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The war on Chanukah, 2009 edition

by Jeremy Hooper

*Last year's edition: You can sell dreidels, just as long as you mention Jesus [G-A-Y]

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Your thoughts

The model doesn't make him look fat (well, maybe) but the whole message makes him look (AS ALWAYS WITH THESE FOLKS) S T U P I D. The world is not completely christianized - so what they're saying to non-christians as they say to gays - drop dead - get off OUR planet - well, Merry F*ckmas to him. How unchristianlike of me!

Posted by: tom | Nov 12, 2009 10:11:09 AM

Check out, I found a dreidel that even Stuart Shepard would approve of:


And since everyone's recycling material (regifting?), allow me to share my response to 2007's War on Christmas whining, including Shepard's:


This year, my wife and I will be skipping Christmas in favor of watching our hockey teams at their home arenas. (Penguins and Red Wings, which just shows how strong our marriage really is.) I'm getting even happier to have those tickets as The One and Only True December Holiday approaches.

Posted by: GreenEyedLilo | Nov 12, 2009 10:21:13 AM

Ummmm....yeah, actually the person this Holiday commemorate (err..."celebrates") is actually Mirthras, the Persian savior-god. Early Church Fathers admitted to this in their own writings throughout then-Pagan Rome! I hate it when folks like this get their history so drastically askew. Basically, they adopted this date (the old Winter Solstice date) as Jesus' birth, because 1.) they didn't know what day their made-up god-man* was born on, and 2.) everyone else in their culture was already partying hard on that date...even the Christians, so why not "say" that you-know-who was born on this day, even though he wasn't?

* Oh, okay! So, he was an amalgam of many figures, like Osiris, Adonis, Mithra, Dionysus, and Attis (he had a Feast day celebrated on the Vernal Equinox where His resurrection was commenced 3 days after His demise by rolling away a boulder from his tomb and proclaiming that the God has risen).

Oh, and don't forget that we Pagans celebrate Yule at the Winter Solstice!

Posted by: Wade | Nov 12, 2009 11:12:30 AM

At the beginning of the clip, the guy says: "Today we take you to a place where money is no object, where fantasy becomes reality, and where any wish can come true." It sounds like a sales ad for a religious organization. Something like this:

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY . . . where fantasy becomes reality.
Send us a generous donation today, and all your prayer wishes can come true.

Posted by: Richard Rush | Nov 12, 2009 11:30:41 AM

I think the so-called "War On Xmas" is a good opportunity for us to connect the dots for the American public. It shows just how fully these groups would like to control ALL of our lives, if left to their own devices.

Personally, I spend thousands of dollars every year on Xmas, on Chanukah, and on my friends/family who celebrate a non-religious holiday season. I find it so thoroughly offensive for them to suggest that a Christ-based holiday is the only one that we celebrate every December. I'm fairly confident that many people do, or at least would if they thought about it a little more fully.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Nov 12, 2009 11:36:53 AM

Ugh. The reason for saying "Happy Holidays" is because that time of the year, many people are celebrating holidaySSSSS, plural with an "S".

It's inclusive to mean Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Hanukkah, etc., not to mention all the other things that we do that time of year!

I have no problem saying Merry Christmas... ON Christmas!

Posted by: Bearchewtoy75 | Nov 12, 2009 12:17:00 PM

I'm sorry ... I'm still just trying to process the possibility that a Redwings-Pens marriage can succeed.

Posted by: Jon F | Nov 12, 2009 1:25:07 PM

I am going to be the dissenter, I guess.

I don't think that it is "inclusive" to disassociate Christmas events, celebrations, or trappings from the Christian religion, tradition, and even name. In fact, I think that it is offensive and deliberately exclusive.

That isn't to say that we cannot celebrate and honor more than one holiday at this season. I think it is also offensive to Hanukkah to diminish it to an adjunct of the "holiday season". And while I don't think that I personally know anyone who observes Kwanzaa, I would happily join in lighting a kinara.

"Happy Holidays" is fine with me if you want to be inclusive. But in most communities, "Merry Christmas" is not only more relevant but more respectful of the culture and heritage of the people in the community.

And sometimes the steps taken go beyond exclusion to downright rude.

Calling a Christmas tree a "holiday tree"? That is a deliberate insult. And Santa Dreidels? Just how much of a slap in the face is that to Jews?

** side story, I once told off some poor salesclerk in a Macy's because their menorahs were hidden mixed into a big Christmas display and it was right in the middle of Hanukkah. Extremely disrespectful and I'm sure Mr. Macy would not have approved. **

And it is not offensive to wish people a merry Christmas, even if a few of them do no observe that holiday. (While I'm at it, here's wishing that Hanukkah be a joyous celebration of the miraculous in your life, regardless of your religious affiliation). Even if we do not believe the religious teachings of various faiths, we can still appreciate a wish for merriment, a hope for peace.

And let's face it, if virtually everyone in a community shares a Christian heritage (which is more than a few communities), to remove any reference to that heritage is an offense. It really is.

In this country we honor the heritage of our immigrants. I appreciate and respect the culture of the Filipinos in whose community I live. I delight in my city's many ethnic cultural events, and I enjoy the fact that I live in the only city in the world in which all forms of Buddhism are observed.

But I refuse to believe that when it comes to culture and tradition, we get to make an exception for Christian culture or tradition. That everyone EXCEPT Christians have a right to their holidays, traditions, culture, and celebration.

Christmas is my heritage, theologically, culturally, and traditionally.

And while I have no desire to make anyone else observe it, no one is entitled to take it away from me.

Posted by: Timothy Kincaid | Nov 12, 2009 3:44:50 PM

Timothy: Just to clarify my personal position: I absolutely wish people a "Merry Christmas," "Happy Chanukah," or whatever, based on what I know about them. And I agree 100% that things like a "holiday tree" are just silly. But there is a big difference between personal salutations and a company's desire to use "Happy Holidays," a phrase that has been used in society for generations now.

In my house, we put up a CHRISTMAS tree (my Jewish hubby's favorite activity of the year). During Chanukah, we jointly light the Menorah and say the prayers. We get and give gives for both occasions. But when we send out cards, we send out Holiday cards, reflecting the many different ways that one celebrates the winter season. To me, that's kid of how retailers should do it, with catalogs being kind of a "card" that they send to their broad customer base. I think they should absolutely label the wears appropriately, be they mangers, menorahs, kinaras, or whatever.

But the bottom line for me [and yes I understand I'm being egocentric, but it's my site so deal ;-)]: I don't understand where the offense lies in the "Happy Holidays" wording. It's perfectly understandable, even if it's not the way you might conduct your business.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Nov 12, 2009 4:08:36 PM

My cards tend to be selections that include obvious Christmas Cards, those more generic Happy Holidays ones for the non-religious of my friends, and usually some blue and silver selections for my Jewish friends. (thanks, Costco)

But I get it that folks get annoyed when what is obviously a Christmas ornament for a Christmas tree is called something else. When page after page of a catalog that is trying to sell products that are directly tied to Christmas ritual and tradition are absent of the word "Christmas".

I do think that FOTF goes overboard, as they always do. A "holiday" catalog that includes Christmas language and also Hanukkah language would not be offensive.

But they have a point. Mostly it's just Christmas marketing with the word "Christmas" replaced. And rather than being inclusive, it's offensive.

Posted by: Timothy Kincaid | Nov 12, 2009 4:21:02 PM

Is there one man working for a Religious Right organization that doesn't set off everybody's Holiday Gaydar?


Do any of the fundamentalists ever look at their leaders and go "Whoa, Mary..."?

Inquiring minds.

Okay, as to the topic: I have a client base of 1500, and they are of all nationalities/religions/lacks-thereof, and I have a pretty strict policy of keeping it very general in my holiday marketing e-mails, etc. If one or two victim-mentality fundamentalists don't call me to order because they're hitting the fainting couch over me not mentioning Christmas, then so be it. I pretty much know the religious affiliation of most of my clients (nature of the South), but I'd rather keep it general than accidentally forget that Babs Rosenberg (not a real client of mine) is actually not Jewish, but rather Southern Baptist and screw up by wishing her a happy Hanukkah. Also, I'm staying true to my own beliefs, which are "non," by celebrating the spirit of the season without pretending I'm wearing bells waiting for Santa to come and save me from my sins. (Because seriously, Christmas is about whatever you want it to be. It's a pagan holiday, dressed up in Christian clothing, and it's currenting maxing out its credit card at the Gap to the auto-tune of Celine Dion singing Jingle Bells or something.)

So...whatever. As usual with fundamentalists, it's just something for them to whine about and for us to make fun of.

Posted by: Break the Terror (Evan) | Nov 13, 2009 3:18:03 AM

Oh, and the part where Stuart says that Jesus makes people feel uncomfortable in the best pay possible:

Also gay.

Posted by: Break the Terror (Evan) | Nov 13, 2009 3:20:51 AM

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