Merry Christmas?

Samantha Suman

News Editor

It is the morning after Thanksgiving and already the Christmas bombardment begins. You barely have enough time to say your last “Happy Thanksgivikkah!” before you hear “Merry Christmas!”

From songs to decorations and recipes, LA has turned into the North Pole.  You can’t go to the mall without spotting a giant Christmas tree covered in glistening ornaments, or Santa on his sleigh offering pictures to the youngsters who ask for presents galore. This winter wonderland world is tempting, and we Angelinos can not imagine the winter season without Christmas.

However, as Jews living in this cultural hub, how are we supposed to react to the Christmas overload?

Christmas was originally a holiday that purely celebrated the birth of Jesus. When the Dutch came to America in the 17th century, the idea of Santa Clause was invented. Since then, St. Nicholas’s story has been expanded to cookie eating and, of course, magic elves making toys for all of the good girls and boys.

Christmas has transformed from a religious holiday to a huge marketing campaign. From Black Friday to Cyber Monday to Christmas Eve shopping, Christmas has provided many stores the opportunity to make an immense amount of money. Very rarely does one think of the religious meaning behind Christmas when it is covered by superfluous decorations and presents. If Christmas now has so many elements far from its original intentions, can we Jews celebrate this holiday too?

“I do not celebrate Christmas because I believe that since the holiday’s roots are Christian, Jews do not have an obligation or place to celebrate it,” Anna Stern ’14 said.

Although Milken is a Jewish school, many students and faculty celebrate Christmas.

“In my family, the holiday season has always meant a Christmas tree and a hannukiah standing side by side,” an anonymous student said. “Of course, the actual intent of the holiday contradicts Judaism, but the form of my family’s Christmas festivities is not distinctly Christian and has many parallels with Jewish celebrations.”

Others do not have a problem with adopting elements of a secular Christmas.

“I listen to Christmas music, I participate in Secret Santa with my sport teams and friends, and of course I drink seasonal drinks from Starbucks,” Sammy Zucker 15’ said. “I think it is okay, actually very Jewish, to appreciate other religions. It’s not like I celebrate the birth of Jesus, I just like the Christmas lights and jingles.”

Forgetting the religious and secular component of the holiday, Christmas encourages another aspect: the idea of helping those less fortunate. This is not exclusively a Christian idea, nor is it exclusively Jewish. Charity is a universal idea in which everyone can participate. Whether you celebrate the holiday by going to church, or by eating Chinese food and going to the movies, giving is something we all can and should do.

“Christmas causes the country to give and volunteer. While social action should be emphasized during the whole year, I really like how giving is generalized as part of the ‘holiday spirit’,” Stern said.

Regardless of how you spend your time this winter season, the Roar family would like to wish you happy holidays!