Navigate to News section

Is Jewish Christmas Better Than Actual Christmas?

Christmas envy may be a thing of the past

Rachel Silberstein
December 24, 2013


This week, Marc Tracy, Tablet’s former Scroll-master, meditates on his love affair with Jewish Christmas in The New Republic. Yup, it’s a thing now.

To begin with, Tracy notes that Jews are not excluded from enjoying the aesthetic elements of the season–the smell of pine, the snowflakes, and the festive carols (all composed by Jews, of course). But then he takes it a step further, arguing that the sacred Jewish rituals that have evolved in the X-mas void, along with a lack of familial obligations, make Christmas the most gratifying of all Jewish holidays. No matter how you spend the 25th of December, between the bare streets, ubiquitous Chinese food, and raucous matzo ball mega parties, there really is no better day of the year to reflect on what it is to be a Jew in America. Tracy writes:

For American Jews, Christmas is a day to wallow in difference without being threatened. At its worst, such an identity-holiday can be a theme-park ride, a shallow and consumerist experience—which, ironically, is exactly what many devout Christians fear the day has become. But with a little work, it can be much more meaningful. As American Jews recline in their seats at the cinema, awaiting the previews, mourning their decision to eat those extra two egg rolls, they can find themselves reflecting not just on the fact of their difference, but on the substance of it, and what about it they treasure. It’s almost religious.

Not feeling Jewish Christmas yet? This old SNL anthem might help.

Rachel Silberstein is a writer living in New York.

Join Us!

All of Tablet’s latest stories—in your inbox, daily. Subscribe to our newsletter.

Please enter a valid email
Check iconSuccess! You have subscribed to the Tablet newsletter.