The Dirty Little Secret About Chanukah
Last night was the first night of Chanukah. After lighting the candles, we gave the boys their first present: matching Phineas and Ferb shirts. They were completely and totally… underwhelmed. JSL kept insisting that we were supposed to give them TOYS! Apparently, clothes don’t count.
The thing is, though, you really aren’t supposed to give and get presents on Chanukah. That tradition only formed to appease Jewish kids who were sad seeing their Christian friends getting gift after gift under the Christmas trees. The real traditional activities involve eating fried foods (potato latkes and jelly donuts), gambling (spinning the dreidel and making bets using coins, M&Ms or peanuts) and giving gelt (money).
Jewish kids shouldn’t despair, though, because there is a gift-giving holiday on the Jewish calendar. And it’s much better than Christmas. (No offense to my Christmas celebrating readers.) Purim. First of all, you’re supposed to give and get presents. Secondly, you get dressed in costume (like Halloween). Lastly, you get drunk.1 Yes, you read that right. It’s considered a good thing if you get so drunk that you can’t tell the difference between “blessed is Mordechai” and “cursed is Haman.”2
1 The reason you’re supposed to get drunk is that wine is equated with joy in the Jewish religion. Purim was to be a day when the Jewish people were slaughtered but they were saved. Since we’re so happy that we weren’t all killed, we celebrate. To paraphrase Rabbi Tuckman from Robin Hood: Men in Tights, we celebrate until we get vashnigyered.
2 For those who don’t know the Purim story, Haman is the guy who wanted to kill all the Jews and Mordechai was instrumental in Haman’s downfall.