My buddy Meeko Fabulous asked a great question in a comment earlier this week, and I thought a post about my answer would be a great Public Service Announcement right now, at the beginning of the holiday season.
Would a Jewish person get offended if they were given a Christmas card? I unintentionally committed that faux pas last year and got an earful . . . Your thoughts?
I did a post that touched on this last year, but I’m too lazy to link it. First of all, I have to put the disclaimer out there that my answer is just that: Mine. My opinion may not be the same as other Jews; I’m only speaking for myself.
Generally, I believe that proper etiquette indicates that you should extend holiday wishes to others according to what THEY celebrate. In other words, if Meeko and I met for coffee somewhere in early December, upon leaving to go our separate ways, I would say “Merry Christmas” to Meeko and he would say “Happy Hanukkah” to me. That is, I believe, what Miss Manners or Dear Abby would suggest. (That, or the more generic “Happy Holidays”.)
I give my Christmas-celebrating friends CHRISTMAS gifts, wrapped in Christmas paper. Near Christmas. If Hanukkah occurs earlier than Christmas (like this year, December 11-18), I don’t give my Christian friends their gift during Hanukkah unless I won’t see them again before Christmas.
That said, and finally touching on the answer to Meeko’s specific question, NO, I would not get (and have not gotten) offended if I were given a Christmas card. In fact, it happens many times each year. I am one of the dinosaurs who still sends out holiday cards (they say “Happy Holidays” though, because that’s my preference) to friends and family, and of course I get some in return. Nine times out of ten, my non-Jewish friends send me the same Christmas card they send to everyone else on their list. Some of them do go out to the store in order to purchase a Hanukkah card, and I appreciate that but do not expect it at all. I don’t look at a Christmas card as a slap in the face or an insult; I just think about how nice it was for that person to extend holiday wishes to me. Do I get Hanukkah gifts right before Christmas, even if Hanukkah was over more than two weeks before? Sure. Am I insulted? Nope. I don’t expect people to keep track of the Hebrew calendar and, subsequently, the different Hanukkah dates from year to year. Again,
it’s just an honor to be nominated I’m just appreciative of the thought.
To me, this whole thing goes along with being tolerant of other people’s beliefs and considering others outside of your own little bubble. And no, not everybody does that. I feel like it’s safe to say that a minority (like me, a Jewish person) might be more attentive to something like this, much like I try to be cognizant of how others spell their name because I have an unconventional name spelling. It’s totally understandable how someone who celebrates the same December holiday that 90% of other Americans wouldn’t always think about the other holidays, just like someone who is named Jane might not be as good with unusual name spellings as someone named Jayne.
So that’s about it, Meeko. I would not be insulted or offended if you did send me a Christmas card, and by default that also means that you would not get an earful from me either, which I think is a little rude, by the way. Have your friend call me so I can scold them, would you?
Does anyone want to add anything?
This is kinda the reason I don't get worked up over the generic 'Happy Holidays' greeting. Raised a Christian, I am still very aware that we don't have a monopoly on December holidays. Being respectful of other people's religious observations is exactly what we all should do – 'do unto others.'
Good answer. Good answer.
Getting Christmas cards never bothered me much, especially because most of my friends would scratch out Christmas and write "Hanukkah" for me, which showed that they remembered and cared that I celebrated something different. And now I live in a country that, to my knowledge, doesn't even have Hanukkah cards, so that also puts things in perspective.
Great job! I think it's rude though to send a Merry Christmas card intentionally to someone you know is Jewish. Accident? No problem, but take the time to buy Happy Holidays or Happy Hanukkah.
Mmmm…now you have me craving latkes and brisket. 🙂
If you say "Happy Holidays," you're contributing to what Bill O'Reilly calls "The War on Christmas."
You're a bad, bad girl.
Gypsy Mama Manna
Thanks for adding some sense to a subject that seems senseless sometimes. Like the comment above mine it seems crazy that some folks still haven't figured out a way to co-exist with our belief systems. I surely wonder what God's take it on all of this?! Remembering the people we love during this time of year and sharing our love for one another no matter what the sentiment is just plain old wonderful in my book! You are a voice of reason Melisa!
Adding a point to this that some might not think of is the card might be special made and not sending the card to a Jewish friend just because it says Christmas on it would be leaving them out. I am trying to make a custom card this year and actually wanted to try and make a Hanuka card but wasn't able to (wardrobe malfunction worse than Janet Jackson's) and the picture I took for my Christmas card is hysterical. I think it is sad that there are people who can't see past the text on a card to the true meaning of it. I remember last year's post so know that I can share my card with you Melisa and not have you upset by it, you know I love you long time even if I do wish you a merry Christmas along with everyone else on my list! And of course you know I know you are Jewish and totally respect that =)!
john cave osborne
the topic of your post was something that i was actually cognizant of while i writing my last post. it concluded with a spiritual metaphor that i feared may offend non-Christians. me personally? if you wrote about Hanukkah til you were blue in the face? i'd be fine with it. you could drop ship me a dreidel and i'd be tickled pink (especially if it entertained my triplets for even a minute). i'm glad to know that you seem to have a similar stance when it comes to different faiths. jco
Like you, I'm happy to be remembered during the Holiday season. If you send me a card, I display it with all my other cards. I try to send my Jewish friends Hanukkah cards, but have made a slip or two in my life. I didn't "get an earful." Tolerance during this season would seem to make the most sense, wouldn't it?
I like your answer.
Personally, I think that a college friend and I could have solved this years ago. He is Jewish and I'm Catholic. One day he says to me "hey, Hanukkah has eight days and there are twelve days of Christmas. What if just we combined them, rounded up and took the whole month of December off." I thought it was a brilliant idea. We should have worked a little harder to get our idea some momentum.
Oh, I'm happy if someone thinks about me, no matter what.
If a friend were a Buddhist, I would have expected a "Happy Sitting Under the Tree Day," not a "Happy Hanukkah," no? I would definitely not have been offended by him expressing his Buddhist philosophy. So why should I be offended by a Christian?
It's good to be reminded that not everyone celebrates Christmas. It doesn't surprise me that you would just appreciate the thought; I suppose that attitude is what it's all about, right? 🙂 And in case I forget, Happy Hanukkah! 🙂
As everyone else has already stated, I too am not offended when I recieve Christmas cards. It's kind of annoying to recieve them from people that know I don't celebrate it, but I don't make a big deal out of it.
Hanukkah's right around the corner and I sure wish people would get over me saying "Happy Holidays" and start realizing there's more than just Christmas lights going up.
I am just happy when I get mail in my mail box at all!!!!
Thanks for this again! I didn't even KNOW she was Jewish until I handed her the card and she just blew up on me. Oh well. I just never gave her a card again. I'm glad you don't get offended.