This evening, millions of Jews will start celebrating Chanukkah. Many people think that Chanukkah is a major holiday, but in fact it is one of the most minor on the Jewish calendar. Why, then, is it so widely observed, especially by relatively secular Jews? Jealousy. The celebration of Chanukkah as we know it is mainly an American phenomenon; Jewish immigrants saw what great fun Christians had on Christmas (which is mostly a ripoff of pagan traditions, but that’s another story) and wanted in on the action, so they devised their own version.
There’s a common perception among non-Jews that Chanukkah is a sweet holiday, perhaps even better than Christmas: eight nights of presents, exotic food, and games of dreidel. The fact is that Chanukkah doesn’t hold a candle to Christmas, if you’ll pardon the pun. Sure, you get eight presents, but they’re usually cheap and lame; parents often use them as an excuse to give you things they were going to buy you anyway, like socks. Whereas on Christmas you eat awesome food like ham and goose, on Chanukkah you eat Jewish cuisine, which is usually as unappetizing as it sounds. Take gefilte fish, for example; I’d rather eat an aborted orangutan fetus. Finally, dreidel has to be the shittiest game ever invented; it’s basically the equivalent of taking turns flipping a coin.
The most pathetic thing about Chanukkah, however, is the fact that few Jews even know what they’re celebrating. The true story of Chanukkah (not the revisionist popular version) is that of a civil war that took place between Jews living under Syrian rule during the Hellenistic period. On one side were those who had largely assimilated into Greek culture and adoped a modern, liberal value system. On the other side were the Maccabees, a band of fundamentalists who took issue with the lifestyle of their brethren. The Maccabees revolted and scored a victory by brutally murdering and forcibly converting their enemies. Sound familiar? It should; the Maccabees were basically the Taliban of their time. Tonight, Jews across the world will unwittingly celebrate these violent, ignorant assholes. What a disgrace.
But hey, at least it’s not completely made up.