Ear­li­er this week, Joshua Eli Plaut wrote about Hanukkah events in the NYC area. He has been blog­ging here all week for Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and MyJew­ish­Learn­ing.

Jews have played a cru­cial role in pop­u­lar­iz­ing Christ­mas. They have enhanced the nation­al obser­vance of Christ­mas by com­pos­ing many of the Christ­mas songs beloved by all Amer­i­cans. More sec­u­lar than reli­gious, these songs, among them Irv­ing Berlin’s White Christ­mas,” Wal­ter Rollins and Steve Fletcher’s Frosty the Snow­man,” and, most recent­ly, Paul Simon’s Get­ting Ready for Christ­mas Day,” remind cel­e­brants that Christ­mas belongs to all Amer­i­cans who share in the spir­it of patri­o­tism, gen­eros­i­ty, peace, and good will. Iron­i­cal­ly, oth­er Jews in the Unit­ed States have devel­oped strate­gies to down­play the sig­nif­i­cance of Christ­mas by com­pos­ing poems and songs — in print, per­for­mance, and the media — that sat­i­rize and neu­tral­ize the reli­gious nature of the hol­i­day. Humor­ous songs and comedic per­for­mances offer out­lets for the dis­en­fran­chised to vent dis­ap­point­ment over society’s fix­a­tion with the crass com­mer­cial­iza­tion of Christmas.

Har­bor­ing an appre­ci­a­tion for music, I lis­tened to many Hanukkah record albums and com­pact discs that intro­duced new songs to the pub­lic. This led to my dis­cov­er­ing musi­cal par­o­dies of Christ­mas and Hanukkah that were record­ed on spe­cial­ty labels and even­tu­al­ly recre­at­ed on CDs, DVDs, and YouTube. 

Check out the following:

Joshua Eli Plaut, PhD, is the full-time Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Amer­i­can Friends of Rabin Med­ical, as well as the Rab­bi of the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Syn­a­gogue in Man­hat­tan. His most recent book, A Kosher Christ­mas: Tis the Sea­son to Be Jew­ish, is now available.

Joshua Eli Plaut, PhD, is Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Amer­i­can Friends of Rabin Med­ical and the Rab­bi of Met­ro­pol­i­tan Syn­a­gogue in Man­hat­tan. He is an his­to­ri­an, pho­to-ethno­g­ra­ph­er, and cul­tur­al anthro­pol­o­gist, and is also the author of A Kosher Christ­mas: Tis the Sea­son to Be Jew­ish(Rut­gers Uni­ver­si­ty Press)andGreek Jew­ry in the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry, 1913 – 1983: Pat­terns of Jew­ish Com­mu­nal Sur­vival in the Greek Provinces before and after the Holo­caust (Fair­leigh Dick­in­son Uni­ver­si­ty Press).

Woody Guthrie’s Hanukkah Songs

So You Want to Dress Up As San­ta?!