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Nittel Nacht

December 24, 2012

Tonight is the famed Jewish holiday of “nittel nacht” – Christmas Eve to most of you – on which Torah study was forbidden.  The holiday has no theological basis – rather it was a reflection of a time in which Jews lived in fear of violence of Christians.  Since that today is mostly not the case (with a few exceptions, such as East Jerusalem) it is a holiday that desperately cries out to be deprecated – but it is still fun to read about

So far all the readers who celebrate Christmas:  a happy holiday.  And for those who do not:  I hope you enjoy some really tasty Chinese food on the 25th.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 24, 2012 2:13 pm

    It was my (Christian) family’s tradition for many years to enjoy a Christmas day meal at a Chinese buffet. Circumstances have changed and, in recent years, we have abandoned the practice. I only mention this to point out that even the goyim can enjoy Chinese food on the 25th.

  2. December 24, 2012 2:20 pm

    Brant — absolutely! Even Jean Shepherd was famously known to talk about “Chinese turkey for Christmas“.

  3. December 24, 2012 2:50 pm

    Cheers, Theophrastus! My (ethnically Anglo and Sicilian) in-laws have always had sukiyaki for Christmas for as long as I’ve been in the family, though this year my husband and I are at our own home for Christmas Eve, and we are having ciopinno.

  4. December 24, 2012 2:55 pm

    Ciopinno — ah, you San Franciscans….

  5. December 24, 2012 4:30 pm

    Theophrastus,
    Thanks for the timely post! You are right to say that it’s “fun to read about.” Thanks for the linked article, and you probably also saw this one by Benyamin Cohen, where he gets at the curious problem of just exactly when to observe and the funny ways how. (And I learned about from the article, and just read this English translation of, Toledot Yeshu.) Is it true that “most Jews no longer celebrate (or even know about) Nittel Nacht. It is, on many levels, a holiday far past its expiration date”? (And do “the Jews for Jesus” really wish each other “Merry Messiahmas”?) I love Cohen’s humor and how he ends by wishing “Merry Nittel Nacht, and to all a good night.”

  6. December 24, 2012 5:04 pm

    Is it true that “most Jews no longer celebrate (or even know about) Nittel Nacht?”

    Cannot answer that one, but all the Jews that I know seem to know about it, and many plan something (often ironic) for the holiday.

    (And do “the Jews for Jesus” really wish each other “Merry Messiahmas”?)

    I suppose it could be worse — they could be saying “Merry Saturnalia.”

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