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Your Opinion

OK, quick question for Gentle Readers:

The sun has gone down, here in the Nexus of Nutmeg, and that means that Chanukah is ovah.

Now, my employer has decked our hall with boughs of pine, and cones, and ribbons, and bells, and stocking hung by the elevator shaft with care. Oh, and nutcrackers. But also with mylar dreidels and cardboard menorahs. And lights and snowmen and poinsettias and Snoopy in a Santa hat. You know. It’s festive.

As I mentioned before, Chanukah is over. Done. Forty-four candles burnt to nothing; no candles left. Tonight I will pack up the dreidels and the Woolworth’s Menorah and all the Chanukah books and crafts, and I won’t bring them out until next December. Should I suggest taking down the Chanukah decorations at my place of employment as well?

Look, everybody knows that the decorations are up as a sop to multiculturalism, so that we won’t look like we’ve forgotten that there are Jews around, even in December. We put them up when we put up the rest of the winter decorations. And most of the other decorations are winter decorations, rather than explicitly Christmas decorations; sure there’s a tree and the stockings, but the snowmen and poinsettias and snowflakes are pretty much just wintery. On the other hand, they will all come down on January Third, or at any rate sometime that first week in January rather than hanging around until February or March. So nobody is fooled.

And on one level, when I see a Winter Festivity display that still has the mylar dreidels two full weeks after Chanukah is over, I don’t feel at all that my feelings as a Jew have been taken into account. I mean, at that point they might as well just put up Purim scrolls and masks, right? The message is we don’t really know anything about Chanukah, but we’ve heard it’s the Jewish Christmas. So my inclination is to take ‘em down tonight, or over the weekend at the latest.

On the other hand, it is extra work and annoyance for those of us who do the putting up and taking down of seasonal decorations. And, at our house, we do leave our magnificent glass-and-bronze Menorah out all year round as an awbjay. It’s not like there’s something distasteful or disrespectful about a mylar dreidel on Asara B’Tevet. And next year Chanukah won’t be over until sundown on December 28th. But in 2013, Chanukah will be over for three week when they finally box up the dreidels, unless something is done to change the way we do things. Which, again, wouldn’t be so bad, would it?

So, here’s the question: For GRs who are Jewish, how do you feel about the cardboard menorahs on the post-Chanukah pre-Christmas stretch? For GRs who aren’t, how would you feel about the yidn taking their mylar dreidles and going home on the tenth?

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

Comments

I was thinking along these same lines earlier today when reading a news article about things Congress was hoping to vote on "before they break for the holidays". Perhaps they mean Christmas and Kwanzaa?


People don't put their Christmas decorations in boxes on Boxing Day; why do Chanukah decorations have to be hidden away as soon as the holiday ends?

Personally, I'm accepting the modern world and switching over to lighting my menorah in binary. Chanukah now lasts through next August, yo. Word.


To me the whole "holiday" meshugas is absurd, but the particular absurdity that you point to bothers me less than many parts. Of course, I'm not an observant Jew and, while I occasionally light candles and say prayers at Chanukah with family, I didn't this year; I was aware this year of when Chanukah was because we got a present for my little nephew, but some years I'm not even sure what day it ended.

I also think it's interesting that in the typical institutional holiday display you mention, the Christmas stuff tends to reference the secular side -- Santa, trees, bells; no creches -- while the Chanukah stuff does include menorahs, which seems out of whack somehow.

Lastly, spell-check suggests that a potential correction for "meshugas" above is "messiahs".


As for Congress votes "before the holidays," while for some it would be a euphemism for Christmas (and/or Kwanzaa, perhaps), I suspect there are at least a few non-Christmas/Kwanzaa observers in the pack, and for them it would mean "before the winter vacation," which is in fact what holiday displays represent for me, personally, at any rate. It's not like anyone displays anything related to my personal belief system (except to the extent that I believe Santa Claus is a Modern American god of commerce).

I would say to the extent that you are offended by Chanukah decorations up after Chanukah, that is the extent to which you should mention it.

peace


Mmmf. My workplace put up a tree and lights and holly recently, and didn't even make a bow toward Chanukah or Kwanzaa or any other celebration. I realize that where I am is much more monocultural than southern California was, but I'm still shocked at the casual assumption that we can get away with commemorating only the Christian holidays.

But I realize that's not your question. If we had such a multi-cultural display, would I feel miffed if the Jewish folks took their stuff down when Chanukah ended? Enh--yeah, probably. The display is a reminder, not active place of celebration or thoughtful worship. It's a commemoration that all of us are coming to the end of the year, and many of us have belief systems with celebrations near this time, or just want to have some cheer in a bleak season. It's an active attempt to make a place for everyone at the same time. Removing the Chanukah stuff would send the message "We are not part of this, we don't want to be remembered. Go ahead and be mono-cultural."

I am *assuming* that this is a display in a public, non-religious place, of course, like the library or a hotel lobby. At a multi-faith, religious center, it would be different; there I would expect the display to be relevant to the faithful who were celebrating at the time.


The space is semi-public; it's the library of a private university (with a Public Mission!), and is much more like a shop than a Town Hall. There would be no legal problem with us displaying religious stuff if we want to, although of course there are a variety of issues involved.

It is also a university where pretty close to a third of the student body are Jews, and it's in a town with seven shuls. So, you know, lots of people know when Chanukah is, and when it's over. On the other hand, I noticed that the twelve-foot outdoor menorah on campus was still lit this morning, so I suppose we are in keeping with the rest of the school.

Oh, and Michael—it's my understanding that Christians who don't take down their decorations by Epiphany are subject to the interdict. No?

Thanks,
-V.


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