One of the interesting side effects of late December is that Jewish Young Adults across the world feel like underdogs when compared to more popular religious and pagan holidays of the season, specifically Christmas and New Years. In order to overcome this disadvantaged emotion, JYAs have resorted to overcompensating the relevance of Hanukah, specifically around Non-Jews.
Hanukah itself is a B-Team holiday when it comes to purely religious doctrine. In the traditional rankings of Jewish Orthodoxy, Hanukah is trumped by Passover, Rosh Hashana, and Yom Kippur. Some argue that even Sukkot and Purim are more relevant than Hanukah, but most would agree that Hannukah is more important than the 17th of Tamuz.
But even considering the second-class nature of the holiday from a religious perspective, JYAs simply cannot resist amplifying the value of Hanukah during yuletide. The situation has become so severe that there have been articles written about the subject, as well as some academic studies. While these studies are interesting, they fail to identify the real reason why JYAs embellish the holiday in that JYAs have an inherent need to feel like they are as important as the Non Jewish counterparts.
Overstating the relevance of Hanukah can take many forms. Typically the JYA will utilize any break in conversation with Non Jews to reiterate how vital the holiday is for the existence of humanity, frequently erroneously. As female JYA “Michelle” stated to her Non Jewish friend “Christine” over coffee, “Hanukah celebrates when the Jews like saved all the world, just FYI”
Sometimes overstating the relevance of Hanukah can take a more subtle tone as well, where the JYA will mention the holiday under the context of a different conversation entirely. JYA “Jonah” sat with his Non Jewish roommate “Luke” discussing the women they met a recent bar when he mentioned that “Hanukah is the festival of lights, so that Caitlin chick better come over tonight and light my Menorah, if you know what I mean. It’s like a Mitzvah or something for a girl to give a blowjay for 8 nights. Sucks you aren’t Jewish bro, you’re missing out”.
There are even instances where the JYA will try to subvert the relevance of Christmas in a blatant show of one-up-manship. For example, upon receiving a bracelet from Tiffany’s, “Joanna” stated to her Non-Jewish sorority sisters: “And this is only for the 3rd night”.
Whatever the form, JYAs that are living in predominantly Non Jewish countries feel a pressing need to up the ante from Thanksgiving to New Years because they know that they will probably not be invited to Christmas parties, and will use whatever means they can to inflate the significance of an otherwise insignificant holiday.