(December 13, 2011 / JNS) Hanukkah, known as the reason why people say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” has a rich history dating back to about the early 1950s. What started as a minor, non-religious holiday got swollen up to the joy of children and to the frustration of teenagers thinking “Really, eight nights of this?”
Still, as great as Hanukkah is, it’s young and open to interpretation. With that in mind, I have some suggestions on how to improve the holiday.
- Pick a new candy mascot. As far as Gelt, a sack of golden coins used to gamble isn’t exactly the message we Jews want to send out there.
- Be aware: some Reform Judaica shops will offer you a great deal on a deluxe 12-candle menorah.
- Spell it as “Hanukkah.” Look, I know that in Hebrew it’s “Chanukah” but that isn’t the sound it really makes in Hebrew. If we really wanted to be accurate, we’d write it closer to “Kkhhanakah.” Try getting your roommates excited for that.
- Playing Dreidel is a great way to introduce kids to gambling. For older children, give them 10-to-1 odds on Nana giving yet another scarf.
- At whatever Hanukkah party you have, remind your cousin Jake that the oil in the temple lasted eight days, so that bottle of wine should last at least till 10:00, buddy.
- Sufganiyot? Not worth it. They taste as good as the word looks.
- Hanukkah can’t compete with Christmas; trying even makes us look bad. We should instead look to more favorable comparisons like “Lent, except not that” or “Ramadan, except we eat and get presents.”
- Don’t mention the “miracle” of “a little oil going a long way” in regards to your grandmother’s cooking.
- When telling the story of the Maccabees, take a moment to remember the good old days when the bad guys just tried to ban our religion and break our temples.
- Lastly, we should highlight our positives. For example, we should call Hanukkah the “Holiday of lights we don’t leave hanging up and blinking all the way from Thanksgiving to March.” Hey, it’s worth a shot.
Lev Novak attends Tufts University and is a frequent contributor for College Humor magazine