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Christmas or Hanukkah. Pick one or the other. Christmas is the day of Jesus Christ's birth. His life was conceived through the Immaculate Conception of Mary, he was born in a stable and the three Magi visited him upon his birth. Jesus' birth demarcates an important moment both religiously and historically, as his life would forever alter the world's concept of religion and ideology. Hanukkah, on the other hand, is a historical holiday that celebrates the victory of Judah and the Maccabees over Antiochus and the Greeks. Oil that was expected to burn for only one day in the synagogue burned for eight days instead. This miracle of light is symbolically remembered through the traditional lighting of the hanukkiah, a special nine-branch candelabra, which is only used on the eight nights of Hanukkah. This "miracle" evolved from the Talmud, rather than true historic events, and has since been incorporated into popular celebrations. What do these two holidays have in common? Besides a mad dash to buy the latest Playstation games for thankless 8-year-olds, the holidays' appearance in December and the propensity of mothers to buy "sensible sweaters" for children who would rather wear T-shirts, these holidays don't have much in common. No matter how hard commercial America tries, I simply can't be convinced that parthenogenesis and war are the same thing. But greeting card companies and malls across America feel differently. When December rolls around, so too does "Hanukkristmas," the only holiday to date which urges people to celebrate both holidays with unspecific, politically correct zeal rather than staying true to their own religious beliefs. PCness has ravaged our country to the point that people are no longer able to celebrate one holiday without instantly being reminded of the other. Take an online card I recently saw: Santa and a caricature of a Hasidic rabbi holding a hanukkiah speed across the screen on a motorcycle to the music of "Flight of the Bumblebee." Another one: Santa holding a Christmas tree and a hanukkiah, with the subtitle, "Happy Whichever!" And the last, my personal favorite: Jesus in the stable playing dreidel to the music "Blame It on the Bossa Nova" while sitting next to a plate of Christmas cookies and latkes. Across the religions, I think this last card warrants a hefty interfaith "oy." Understandably, displays and greeting cards that combine Hanukkah dreidels and Christmas trees into a montage are meant to spread the holiday cheer rather than create divisive holiday jeers. While the intention of mall displays and interreligious greeting cards is to spread the holiday spirit in a politically correct and inoffensive way, what they succeed in doing more often is blurring the line between the two holidays, creating a mixture of Hanukkah and Christmas which inevitably belittles the meaning and importance of each holiday. What can cards showing Jesus eating latkes possibly achieve other than screwing up the impressionable young minds of children who missed the Christmas lesson in Sunday school or the Hanukkah class in Hebrew School? And don't even get me started on "Hanukkah Harry" and the "Hanukkah Bush." While these cards and gestures attempt to be cute about how the two holidays really aren't all that different, they miss the point of each holiday completely and end up cheapening historical and religious events in favor of commercial humor and political correctness. Beyond the gift-giving -- a tradition largely adopted by Jews from the Christian Magi -- the only real idea these two holidays have in common is miracles. Jesus' miraculous conception marks a event that can't be explained by science, and the miracle of the oil lasting for "eight days" -- as explained in the Talmud -- is just one of the many miracles of Jewish history. But Christmas remains a primarily spiritual and religious holiday for Christians, and Hanukkah a historical one for Jews, rather than spiritual. In fact, Christmas is one of the most religiously significant focal points of the Christian year, while Hanukkah is a comparatively insignificant note on the calendar. Its value is heightened only because it shares December with Christmas. These two celebrations are very different, and each one is special for its own reasons. These differences should not be eradicated. If America is truly to be a diverse place, we should be able to appreciate, illuminate and celebrate each holiday's uniqueness, each by the glow of its own light.

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