The Trailblazer

That “Other” Holiday

Jolie Newman

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Outside the window, snow is falling gently. In the fireplace, logs are burning peacefully. In the house, holiday spirit is wafting gleefully. On the table, a menorah sits, waiting for the celebration of Hanukkah.

That’s right, Hanukkah – I am writing about Hanukkah. There are no stockings hanging above the fireplace. There are no decorations that were probably premature put up outside, turning an ordinary lawn into an eyesore. Instead of writing about Christmas trees, I’m writing about the Maccabees.

In a nutshell, the story of the underappreciated holiday of Hanukkah, or Chanukah, goes a little something like this: Judah Maccabee and his Jewish followers rebelled against a Greek-Syrian king who came to power, and the monarch outlawed Judaism and forced them to worship Greek gods. Basically, the most important part of the story is that after the destruction of a temple, oil for only one day alternatively lasted eight days, hence the miracle of Hanukkah. While there’s plenty more details to the legend, the only important part is the miracle that occurred, since that’s why people get presents.

While some may argue that Hanukkah is a “wannabe” Christmas, it’s so much more than that. Hanukkah gets a very limited amount of representation, despite the fact that a significant portion of students at Pascack Hills High School celebrate the “Festival of Lights,” which is used interchangeably with “Hanukkah/ Chanukah.”

“I know that Christmas is a very important holiday, and I’m not saying that people should not get excited over it,” said Pascack Hills student Maya Schwartz, and observer of the holiday. “But for the people who don’t celebrate it, we can sometimes feel a little bit overlooked or unappreciated.”

The sad truth is that there are no good Hanukkah songs or specials. While classics like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Red- Nosed Reindeer are still iconic in Jewish households who don’t celebrate Christmas, it can also make those people feel a little blue. Hanukkah has a story that deserves to be told just as much as the story behind Christmas.

“I wish people would not get upset with the term ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas,’”said sophomore Jadyn Sullivan, who celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas. “There are so many more holidays that people celebrate than just Christmas.”

Thankfully, there are some who, though they only celebrate Christmas, are still respectful and fascinated by the idea of Hanukkah. Hills Student Sofia Papadopoulos really wants to celebrate Jewish holidays like Hanukkah and join a Seder during Passover. On the first night of Hanukkah, Papadopoulos was excited when she was able to help light her neighbor’s menorah; she thought the event felt “special.”

Any holiday celebrated by all different religions deserves to be acknowledged and respected, no matter the time of year.

Focusing on just the upcoming ones in the winter season, student Eric Traub says, “Both Hanukkah and Christmas represent a good time for family and friends. However, since Christmas is more commercialized than Hanukkah, it gets more attention. I think that both holidays should get equal attention during this holiday season.”

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