After the first snowfall this Saturday, Boston is truly beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Christmas season really begins, however, at the turn of November after Halloween, when skeletons and pumpkins are replaced with stockings and twinkle lights. As someone who does not celebrate Christmas, this season has always been rather conflicting for me.
At the core of the holiday, Christmas is a religious celebration of Jesus’ birth, exclusively reserved for Christians to practice. However, society has framed Christmas to be synonymous with winter. Although this perspective seems to make Christmas more inclusive to everyone, it just seems to claim the months leading up to Christmas for those who are intended to celebrate it and make those who don’t feel out of place if they partake in the festivities.
Regardless of one’s faith, everyone loves the Christmas season. But the reason for the unanimity is because of Christmas’s affiliation with joy. This joy is not directly related to the reason of the holiday, either. The Christmas spirit is found in peppermint hot chocolate, gingerbread, and “Jingle Bells,” which are generally and understandably enjoyed by all, but have no direct ties to the real meaning of Christmas. It can be disheartening to partake in the scents, sights and sounds of a season as peaceful as winter, when that season is glorified as one dedicated to a holiday that I don’t celebrate.
As for the holiday I celebrate, Chanukah, it just seems to be tagged along under the umbrella of the P.C. term of “holiday season.” In fact, Chanukah isn’t even the most important holiday of the Judaic calendar. That would be Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It is just the most well-known because it falls around Christmastime. But I don’t expect my holiday to gain popularity or have any more representation other than the occasional “I Have a Little Dreidel” sung by high school choir. I do, however, want more people to recognize the secularity that has pushed “Christmas” and “winter” to be interchangeable because I want to be able to eat advent chocolates and jam out to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” without being asked, “… but aren’t you Jewish?” Yes, I am. But enjoying December means embracing the Christmas spirit and I would love to do that without the encroaching guilt of endorsing a holiday that doesn’t follow my faith.
Regardless of what I do or don’t believe in, I love Christmas, just like everyone else. But I love it for the movies, songs, food and joy that inevitably come with the season. I include myself in such Christmas festivities, but feel like I am excluded by others. And if not by others, then at least by the expectation that I shouldn’t be partaking in the first place. The problem is that these festivities are not religious by any means. They’re fun and wholesome and represent winter, not the birth of Christ. I hope that Christmas can be rebranded to be more distinguished from winter as a whole so that those who don’t celebrate still get all of the fun, but none of the guilt. With that being said, I wish you all a wonderful winter.