around for decades. In December 2004, Chrismukkah was listed in Time magazine as one of the buzzwords of the year. It was also reported in a Scottish newspaper, that Chrismukkah had been added to the authoritative “Chambers” dictionary. In 2005, Chrismukkah.com founder Ron Gompertz authored a humorous book of Chrismukkah recipes called Chrismukkah! The Merry Mish-Mash Holiday Cookbook. Gompertz’s follow-up book, entitled Chrismukkah – Everything You Need to Know to Celebrate the Hybrid Holiday (published by Stewart, Tabori, and Chang) was released in October 2006.
A rival book by Gersh Kuntzman, Chrismukkah: The Official Guide to the World’s Best-Loved Holiday (Sasquatch Press), came out at around the same time. In “A Kosher Christmas: ‘Tis the Season to Be Jewish,”(Rutgers University Press, 2013) author Rabbi Joshua Eli Plaut, Ph.D. discusses Chrismukkah and the creation of Festivus and other hybrid holidays among Jews in America during December.
On the local scene, this hybrid celebration has been adopted especially in light of the coinciding dates. There are loads of fun events going on for Christmas and Channukah in Tel Aviv this year! Here are a few of the more attractive attractions.
Christmas Tree Lighting in Jaffa has already occurred at the Jaffa Clock Tower The huge Christmas Tree at the Jaffa Clock Tower will be there until 20th January 2017.
HaTachana HaMercazit 4th Floor Christmas market is where you need to go for supplies. If you are looking for Christmas decorations, your best bet is the 4th Floor of the Central Bus Station (HaTachana HaMercazit). If you are looking for places to do some cool Christmas shopping, check out the Winter Market at TEDER on Saturday 24th December and A Burner Christmas Market at Sputnik Bar on Sunday 25th December.
Bethlehem Christmas Eve Tour from Mazada Tours
Go to where it all began! Mazada Tours have organized a special tour to Bethlehem on 24th December, the day before Christmas. Pick up from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
OneDay Israel is having a huge Chanukah Party. OneDay Social Volunteering Management is celebrating Chanukkah with their volunteers. candles, dance, drink, eat tons of donuts (And more delicious food) and a few more surprises for you as one would expect for the holidays.
Light Up Tel Aviv will occur at Independence Park on 26th December 3.30pm. You can Celebrate Chanukkah with friends and family at Gan Ha’atzmaut with Chabad on the Coast.
Feel the warmth of the Festival of Lights as they light the Menorah with live music, donuts, crafts for kids and more.
Doughnuts are an unbreakable tradition for the Jewish holiday.You can find outstanding donuts across Tel Aviv, and some of the city’s trusted favorites are available to all at varying price levels.
When Chanukkah and Christmas merged together it is a time for unity and celebration, so book your door now so you can experience this holiday where it happened.
By Brent J. Mitchell