Word of the day. Oy Shit
I would be surprised to find one Jew in America who has not, at somepoint in the last few days since Thanksgiving NOT looked at a calendar and said “Oh SHIT! Hanukkah starts WHEN??? Or some version there off, shit being a Yiddish word for dang.
Yeah.. that would be Wednesday, as in tomorrow.
I haven’t even finished the damned Thanksgiving leftovers.
Lunar calendars suck, explains why the rest of the world switched a long time ago. Clearly we need that Adar II or as we Jews refer.. leap MONTH. When you’re timing stuff by the moon, you’ll find Hanukkah in the summer in no time unless you periodically add a month.
Lemmie clear up a thing or two about the festival of lights for my non-Jewish friends. Every year I get asked lots of questions about this holiday, and oddly never one about Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashanah. Here’s the greatest hits FAQ from your old pal Sank.
- First, the single most common question I get about Hanukkah; Don’t you give your kids a present every night?
- No. For a couple reasons. A few hundred years ago no one got gifts for Hanukkah, they got some coins and fried food. DONE. Oh, and they learned how to make odds on a spinning top. The whole gift thing got out of control the year after the Macy’s made the Christmas gift thing spin out of control. Keeping up with the Jones’s you know. We don’t give gifts every night because Mrs S does not like to drag out the whining and begging. We pick a night and do some gifts and potato pancakes, eat some jelly donunts from Fishman’s and call it a festival. In my youth I got to open 7 packs of socks and underwear every night for a week until the last night when I got something I was interested in. Didn’t make feel all that special, nor reinforced the idea of MIRACLE.
- Are you taking time off for Hanukkah?
- Nope. I’m taking time off for Christmas.. because I can. Ha.
In the pantheon of Jewish Religious observances Hanukkah is right up there with Purim and Jewish Arbor Day. It’s proximity to Christmas makes a lot of people blow it WAAAY out of proportion. Interesting story- when my grandparents immigrated to the United States in 1900 they were sort of “adopted” by a gentile neighbor in their Fort Worth home. They learned that Americans put up Christmas trees and did so for years and years. You see, they emigrated from Syria and as such had no real exposure to Christian holidays. They really thought it was an American deal, and when the kids got older and knew what was going on.. never said a word and why would they? Who doesn’t like presents. Of course I would drop dead before I’d do a Christmas tree now.. which answers the next question-
- Do you put up a Hanukkah Bush?
- NO. That would be called a Christmas tree. And the answer is NO. I’d have to move.
- Do you do anything special?
- Why yes. Hanukkah celebrates a miracle after all, and to commemorate the miracle we do light our hanukkiah every night. BTW.. it’s not a menorah it’s a hanukkiah, next time you’re having a beer with a Jewish friend, you can use that bit of trivia to win a round. Almost always works. It’s traditional to eat some fried foods, soofganyot being the traditional pastry. You can get them at a kosher market for about $104.40 a dozen. The annual Hanukkah challenge, put 3 $3.00 soofganyot and 3 regular $.50 jelly donuts from Cub in a bag and see who can tell the difference. The answer? The guy who had to shelp through damn snow to FIshman’s Kosher Market in St. Louis Park after work during a snow storm to get them? No. Not even him. Believe me I know. Good thing I saved the box last from last year, they’ll never know. However corned beef and knishes.. worth the trip right there.
- We also do some game night and hang out.. Fun isn’t really in our repertoire, BUT the Timberwolves, the local NBA franchise is hosting Jewish Heritage night next week. I’m at a loss to understand how you show that you are Jewish to get a discounted ticket. I had an idea, but Mrs S assured me that would not be the case, we have gone to such great lengths in the more liberal Jewish community to get to gender equality and all.
- What did you get your wife?
- Why does this come up all the time? BTW this is a gender linked trait. Women around the office, in social circles are fascinated for some reason to learn what men other than their husbands get their wives as gifts. Benchmarking me thinks. Well, this is exactly the sort of keeping up with the Jones’s or Schwartz’s as the case may be that has turned this little festival, a festival not all that popular with Talmudic Rabbi’s BTW due to its military connections, into the Jewish Christmas.
Fact is, I don’t know what I’m getting her because it was just this afternoon that I, yes I the most organized man I know looked at the calendar and said those fateful words,
“She-IT, Hanukkah starts WHEN?”