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Holy Night
December 23, 2009 3:02 PM   Subscribe

The little-known Jewish holiday of Christmas Eve. Seriously.
posted by andoatnp (38 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
So unknown that this Jewish person never heard of it before.
posted by bearwife at 3:11 PM on December 23, 2009


I've never heard of this tradition. Interesting.

He left out going out to the movies and ordering Chinese food.

Christmas Day of course, is reserved for homemade enchiladas and tamales with family and friends. :D
posted by zarq at 3:14 PM on December 23, 2009


He left out going out to the movies and ordering Chinese food.

To be fair, he actually does mention it up toward the beginning.

And, if you belong to a branch of a religion that has rules about when you can tear toilet paper, you need to start looking for a less intrusive version of said religion. Some things just aren't any of god's goddamn business.
posted by dortmunder at 3:18 PM on December 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Bah - no mention of the obligatory MatzoBash/Ball? When you're done ripping that toilet paper, you've gotta go to the club! Open bar all night, that's where I'll be.
posted by Arbac at 3:24 PM on December 23, 2009


Can I go to movies and have Chinese food for Christmas, or would I have to convert to Judaism?
posted by brundlefly at 3:25 PM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]




Can I go to movies and have Chinese food for Christmas, or would I have to convert to Judaism?


Most of my Jewish friends have been pretty cool with me tagging along for dimsum and mindless blockbusters, but they where probably just being nice to me so I wouldn't expose their secret worldwide conspiracy.

kosher hamburger
posted by The Whelk at 3:28 PM on December 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


To be fair, he actually does mention it up toward the beginning.

Grrrr.... missed that. Hmph. I suppose I'll just have to drown my sorrows in some delicious lo mein, then. :)
posted by zarq at 3:32 PM on December 23, 2009


if you belong to a branch of a religion that has rules about when you can tear toilet paper, you need to start looking for a less intrusive version of said religion.

or if you belong to a website with rules about such...
posted by ServSci at 3:32 PM on December 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


...so I wouldn't expose their secret worldwide conspiracy.

*cough* Don't be silly. There is no conspiracy. *cough*
posted by zarq at 3:35 PM on December 23, 2009


Wow my mom used to take me to movies/Chinese dinner on Xmas Eve as a kid. We're not Jewish, just lapsed Catholics. Must be something she picked up in college (she was from NYC and went to the U of MD, so Admissions prolly just assumed and stuck her in the Jewish dorms...)
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:37 PM on December 23, 2009


My husband's late aunt, the granddaughter of an English wonder rabbi, once said to me while discussing a planned December get-together, "The 24th probably won't work for you, because that's Erev Christmas."

It worked just fine. We miss you, Aunt Ruth!
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:42 PM on December 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


Slate keeps describing any Christmas convention more heterodox than midnight Mass as "bizarre."

"The bizarre Christmas tradition of little pet-shaped ornaments."
"The inexplicable Christmas tradition of 'wassailing.'"
"The incomprehensibly alien Christmas tradition of snow globes."
posted by decagon at 3:45 PM on December 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


just wait until they get to eating grapes while jumping off a chair.
posted by The Whelk at 3:46 PM on December 23, 2009


In Christopher Moore's wonderful novel Lamb, the main characters (Jesus, or Josh, as he's known to his friends, and his best buddy Biff) have Chinese food for the first time and Josh loves it so much, they have it for his birthday from then on.
posted by EarBucket at 3:46 PM on December 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


The Jewish community has long had a tense relationship with Christmas.

Whatever. By December 23rd every year, I have become heartily sick of reading about it, hearing about it, and having people ask me about it.
posted by pinky at 3:52 PM on December 23, 2009


Since Jews were not allowed to study Torah on Christmas Eve, the rabbis still wanted the community to be doing something, um, productive. So they suggested people spend the time pre-ripping toilet paper for the entire year. I wish I was joking but, alas, I am not.

Nothing like spending the evening of the non-Messiah's birth preparing your buttwipe for the next year, eh?
posted by hippybear at 4:03 PM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


So they suggested people spend the time pre-ripping toilet paper for the entire year. I wish I was joking but, alas, I am not.

I'm thinking about the challenge of storing a year's worth of pre-ripped toilet paper. But then I have a small bathroom.
posted by not that girl at 4:06 PM on December 23, 2009


Can you bring your roll of toilet paper to the theater and tear it down during the movie? Should save some time.
posted by qvantamon at 4:20 PM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


He does mention the Matzo Ball/Bash via a wikipedia link...
posted by NikitaNikita at 4:20 PM on December 23, 2009


Ah, Christmas Eve, as presented by Darlene Love and Robert Smigel - a seasonal favorite via SNL: Christmas Time for the Jews
posted by redfisch at 4:34 PM on December 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I already don't Torah on Christmas Eve, so I have been practicing Nittel Nakht my entire life without realizing it.

Of course, my Christmas Eve involves a decorated tree and a very disappointed mother, which is another Jewish Christmas tradition.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:45 PM on December 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I just made "Torah" a verb. More shandeh un charpeh for my mother.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:46 PM on December 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


After reading the bit about tearing up toilet paper for shabbos, I wondered what the correct procedure was if Nittel Nacht itself fell on shabbos. A brief googling brings up this page which offers:
There is a view that when Nittel Nacht falls out on Shabbat one need not concern oneself with any of the Nittel Nacht customs owing to the holiness of the day, though others disagree.
Of course -- some say yea, others say nay. What other answer could be expected?
posted by mhum at 5:18 PM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I never before heard of Jewish holidays where you are *not* supposed to study-- this is something we were never taught in Hebrew school. The toilet paper thing is particularly bizarre.
posted by Maias at 5:22 PM on December 23, 2009


...that's Erev Christmas. (Sidhedevil)

I love Erev. It's such a useful word. I was describing my Thanksgiving this year to a friend of mine, and it was just the word I needed: "So for Erev Thanksgiving, we had duck at Claire's dad's house, and on Thanksgiving we had turkey at her mom's."
posted by ocherdraco at 5:33 PM on December 23, 2009


My husband's late aunt, the granddaughter of an English wonder rabbi, once said to me while discussing a planned December get-together, "The 24th probably won't work for you, because that's Erev Christmas."

Forgive my ignorance of Judaism, but what in the Sam Hill is a "wonder rabbi?" Is sounds like the Jewish equivalent of a revivalist tent preacher, but I could be way off.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:41 PM on December 23, 2009


I'd like to imagine it's a Rabbi who flies around in an invisible plane and circumcises infants with a golden lasso, but I'm probably wrong.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:45 PM on December 23, 2009 [12 favorites]


No, that's it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:10 PM on December 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


"The incomprehensibly alien Christmas tradition of snow globes."

Thus is revealed the secret connection between Great Cthulhu and Charles Foster Kane.

I think the tradition of Chinese food and bad movies is a lot better than what our family does these days, which is hang out with each other.

(Off to look up erev, that just might be useful someday....)
posted by JHarris at 6:10 PM on December 23, 2009


Of course -- some say yea, others say nay. What other answer could be expected? What, you expected something different?
posted by jock@law at 6:23 PM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


By the way, I didn't know about the movie and chinese food thing - I read one or two references to doing it, but thought it was an isolated instance of meh-ing the holiday. Now that I found out it really is a full-blown tradition, it is my new most awesomest tradition ever.

And this Christmas I shall observe this fine Jewish tradition, even not being Jewish myself.
posted by qvantamon at 7:53 PM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Quick! Take the pork roast off the stove!
posted by Balisong at 8:18 PM on December 23, 2009


By the way, I didn't know about the movie and chinese food thing - I read one or two references to doing it, but thought it was an isolated instance of meh-ing the holiday. Now that I found out it really is a full-blown tradition, it is my new most awesomest tradition ever.

I'm guessing the Chinese food part of it, at least, started because Chinese restaurants are usually owned by Chinese people, i.e. people who are most likely from a non-Christian background, and thus usually keep regular hours on Christmas Eve. My family often goes out for Chinese food on Christmas Eve for that very reason.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:57 PM on December 23, 2009


I'm not a Jew, but this is the first time in three years I'm not going to the Matzo Ball with some Jewish friends. This year I'm in a relationship so I'm spending it with my girlfriend. Ah but I will always have fond memories of Matzo Ball. Jewish girls rock.
posted by smoothvirus at 9:39 PM on December 23, 2009


Having attended (and been expelled from) several Talmudic seminaries (technically, expelled from one, banned from the others) I can attest to the underlying pattern chronicled by this article: starting from a place of precision, unalloyed logic which, somehow, ends up with a practice that crosses over to batshit crazy.
posted by victors at 12:18 AM on December 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


So … what has matzo to do with christmas, or even the winter? I wouldn't even know where to buy it this time of year (which is a shame because I love matzo brei).
posted by kenko at 12:25 AM on December 24, 2009


My father, who was brought up in a nominally Orthodox household (Torah study only on Saturdays, kosher food, but no pre-ripped toilet paper) and his father decided that he needed to see what a real Orthodox household was like one Saturday, so he was sent for the day to his cousins' house. After he went to the bathroom, he told his aunt and uncle that they had a lot of torn up toilet paper in there, so he threw it out for them.

None of his younger brothers were invited over again, either.

The movies tradition is my family's tradition (after all, what else is there to do on Christmas?), though usually someone throws a dinner party. And though we call Dec 24 Christmas Eve, we do call the 23rd Erev Christmas Eve. It's a particularly handy term.
posted by jeather at 6:08 AM on December 24, 2009


I am going for Korean BBQ tonight... cause Im a rebel
posted by rosswald at 7:30 AM on December 24, 2009


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