Sunday, December 26, 2010

Did Something Important Happen Yesterday?

Oh yeah. Xmas.

This week has mostly been a reminder of how much I've forgotten Xmas.

Case in point: I'm spending my winter vacation mostly with my parents, who celebrate Xmas. I was shocked when my stepmom asked, "So what are you going to fix for Xmas dinner?" (Since I'm cooking kosher in their house.) My brain completely fried for that instant, thinking "Wait. What? Oh yeah."

Second case in point: I sat down to write a few days' worth of blog posts, and I scheduled a post for 12/25/10 without at all realizing the importance of that date. I only did a double take because I had to remember that I don't schedule blog posts for Shabbat!

For those of you who have positive Xmas experiences, I'm not sure whether this is good news or bad news. But yes, over time, this season will have less meaning for you, and your Jewish memories will overpower your prior holiday associations.

As for something more substantive, why do you see Jews referring to Christmas only as "Xmas"? In a somewhat funny twist of fate, the Jews are removing the Christ from Christmas by saying "Xmas." At least, that's how it was explained to me. And that's what makes me feel more comfortable now. And for your pleasure, here is a picture of a trend I found in a small Southern town that hoped to put the Christ back in Xmas decorations!


  1. I think the substitution of 'X' is an attempt to avoid pronouncing/writing the name of an idol. The very idea of worshipping a human being is deep anathema to any traditional Jewish thinking and sentiment. Jewish law forbids not only foreign worship, but any benefit or other use of such activity. And so, the deeply rooted rejection and avoidance of anything associated with Christianity.

    I am purposely avoiding the nuanced discussion of whether or not the halacha necessarily categorizes Christianity as forbidden 'foreign worship' (worship of other than God). Far greater authorities still debate the extent and subtleties of the issue. But it is clear that it is completely forbidden for a Jew, and that is the root of our visceral response to so many things Christian. That's without even adding in how Jews were treated in so many Christian countries over history. I knew Jews from eastern Europe who remembered the local priests inciting their congregants to violence on Easter and Christmas. Those were times that Jews hid indoors.

  2. Chavi, personally I'd be interested in seeing you and Chaviva (who blogged about her sentiments and nostalgia for the family associations with Christmas) treat this topic further. Really. On the one hand, there are the things I briefly mentioned above. On the other hand, there is the reality that America has provided a mostly different social and religious experience than other places. Someone converting in this day and age has the same obligations as before; but a different set of experiences leading into it all. I suspect that in the realms of thought and sentiment there are deep things to be said that born Jews like myself don't perceive or understand very readily. And someone considering conversion may not anticipate.

  3. Chavi,

    I just found your blog. I can identify with a lot of what you write about.

    I, however, was born Jewish, but am just finding my way into the faith. And, am trying to become as observant as possible. (Not always easy).

    Hasya Ya'ara

  4. Hasya Ya'ara: That's wonderful! Bechatzlacha, and I wish you strength and peace!

    Rabbi Scher: I'd be very interested in talking to you further about what kinds of topics you mean! And your explanation was very apt; I should have explained further what I meant so that others might not misunderstand my statement.

  5. Actually, I'm not sure writing Xmas is really better than Christmas (which I touched on briefly in my own blog last week) after reading that "...the "X" comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός, translated as "Christos." or

    Personally, I think it's okay to respect our families that are observing Christmas (in whatever way they are) and that the letter substitution--especially considering its origins--isn't really necessary.

  6. The thing that makes me upset is that christians force there christmas on me. Clearly, throughout history and now christians don’t give a hoot about how other people feel about be told merry christmas when THEY KNOW I am Jewish.

    It is not like I run around screaming Happy New Year on Rosh Hashanah.

    It is a promotion of the Anti-Semitism and forced assimilation that the America negatively sustains.


  7. I think it's rude and disrespectful to write "Xmas" instead of "Christmas" or "Xtians" instead of "Christians."

    As noted above, using "X" doesn't actually remove the reference to the word "Christ." Even if it did, it strikes me as incredibly disrespectful to try to take the religious figure out of another religion's holiday. Why would Jews, or anyone else, think for even a second they had a right to try to do that?