Late December is a magical time of year.
Everyone is in the holiday spirit and listening to Christmas music and hopefully playing in snow on the ground. Children fill the malls, waiting to get their picture taken with Santa; movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street” (and my personal favorite, “Jingle All the Way”) play repeatedly on television. As Dec. 24 rolls around, everyone is putting up trees and lights and spending time at home with friends and family.
Well, not everyone.
For people of the Jewish faith, Christmas Eve is a time to celebrate in their own way.
There aren’t many restaurants or fun venues open for Jews to enjoy on Christmas Eve, but every Jewish family has its own traditions. Stereotypically, a Jewish Christmas includes eating Chinese food and going to the movies because Chinese restaurants and movie theaters are two of the only establishments open on Christmas. Although stereotypical, this assessment is also frighteningly accurate.
Years ago, “Saturday Night Live” put out a hilarious song called “Christmastime for the Jews,” which jokes about what Jewish people could possibly do on Christmas Eve while everyone else is at home with their families, waiting for Santa. Along with eating Chinese food and going to the movies, the song mentions other options such as seeing “Fiddler on the Roof” with all Jewish actors or circumcising squirrels in the park.
Jokes aside, there are plenty of things us Jewish folks can do on Christmas Eve. While Chinese food is classic, perhaps mix it up a little this year by having a potluck dinner with other Jewish friends and family. While you could have any seat in the local movie theater, try staying home and playing board games or watching a favorite movie in your living room with your family. Of course, if you are more of a traditionalist, there is nothing wrong with enjoying some sesame chicken and lo mein followed by “Anchorman 2.”
Another great option is to volunteer. Nothing to do on Christmas morning? Go volunteer at a homeless shelter and bring joy to people who would be celebrating if they had the means to do so. Volunteering is a great way for Jewish people to spend their Christmas Eve and Day.
So before leaving Pitt this break, keep in mind all the Jewish students who are looking forward to their Chinese food Dec. 24, and maybe throw in a couple more “happy holidays” than “merry Christmases” on your way out of town this year. Regardless of how you celebrated on Christmas, enjoy this festive time of year.