When the holidays started to roll around at the end of the fall semester, my best friend and I did our very best to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah together in college. Since I celebrated the former and he celebrated both holidays, we made sure to include traditions from each in our festivities.
Now that we've celebrated many post-college holidays, we still find a way to squeeze in time during December for what we like to call Christmukkah.
Chrismukkah: Merging Two December Holidays
Ten years ago, I met my best friend in college, and he introduced me to the concept of Chrismukkah during our first holiday celebrations the semester after we met. Up to that point, I always celebrated Christmas in the usual fashion. I had no idea there was a special word for people who choose to celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas at the same time.
When my friend mentioned the celebration by name, I had to ask for a lot of clarification. He explained that Chrismukkah is a blended celebration that recognizes the holiday traditions and the faiths of both Christmas and Hanukkah. Many families with members who practice Protestantism and Judaism celebrate the combo holiday.
I was very curious as to when exactly one might celebrate Chrismukkah, since Christmas is always on the 25th and Hanukkah dates can vary. Not to mention that Christmas is just one day, and Hannukah lasts for an entire eight days. Turns out that there are no hard and fast rules about Chrismukkah. You can truly celebrate the holiday anytime between the first day of Hanukkah and December 25th.
Many people try to celebrate Chrismukkah when the days of Christmas and Hanukkah overlap. This doesn't happen every year, but when it does, the celebration feels extra special.
How to Celebrate Chrismukkah
Once I understood Chrismukkah, I was excited to celebrate it with my friend. Since I celebrated Christmas every year and he celebrated both holidays, it made sense to observe Chrismukkah together.
As mentioned before, Chrismukkah doesn't hold as tightly to traditions and formalities as its contributing holidays do. You can truly celebrate in any way you like, as long as you aim to honor both celebrations. This is how we have celebrated Chrismukkah in the past.
My best friend originally got the idea for celebrating Chrismukkah from Seth on The O.C.
Decorate a Christmas Tree Alternative
If you want to decorate a traditional tree for Chrismukkah, you totally can. Remember, there are no rules here. But, for two college kids with very little space, we chose a Christmas tree alternative. We stacked all our books in a spiral tower and draped lights over them to create a tree we felt represented both of us.
Prepare a Traditional Combo Meal
Every holiday involves delicious food, and combining two celebrations just means you get double the tasty treats. We always combined foods that were traditional to our celebrations with our families to make our Chrismukkah meal. I often made my grandmother's Christmas punch, and he usually made homemade fried donuts for dessert.
Blend Christmas & Hannukah Colors
Christmas has red and green and Hanukah has contrasting blue and yellow. We loved to combine those colors for a rainbow of celebration every year. Hang blue lights on the mantel and use green or red candles for your menorah. Blending the two holidays is all about weaving the details together for a uniquely beautiful celebration.
Dress the Part
Dressing for your Chrismukkah party or your cozy night with loved ones is all about what honors the holiday in your eyes. My bestie and I always wore matching yellow sweaters for the occasion. It was for no other reason than both of us having and loving sweaters in the color yellow. This is what Chrismukkah is all about — celebrating in a way that feels authentic to you. Here are some other clothing options for Chrismukkah:
- A holiday dress featuring one traditional color from each holiday.
- An ugly Chrismukkah sweater.
- Pajamas that feature Hanukkah or Christmas icons.
- Matching family outfits with funny tees or cozy flannel shirts.
Watch The O.C.
The O.C. didn't necessarily invent Chrismukkah, but it did repopularize the concept. So, we watched a holiday episode of the show to honor the tradition. Even as someone who never watched the show during its release, I still appreciated the humor and all the Chrismukkah details.
Have a Holiday Movie Marathon
My bestie and I always love an excuse for a movie marathon, and Chrismukkah was a great reason to have a holiday movie night. We would combine our favorite Christmas movies for an evening of laughter as we sipped on wine and snacked on some of our favorite traditional holiday foods.
Giving Gifts for Chrismukkah
One of the toughest details to decide when planning to celebrate Chrismukkah was how to handle gift-giving. Should there be eight gifts? One big gift? Ultimately, we decided to give the number of gifts we felt was fitting for each other. Things usually played out with him giving me one very thoughtful and high-quality gift (since I celebrate Christmas), and I would give him eight smaller gifts that all go together (since he celebrates both holidays). Here are some great Chrismukkah gifts that have worked for us over the years:
- A niche Christmas tree ornament
- A new book
- Your favorite holiday movie on DVD or Blu-ray
- A cozy winter sweater
- Simple, understated jewelry
- A new coffee mug
- Funny gifts based on inside jokes
- Experience gifts like tickets to a theater production or a local museum
Chrismukkah was first celebrated by German Jews in the 19th century.
Anyone Can Celebrate Chrismukkah
I had no idea what Chrismukkah was until my bestie first spoke the word. Having never celebrated Hanukkah before, I felt like a bit of an imposter. Then I realized that the fun of celebrating the holiday was less about me and more about celebrating what matters to my friend. Anyone can celebrate Chrismukkah because anyone can honor the traditions or faith of someone they love.