The Jewish Festival of Lights is over but some Americans are still wondering if you’re supposed to spell it Hanuka, Hanukah, Chanuka, Chanukah, or even if you need to spell it with two “n’s.” They also want to know if it’s some sort of “in” thing to know about why “h’s” go at the end or not. But no matter how anyone spells that holiday, everybody in the industrialized US world wonders “How the heck are we supposed to survive the onslaught that begins with America’s Labor Day Weekend?” Some creative, and occasionally hilarious answers, appear below. Spelling lessons will be included.
SpelCheks for Shoppers. Polite Greetings, too.
Halloween/Hallowe’en (non-Americans use the apostrophe. We don’t) doesn’t matter. Too many horror stories about pin-filled or poisoned candy fill emergency rooms and broken hearts, let alone headlines. If your children insist on dress-up fun in October, let their schools hold safe, supervised parties.
Thanksgiving has too many calories, food and family fights. Watch the football game and eat lo-cal, non-buttered popcorn instead of the hi-cal spread on the buffet table. Nobody will shove their knees where they don’t belong and your clothes will fit a week later.
Shoppers have noticed that Christmas season – abbreviated as “X-mas” in expensive, space-constrained print ads and websites – is incrementally earlier each year. Advertisements for more presents than anyone can reasonably handle used to appear immediately after late November’s Turkey and Pecan Pie Until You Die, Burst at the Seams, or Belch holiday. As merchandisers and marketers realized the cost-effectiveness of ever-earlier holiday shopping publicity, though, those ads began appearing wherever you looked right after the first weekend in September. In recent years the ads began looking us in the eyes in late August. Somehow, we shudder as we slather on sunscreen and wonder “Oh, no, office parties and etiquette, give or take a billion calories from catered foods and homemade snacks that everybody will bring to the office. OMIGAWD, presents! How will I stick to my budget?”
Those aren’t the only concerns on many minds. All of us need to know how to wish Muslims, Christians, Atheists, Agnostics, Jews, Pagans, and everybody else a happy holiday. Well, maybe they wonder about the correct way to spell “Kwaanza,” first. Or is it “Kwanza,” or perhaps “Kwanzaa”?
Strip Stress from Winter Holiday Season
Back to the question of the hour; “How is anybody supposed to survive holiday season stress-free!!!!????” That, dear readers, is a matter of perspective and a nurtured sense of humor. They’ll prevent you from offending people who observe various religious rites, and pray to gods with names that you can’t pronounce.
Ease your fears of offending anyone by wishing one and all “a lovely winter.” If you wish to embellish your remark, say “Happy holidays.” By no means should you greet non-Christians with “Jesus is the reason for the season.” You can generate some educational and thoughtful conversation, however, by asking people to explain the religious symbolism of their holidays to you. That shows respect, friendliness, and healthy curiosity.
Here’s an overview of those holidays in democratic, alphabetical order:
Christmas Is a commemoration of Jesus’ birth. Some Christians celebrate on December 25th, others on January 7th. The exact date of Jesus’ birth is open to speculation.
Diwali is a Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh holiday of lights that moves around the calendar. That’s because some societies observe lunar years, and others use a solar calendar.
However you spell it, Hanuka commemorates the Jewish people’s recovery of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem – long before those holidays above were invented. The Temple served the physical and spiritual needs of everyone, no matter which religion they observed.
Kwanzaa (and all its variant spellings, though “Kwanzaa” is correct) is the December 26 to January 1 African American community’s celebration of cultural plus traditional values..
Midwinter Yule is a pagan celebration somewhat reminiscent of Christmas, but minus a godly figure.
Muslim holidays move about the calendar, too, and none of them are particularly situated during winter.
What can you do about calorie-loaded office and other parties? One smart move is to eat a full meal before heading over to the Snack Attack waiting for you. You’ll feel less hunger and temptation to overindulge on a full stomach. Small bites that leave the majority of the servings on your plate will be good for your waistline and probably your cholesterol levels.
Office Parties are a creation of the gods who prize pure evil and uncertainty. Celebrants, if you can call them that, rarely know what to say to the boss, the secretaries and nurses who save everyone’s careers time and again, or if it’s okay to get tipsy from the harmless-looking punch. It isn’t. By the way, walk past the open bar if you want to keep your job next year. Smile as you move. You’ll burn calories from food you didn’t need to eat and protect your reputation as a decent person.
Budget blues getting you down? Give the gift that only costs a warm smile and a bit of muscle. Do favors for people instead of buying them expensive presents.
Yocheved Golani is a popular writer whose byline has appeared worldwide in print and online. A certified Health Information Management professional, she is a member of Get Help Israel. Certified in Spiritual Chaplaincy (End of Life issues) and in counseling skills, her life coaching for ill people puts healthy perspective into a clients’ success plan for achieving desired goals.