CHANUKAH: A DEEPER LOOK
Besides this Saturday night being my next stand-up show, it is also the first night of Chanukah. I thought id take this time to break down what Chanukah is all about. Some fears and questions you might have. And I don’t mean in a religious way, I mean like “Hey Marc, ive been hearing bout this Chanukah for years and have questions…REAL questions. Give me the straight dope, yo” And that was from a PRIEST..so I could imagine what the layman must think. But seriously..its a great celebration but it’s also the most ambigious of the Jewish holidays. Maybe you know this, and maybe some of this has been covered but has it ever been covered for free?? On a blog?!?! (Um..yeah..probably) Oh..i see. Well here it is anyway. Just be warned, after this, you’ll never look at Chaunkah the same way again and your life will changed irrevocably! Or maybe not. This is just a blog.
“How is it supposed to be spelled? Ive seen it spelled 14 different ways. I haven’t seen this many spellings since that thanksgiving special on Tori and Dean!!”
Look..im right there with you. And im here to tell you..there IS no right way to spell it. I’ve seen it spelled with an H (Hanukah)..seen it with TWO h’s (Hanukahh) Even with two K’s (Hanukkah) Of course. my favorite way..with a C. Hell…ive even seen it spelled with a “Y” and 4 F’s but that was by my great Uncle Saul at a dinner in 1983 and it turns out he was suffering at the time from salmonella he got from a bad batch of Gefilte Fish. (Serves him right, really..i mean..quick aside..but gefilte fish? Really? Is this not the most disgusting food in the history of man..or fish..or gefiltes? Seriously..it smells like a rotting yak and has the texture of a slimy, dwarf brain. It looks like Purina wanted to make cat food but thought “No..cats would never eat something so grotesque..lets give it to those weird jews”. But no, chosen people…let’s EAT this. Great idea. No thanks.)
So..the point is..there is no RIGHT way..spell it how you want. Its freestyle. However, i still think we should get together and vote on one uniform way and stick with it. Its kinda embarrassing we cant get our stories straight. I know there are abbreviations in other faiths but you would never see a card that says “MERRY KRYSSMIS!!!”
WHY IS IT 8 NIGHTS?
“Seriously, we get it..you like gifts. Stop rubbing it in.”
Well..the real abridged story is the Maccabees only had one day of oil in their temple..but it miraculously lasted for 8 days…and that’s why we celebrate with the Menorah. (A close second to this story is the time in college when my friend had one bud of weed left that should have lasted us one more go-around and it somehow kept burning throughout the night. This wont be remembered in history but for all those who were there, we’ve never forgotten it. To commemorate it, on that day every year, we all burn our thumbs with a lighter to relive that miracle.) So..its a long holiday and its kinda lost its cache a bit as an adult. As a kid though…8 nights of gifts! What a sweet setup! Times have changed obviously but my mom STILL tries to get a gift for me EVERY night. No matter how small, G-d bless her. The greatest example was one year, she knew I liked the show Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Screw you..it was a really good show) “Happy 3rd night of Chanukah ” she exclaimed! And folks, I kid you not, she got me..no joke..a Buffy The Vampire Slayer locker mirror!! Now, the thought was there behind it, of course..but no way in hell was I putting up a Buffy The Vampire Slayer mirror in my locker. Also, I was 27 at the time and hadn’t had a locker in 10 yrs…ya know..cause..I wasn’t in high school anymore. And again..i was 27 yrs old. I was also a guy. It was awkward. If the Maccabees knew this type of thing would happen..they probably would have snuffed out the oil/lights after the 2nd day and been like “ya know what, we’re good. Let’s just sit in the dark a while”
But here we are…8 long days…which leads to the next question…and possibly one of the most perplexing..
WHEN THE HELL IS CHANUKAH AND HOW COME IT CHANGES EVERY YEAR?
“Are you guys making this up as you go along?”
Well actually NO, smarty pants…Chanukah runs on the JEWISH calendar which is much much older and a little different. (we have to deal with that lousy SMARCH weather. I hate that month) so that’s what accounts for the way it shows up differently every year. And look..i admit it..its frustrating. That’s why I booked my show on the 8th. I didn’t KNOW that was the first night of Chanukah. It makes scheduling difficult for sure. I wish it was like Christmas where you KNOW it’s ALWAYS the 25th and can plan accordingly. But nooooo…it slides all over the place. I think it hurts Chanukah..i really do. I think if it had its set place on the calendar..people would respect it more. Instead people balk at it..ESPECIALLY when it overlaps with Christmas. I feel the most apt analogy is this. You know those cute Youtube videos that people post where they’ll have this giant Rottweiller and then they’ll also have this little beagle puppy and they film the puppy attacking/playing with the Rottweiller with reckless abandon. And the Rottweiller is playing too but has that look on its face like “look..this is fun..I like you, puppy but you know I can kill you if I wanted to, right? Settle down and we’ll eventually get along fine.” That’s how I see it with these two holidays. Chanukah is the puppy, fun and great but all wacky and all over the place…and the Christmas Rottweiller is like “Hey Chanukah..cut the shit! I like you as a holiday but stop moving around like a maniac so we can get an understanding between us, ya dig?.” (Note: Marc thinks Rotweillers talk like freaky beatniks) And that brings us to..
CHRISTMAS AND CHANUKAH
“Is there a happy medium?”
The answer is..OF COURSE there is. Im not even going to get into the religious aspect cause Xmas has more significance in that area. Our holy days hit more in the fall. Im talking about from the KIDS angle. Growing up. Some of the best people I know are in interfaith marriages and frankly..for the kids…cant you see an upside?? Get the best of BOTH worlds. Look I loved/love Chanukah…but oh man..would I have loved the feeling of running down the stairs to see presents under the tree on Xmas morning? Of course! Did I miss out on believing in Santa and then having my innocence crushed by seeing my dad delivering my presents dressed as a Santa with no pants at 1am in the morning? You betcha! Those emotional scars can never be mimicked in the Jewish faith.
But would I trade it? No way. Like I said..EIGHT nights of presents. I got some of my seminal and historical favorite material things of ALL TIME for Chanukah. Wrestling figures, my first Nintendo, my first Big Wheel, numerous electric racetracks that lasted AT least 3 hours before breaking, my first pencil holder (which was really my first bong until my mom realized it wasn’t a pencil holder and returned it. Needless to say, my 2nd grade teacher still thinks i was high for every storytime. “Mrs Perrich..this story is boring..when is it time for cookies?” “Pipe down, Johnny AppleWEED”.), No..i would never have traded that incredible anticipation of a gift every night. No way.
What else? Well..Christmas has the Christmas tree..but we have the menorah which mainly was my first introduction to FIRE..and damnit if I havent been burning things ever since! Yes..it was MENORAHS that were the cause of my borderline dark obsession with fire. So thanks, Jewish Fire Torch. Lets not forget the Dreidel. Not only does it spin like a political news channel, but did you know its REALLY the equivalent of jewish dice for a gambling game? Im dead serious. Look it up if you don’t believe me. (What a breakthrough this post has been. I just realized that Chanukah and my faith has turned me into the cynical, degenerate, gambling arsonist ive grown up to become and that I LOVE that it has. Moses must be turning over in his ark. (Note: Marc flunked Hebrew School)
So there ya have it..an in-depth look at Chanukah. The stuff they don’t tell you about in your fancy textbooks…and fancy..uh…tea parties. (I have no idea what people of today DO)
Hope that helps. Either way…whatever you celebrate..have a great one! And who knows, maybe ill see you at my next AA meeting. (Arsonists Anonymous)