A question for Jewish posters regarding Hanukkah and Christmas vacations

I’m not Jewish, but rather I’m more or less Christian- I don’t belong to any religious sect but I had a Christian upbringing and I celebrate Christian Holidays. i’ll confess that it makes me happy when Hanukkah falls the same week as Christmas, because I don’t think it’s fair that schools and some places of business take off one religion’s holidays, but not the other. When they’re at the same time it seems pretty fair, and as I said, that makes me happy. I realize that people could, and often do, arrange to take the week of Hanukkah off, but the default, if there is one, that requires no special arrangements with employers and schools only takes the Christian holidays into account. I don’t know how this could be changed without major accommodations in teaching schedules and so on unfortunately.

Since it’s not my holidays I’m concerned with, I thought I’d ask our Jewish posters what they think of my concern. Do you think I’m silly for worrying about it? Does the fact that school kids get off the week that contains Christmas, despite refering to it as “winter break” fairly often these days, bother you? If it does bother you, what would you like to see happen to make things better? And does it bother you that it bothers me, since it’s “none of my business” given I’m not Jewish?

Didn’t bother me growing up. The two holidays, other than the presents don’t really equate. On the scale of things, Hanukkah is a minor holiday compared to Rosh Hashonnah & Yom Kippur. When I was in school, the school systems where I grew up stayed in session on these days, which WAS annoying. Don’t know if it is national at this point, but the school systems here now are off on those days. I assume the Christian kids feel about the same way I did (free day off from school, yeah!), but I could be wrong.

As far as the business world, can’t say. I became an agnostic during college so I don’t take the days off.



Seriously though, the last employer I worked for allowed you to take those days off if you were Jewish. Didn’t feel right doing it though.

Chanuka’s probably the most minor of all of the holidays. There’s no particular need to take off, unlike by Rosh Hashana, Passover, Shavuot, etc., since it doesn’t particularly take over one’s life - all you have to do are menorah lighting each night and a few extra prayers.
Growing up, I was in Jewish schools where we received midwinter break halfway through the school year (the last week of January), which was great. I never saw a lift line in my life until the time I went skiing in my first year of college, when I had break at the same time as the rest of the country. I also never had a day off for Chanuka - the schools tried to have some special treat or event each day, but classes went on as normal.
It’s very sweet of you to be concerned, but I don’t spend my time worrying about it. The fact that many Jews feel compelled to make a huge deal out of Chanuka in order to compensate for no Christmas bothers me more, honestly. I don’t expect everybody to be off during my holidays, since that gets unweildy pretty quickly. I can’t see employers closing on all of the Jewish holidays (at least 13 days a year for the major days of holidays, more if you count intermediate days, fast days, etc.), Muslim holidays (Eid al-Fitr, anyone?), Hindu holidays, Wiccan holidays, etc. I just want people to be accomodating to me about the days that I need to take off.

When I was studying at Hebrew U., in Jerusalem, we got the first day of Hanukkah off. Woo. Considering we also got a day off for Tisha b’Av, which a lot of Jews probably have never even heard of, this isn’t saying much.

In contrast, we had an entire month off for High Holidays - or rather, school didn’t begin until they were over. (But my fellow international students and I were already there for a summer semester, so it was like getting a huge vacation in the middle of the school year.)

I couldn’t agree more. I wish more people, both Jewish and Gentile, would understand that Hanukkah is not the “Jewish Christmas.” I am non-practicing, but if I were, I’d rather be able to take holiday time at the important holidays, like Passover.

I grew up in northern Virginia. It was a very Christian place. A large crowd of strangers showed up to witness this brit milah thing. The rabbi explained the whole circumcision using large diagrams. Those gentiles who couldn’t attend could read the front page story in the local paper. All the Jewish students (a little under 20 in a high school of 2000 studenst) had to get excused absence notes signed by their parents for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. My Christian classmates had never heard of this thing I called Hannukah.

But, I never wanted days off for Hannukkah. I wanted for people to know what it was. I wanted school displays and assemblies that acknowledged all students’ religions equally.

OTTOMH-The ninth day of the month of Av. Various tragedies in Jewish history happened on this date, including the destruction of The Temple. It’s a fast day.

BTW-Just why is Hannukkah a minor holiday? Doesn’t retaking and rededicating The Temple qualify as major?

DocCathode - It’s minor in that it’s rabbinically mandated, rather than dictated in the Five Books of Moses. It hasn’t got most of the structure that the majors have, such as (nearly) all of the Sabbath restrictions on what one can and can’t do, big family meals, etc.

It and Purim are the two minor holidays, btw. I guess one could say that the event commemorated is major in that it has a permanent holiday, kept by Jews everywhere. (In several millenia of history, there aren’t too many events that get that treatment.) I know that many European Jewish communities had community-wide holidays celebrating a major event in its history (usually when it was saved from destruction), but those were local and have all died out.

And as far as Tisha B’Av goes, I’d rather be off then than for Chanuka, honestly. I’m generally a wreck by the afternoon of the long fast days, and all I want to do is sleep until it’s over. I’m not much good at work.

Agree with everyone else here… Channukah is such a minor no-big-deal holiday, religiously speaking. The commericalization really annoys me. In my family we give some gifts, but, as we say, we’re really celebrating “Festive Commercial Gift-Giving Season” not Channukah itself. When I read about families putting themselves in serious debt for Christmas gift giving, I’m really baffled.

The cool thing is, since I never need Christmas off, I always get Thanksgiving off, and then I can take a few days in the Spring to go home for Passover.

Chanukah has almost no structure. By my count, there’s only four essential points:

  • Lighting the chanukiyah menorah (lit: “Special-for-Chanukah candlestick”) every night.
  • Reciting Psalms 113-118 (the Hallel, psalms of praise) during the morning prayers, as is done on the festivals.
  • Adding a special paragraph during the daily prayers and the grace after meals.
  • Reciting a special selection from Numbers on each day of the festival, and one from the prophets on Shabbat.

[hijack type=“slight”]Interestingly, Independence Day (Yom Ha-atzmaut) only has the Hallel and a special Torah reading. It has even LESS structure than Chanukah![/hijack]

9 Av is not a day to skip work. However, traditionally nothing productive can be accomplished on 9 Av. This isn’t a requirement, just the bad karma of the day.

Well, one should, if possible, avoid work before chatzos (midday) on Tisha B’Av, but it is not an absolute requirement.

I came in to work about 1:00 this past Tisha B’Av.

Zev Steinhardt