An Unorthodox Holiday Tradition

I love Christmas. There, I said it. I know, it’s completely unorthodox for this Orthodox Jewess to love Christmas, but I just do. I have loved the holiday for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I got all giddy thinking about the upcoming holiday as more and more homes hung lights, the stores started playing Christmas carols and people were so much nicer to one another. It also helped when the weather participated, and the snowy December’s were always extra wonderful for me (not for my Father, mind you, who cursed every single time he had to shovel the driveway and walkways).

In High School, I memorized the words to every single Carol I could get my hands on, and would serenade my bus driver when he was forced to work his holiday to shuttle us to and from Yeshiva. I figured it was the nice thing to do since he worked Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, to make sure we made it on time to school.

As I grew up, moved out of my parents home and into my various apartments in Manhattan, my love for the holiday grew and flourished. Through my work experiences, I made some really good friends who weren’t Jewish. For weeks before Christmas, we would get together for drinks and gift swapping. My friend Jenny was a fabulous baker and she would make us homemade fudge, peppermint cookies and chocolate dipped nuts. They were absolutely fabulous. I spent the better part of December going from holiday party to holiday party, drinking in the atmosphere and stuffing myself full of sugar cookies and egg nog.

Chanukah paled in comparison to the celebrations we had counting down to Christmas. And, on Christmas eve, I would meet up with my Cousin and some friends and we would go to a movie, out for a Chinese dinner, and then walk around the quiet streets of Manhattan and just take in the lights. I would come home with a red nose, bright, happy eyes and surf the cable channels until I found the Yule log burning as Christmas carols played in the background.

Jerusalem doesn’t have that Christmas feel, although Chanukah here IS a really exciting time. I am trying to husband that Christmas spirit and channel it into our Chanukah celebrations. I realized, now in my 34th year, that it’s not really the Christmas traditions I like per se, but the overall feel of the holiday season.

And so, last week, I roasted some chestnuts in the oven (because they’re kosher and who says we CAN’T have chestnuts on Chanukah). DH and I got a babysitter and spent three hours Chanukah present shopping at the Malcha mall. They actually closed down one of the counters at Shilav  – the baby/kids store – so that two workers could wrap all the presents we bought for Baby J. I know, we will be spoiling her rotten for 8 days, but I do want her to LOVE the holiday season. And not just because it means gifts, but because it’s a special time that we spend with our loved ones. When we look at the blessings we have, when we cherish those dearest to us, when we give Thanks that we are together, healthy and want for practically nothing. Granted, these are obviously NOT the messages of the Chanukah holiday, but if that’s the FEELING she gets from celebrating the eight days with us, then I’ll be a very happy Hipstermom.

I’m still on a hunt throughout the City for candy canes, they are my absolutely favorite. I would eat them all year round, but there is something so wonderfully festive about having them out during this time of year. I know, it’s unorthodox, but I truly don’t care. They’re a kosher candy too, so I say “why not”.

As for the music, well, let’s be real. Adam Sandler’s Chanukah song just doesn’t do it for me. If you see me shopping around Jerusalem this month, with headphones in my ears, chances are that I’m listening to my “Christmas Cheer” mix.

Here are the songs on that playlist. I know, I know. It’s a completely unorthodox holiday tradition, but hey, that’s just how this Hipstermom likes to celebrate this holiday season!


  1. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” – Andy Williams
  2. “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree” – Brenda Lee
  3. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” – Darlene Love
  4. “Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!” – Dean Martin
  5. “Silent Night” – Stevie Nicks
  6. “All I Want for Christmas is You” – Mariah Carey
  7. “Last Christmas” – Wham!
  8. “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” – The Fray
  9. “The Christmas Chipmunk Song” – Alvin & the Chipmunks
  10. “Blue Christmas” – Elvis Presley
  11. “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” – Bruce Springsteen
  12. “Run Rudolph Run” – Chuck Berry
  13. “White Christmas” – Otis Redding
  14. “Jingle Bells” – Frank Sinatra
  15. “Winter Wonderland” – Bing Crosby
  16. “Sleigh Ride” – Ella Fitzgerald
  17. “O Holy Night” – Celine Dion
  18. “The Christmas Song” (Merry Christmas) – Nat King Cole
  19. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – Judy Garland
  20. “Auld Lang Syne” – James Taylor

Do you have any Christmas/Chanukah cross overs? Are you Jewish but love the Christmas season? Let me know!

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5 Responses to An Unorthodox Holiday Tradition

  1. Hadassah says:

    The one song that was driving me insane yesterday was “I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus”. I will find myself singing along in the stores, and then my kids will be shushing me – but there is something catchy about these tunes….

  2. Marion Duca says:

    Wonderful stuff=D I am going to take a decent amount of time to toy with this blog.

  3. Dov says:

    Confession: As a young lawyer working for a Manhattan firm, I do admit to occasionally stealing some time in the lobby watching a live band play christmas music every year and quietly humming along. Its one of my few secrets that I have never revealed until now : )
    BTW, just discovered your blog and like the way you write. I have kids myself, so I can relate even if your base readership is really targeting mothers : )

  4. Galit Breen says:

    omg i love this post. seriously LOVE. this post! you hit the nail on the head with the *feeling* of the season. and for the record, candy canes? are pure fab especially in hot chocolate! 🙂

    • holylandhipstermom says:

      So funny you should mention candy canes in hot chocolate because I JUST found Nestle’s Mint Chocolate hot chocolate and am in heaven! All I need now is a candy cane to stir it with!!

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