Jewish Christmas cheer: The Jewish contributions to Christmas

Did you know that there are several Jewish connections to the holiday?
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Do Jews celebrate Christmas?

No. We do not (at least not in the religious sense).

But did you know that there are several Jewish connections to the holiday?

First: Christmas is not a Jewish holiday at all. Not even close (and before you ask, no Hanukkah is not a Jewish version of Christmas). December 25th is just another normal day on the Jewish calendar. (In fact historically, Christmas has been a very bad time of year to be Jewish as it was a time of increased persecution.) 

There are however several Jewish connections to Christmas beyond the obligatory eating of Chinese food and going to the movie theater.

Fake Christmas trees

The “king” of the artificial Christmas tree? Yup, Jewish (and fought Nazis in WWII).

As the New York Times profile on him put it: “Mr. Spiegel’s designs are found in close to three-quarters of the American homes that put up Christmas trees, he doesn’t keep a tree himself.”

Christmas carols

Irving (Israel) Berlin wrote many of the songs on the White Christmas album.

Your favorite Christmas carol? Odds are high someone Jewish wrote it. 

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “White Christmas,” “Let is snow! Let is snow! Let it snow!,” “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” “Santa Baby” and many others were all written by Jewish songwriters.

So why would someone who doesn’t celebrate the holiday be writing Christmas songs?

The simple answer: it was a straightforward way for Jews to make a living and break into the music biz.

Santa

Did you know Santa is an Orthodox Jew? Well at least one is.

“Santa is an American cultural thing. When I’m Santa, I’m Santa. I’m a spiritual guy who believes in the world being a better place,” Santa “Rick Rosenthal” told The JTA.

Jews have been dressing up as Santa for years and Rosenthal actually operates a Santa school teaching would be Santas the tricks of the trade.

Cheesy Christmas movies

“Write Before Christmas” is one of the dozens of Christmas movies Jewish duo Tippi and Neal Dobrofsky have written.

That really cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie that you love? That Netflix Christmas special based in an idyllic winter wonderland? Chances are high that the plot was written by someone Jewish.

The husband and wife team of Tippi and Neal Dobrofsky have written 30 Christmas movies that have been distributed by Hallmark, Lifetime and Netflix.

“It’s a lot of Jews writing this stuff,” Tippi told The Hollywood Reporter.

Ho, Ho, Holy Land

Holiday season in Haifa, Israel.

The Jewish state is one of the more unique spots in the world to spend the holiday season with the Old City of Jerusalem being an important stop for Christian pilgrims. 

Also, every December Haifa is decorated in honor of “the Holiday of all Holidays” to celebrate Israel’s three big religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

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