Celebrating “Chrismekkah” in Israel
One of the biggest downsides with living away from your homecountry is that you don’t always get to see your family as much as you would want to, and this can get especially difficult during big holidays. I try to fly home to my family whenever I can, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. However, there is nothing bad that doesn’t bring something good along with it.
Christmas is for me the most important holiday of the year, as cliché as it might sound. Not for any religious reasons at all, simply because of traditional and magical reasons, and for all the warm and fuzzy childhood memories I associate it with. I am one of the crazy ones who loves to cover my home in Christmas decorations, clean in places I never remember to clean otherwise, and bake and cook food like my life is depending on it. I love Christmas shopping, and no Christmas shopping is complete unless my feet and back hurts in the end of it. Some may consider all this stress and hard work a form of self-torture, but for me it’s all part of it – you stress and you work, and you cook and you clean and prepare until you are in pain, just so that on Christmas morning you can wake up with a feeling of accomplishment to the magical atmosphere and do nothing except eat, drink, and spend time with friends and family all day.
Since I moved to Israel I have spent a few Christmases here. Every year when I cannot go home to my family in Sweden during this occasion I feel sad, however, I try my best to make up for it by throwing a Christmas dinner for all my amazing friends here in Israel. And just because a majority of the people here don’t usually celebrate Christmas, because they are not Christians, I have to work a bit extra to try and create the right atmosphere and Christmas spirit.
In Sweden we celebrate on Christmas Eve, and not on Christmas Day like most other countries. So yesterday, 24th of December, was the big day! Christmas in Swedish is Jul, and in fact Swedes celebrated Jul long before Christianity came to Sweden, and mentionings of Jul dates long back to our less civilized ancestors in the area and their sacrificing rituals.
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah usually falls around the same time as Christmas, so when living in Israel we get a case of “Christmekkah”. The positive side of celebrating Christmas away from home is that you get to invite a diverse variety of people bringing their own traditions; some who are used to Christmas and some who never celebrated it before. Christmas being a time of peace, giving and sharing (and eating and drinking – A LOT!), it makes it a bit extra beautiful and special when you manage to gather people with different nationalities, religions, and backgrounds under one roof, around one tree, sharing that magical Christmas spirit.
Thank you to all my friends and loved ones here in Israel for being my family during this holiday and for making it so special.