The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Jews for Christmas

    I'm not a Christian, but like many Jews, I've envied Christmas since childhood. I like the twinkly lights, pink-cheeked carolers, heartwarming television specials, and exuberantly ho-ho-ho-ing Santa Clauses ... pretty much everything except the endless renditions of "Jingle Bells" warbling from every audio speaker in the country.

    Most of all, I love the spirit of good will associated with Christmas -- smiles from strangers, charitable giving and other acts of kindness. We Jews have a holiday called Purim for spreading joy and charity, but Purim also involves raucously cheering the murder of 75,000 Persians, which is somewhat low on the good will meter.

    In recent years, however, I've been dismayed that the Christmas spirit I admire has come under attack. Angry people have been exploiting the holiday as an opportunity to vilify their opponents. Vilifying opponents is also low on the good will meter, albeit not as low as murdering Persians.

    Read the full story at


    It looks like, in keeping with the holiday spirit, and to foster ecumenical good will, Christians and Jews are about to join together to murder Persians.

    And what's this dreidel doing in my stocking? I asked for a 3-D flatscreen, dammit! I'm giving Santa a week to get his act together, or I'm slapping him with a torte case.

    I nearly forgot: Bah, humbug!

    Torte case?

    I am always reminded of an Emily Litella commentary by all of the war on "the war on Christmas" stuff.

    Look, we can solve this by wishing O'Reilly and all and sundry

    A Merry Yule!

    Those of us trained in Christian practice know all devout Christians know the truth about all of this, that Easter is their real big important holyday of joy, and December 25 is just a very nice joyous ancient celebration shared by a lot of religions and cultures, most of them not Christian.

    Furthermore, except for a few really fundie Christians, Christians don't begrudge people who celebrate December 25 with merriment but instead, like that pope in the 4th century who decided it was the right thing to do, good Christians join in that celebration with good will, using it to adorate a joyous concept of the portents of the newborn baby Jesus, instead of contemplating slaughtering December 25 celebrants because they are mostly pagans.

    Same goes for the Christian cranks who whine about all the gift giving and partying frenzy making it too commercial and not about baby Jesus.

    To them and the war on war on Christmas folks, the rest of us should all wish the blessings of the Yule (including most notably getting and giving stuff,) saying "we are not daily beggars that beg from door to door but we are friendly neighbours whom you have seen before," and sing

    "Love and joy come to you,
    And to you your wassail too;
    And God bless you and send you
    a Happy New Year"

    Wassailing, yes, and Up Helly Aa too.


    Genghis, extremely well written, concise, and a credit to Dagblog.

    I guess this had better work.

    Genghis, I have no idea why the first image that came to mind was the old SNL skit where Dan Akroyd's Nixon tells John Belushi's Kissinger to pray with him: "On you knees, Jewboy!" or something like that. O'Reilly et al's annual Christmas air raid sirens are part and parcel of the fear mongering that fuels extremist social issues within the conservative movement. "Paranoia runs deep, into your heart it will creep."

    Christmas is pretty awesome. A little more reasoning why:


    My favorite part of any Christmas pageant.  I still get goosebumps at this part:

    And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 

    Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men

    Hark!  The Herald Angels Sing*

    *Technical difficulties embedding.

    Thanks, Donal

    Is my absolute #1 favorite too. And hearing a large choir do it in person is earth shaking---Ode to Joy territory.

    Yes.  It was always part of Robert Shaw's Atlanta Symphony Chorus's Christmas program.  Recordings are just not the same.

    Christmas of course benefits from centuries of contributions in song, poetry, iconography and other arts.  It is a highly evolved ritual.  It is a tradition that is ignorant of most ethnic and national boundaries.  I experienced it as a Roman Catholic and it would never have occurred to me to exclude anyone from the sentiment or the sentimentality of the season.  To me the most amazing quality of this tradition is the way it elevates the lowest to the highest.  The story of Bethlehem, the stable – the whole formula reverses for a moment the hierarchy of life and its obsessions.  The poorest Christmas display is as poignant and beautiful as the most ostentatious, gold-encrusted crèche presented in some monumental cathedral. 

    There are endless variations on the way in which this tradition is celebrated, but if you want to get an almost lethal dose of Christmas I recommend you find a local Russian Orthodox church and attend the Christmas Eve service.  I found it unforgettable.  Here is just a small example:

    Merry Christmas  

    That variety of Christmas is new to me.  It is wonderful.

    Because of you, I looked up the nearest Russian Orthodox church and was surprised how close it is.  Also, that it is on Campground Road which is sort of amusing. 

    Liked this alot.

    In Abu Dhabi, they're still practicing up on this, haven't got the whole concept quite right yet, but like the saying goes, it's the thought that counts Laughing?

    Too much seasonal spirit: Abu Dhabi hotel 'regrets' £7m Christmas tree

    Emirates Palace hotel has second thoughts over decision to 'overload' tree with diamonds, rubies and other gems

    Tekufat Tevet--

    ....Virtually all cultures have their own way of acknowledging this moment. The Welsh word for solstice translates as “the point of roughness,” while the Talmud calls it “Tekufat Tevet,” first day of “the stripping time.” For the Chinese, winter’s beginning is “dongzhi,” when one tradition is making balls of glutinous rice, which symbolize family gathering. In Korea, these balls are mingled with a sweet red bean called pat jook. According to local lore, each winter solstice a ghost comes to haunt villagers. The red bean in the rice balls repels him.

    In parts of Scandinavia, the locals smear their front doors with butter so that Beiwe, sun goddess of fertility, can lap it up before she continues on her journey. (One wonders who does all the mopping up afterward.) Later, young women don candle-embedded helmets, while families go to bed having placed their shoes all in a row, to ensure peace over the coming year.

    Street processions are another common feature. In Japan....


    Richard Cohen, "There Goes the Sun," New York Times Op-Ed, December 19, 2010

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