Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011

A Christmas Alternative

Until the 19th century, Hanukkah was, as one blogger put it, the religious equivalent of Flag Day. ("Not even the Zionists make a fuss about Chanukah," wrote a reporter for the American Jewish Chronicle in 1916.) But as Christmas gained popularity in the U.S., rabbis started giving the holiday more attention in an attempt to prevent their congregations from being distracted by the Christian holiday hubbub. In recent decades, the holiday has inspired movies (the animated feature film Eight Crazy Nights), TV plot lines (the so-called "Chrismukkah" episode of The O.C.) and ditties including Adam Sandler's enduring classic "The Hanukkah Song" and a bizarrely earnest pop ballad by a Mormon, Orrin Hatch — the Republican Senator from Utah.