Jews composed Christmas. Get over it

Irving Berlin

Mel Tormé

Jay Livingston

Jonny Marks

Noel Regner/Gloria Shayne

 

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  • Perhaps some of the best Christmas albums were thanks to Barbra Streisand and Josh Groban. Personally, I love the holiday music and love playing it on piano. It’s just beautiful music that is timeless.

  • What an offensive heading! “Get over it”. The season of Advent, which includes Christmas Day, is one of the most important seasons in the Christian calendar. While songs such as the ones you mention are commercially popular and enjoyable to listen to, they do not define Christmas for many Christians. To reduce this blessed and holy Season to a statement about who composed the most commercially resonant songs and then throw a comment at readers such as “Get over it” is crass and insensitive. The persecution of Christians worldwide is on an unprecedented scale. To speak of Christmas in such a dismissive way in this day and age is uncalled for and insulting.

    • I wholeheartedly agree. But add, why is it so surprising that Jews would have written wonderful Christmas songs? Jesus himself was a Jew!

  • That‘s not Christmas. That‘s this recent US-American cultural phenomenon of a year end material consumption festival coinciding with Christmas.
    Of course there also must be Muzak written for it.

  • OK Norman, but let’s not forget Leroy Anderson, who WASN’T Jewish, but whose “Sleigh RIde”evokes Christmas just as much as everyone else’s.

    • Too true. One of my closest university friends was Jewish and celebrated Christmas more visibly than any of us. And my Christmas dinner for years included someone Jewish who had no other plans for Christmas, from a close pal to a colleague of my brother’s whom I had never met before but who was alone without plans. They seemed to be very happy with my decorations, cuisine and music playing in the background. It never occurred to me to only play the secular music — they sang along with lots of the more familiar carols.

      The whole thing is about good will toward man — we had done our religious observances earlier — and a background that happened to be from one tradition in no way made people from without it feel uncomfortable.

      • It’s as yours as you choose to make it. As I said elsewhere in this thread, those of us with a Christian background have our own reasons for celebrating this feast day, one of the most important in our calendar. But the holiday has been broadened to have a completely secular application, something I welcome because it (nominally, at least) is meant to celebrate things most of us endorse — family and friends, happiness and good will, sharing meals and gifts and company — and, as NL has pointed out, a music that does not commit celebrants to beliefs not their own.

        That’s my kind of inclusive.

    • Some do.

      But there’s a long op-ed in the NY Times today by a Jewish mother lamenting her sons’ desire for a Christmas tree and everything else Christmas.

      A contributing factor to her divorce from her Hindu (pro-Christmas tree) husband, apparently.

  • To some of us, Christmas is more than a winter holiday, a secular buyathon and a stuff-yourself-fest. Composers of note include Franz Gruber, Adolphe Adam, Gustav Holst, Franz Schubert and, even if misplaced to being a Christmas composer, Handel, are among many who wrote what we call Christmas carols and some of the music associated with the more original celebration of this feast.

    This blog has been quite properly noting aspects of music and Hanukkah, so perhaps it is not an appropriate place — one of an increasing number — to observe Christmas in its traditional meaning.

    I have always delighted that Christmas managed to spread out its celebrations so that non-Christians could enjoy the same holiday — with the post-Victorian, though in some cases much older, markers like a tree, a family gathering, usually at a celebratory meal, and gift-giving.

    But between secularisation of society and the politically correct actions occasioned by “inclusiveness” (which are close to “including” everyone but the group that was in at the start, as it were) there seems a determined effort to squeeze out the last traces of the fons et origo of the whole thing. Carol singers are disappearing, and the Nativity Play is almost banned in some communities. There were complaints at a Basilica near where I live about a creche that was put up — in its own grounds. It’s still there, but it was a close-run thing.

    Anyway, I love the addition of the secular songs to the canon of music celebrating this time of year, however one chooses to, and, given the beginnings of the whole thing, I find it appealingly appropriate that Jewish composers were so keenly involved.

    Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays to all.

        • Certainly not in USA. Where God and his son Jesus speak King James Bible English only. At least according to those fundamentalists who parked their van on Boston’s Boylston Street with the following statement on it (words they had printed in RED given here in CAPITAL letters):

          “SATAN set up CHRISTMAS to MAKE MOCKERY of JESUS with LIES about SANTA, FLYING REINDEERS, DRUNKEN PARTIES AND TOYS. GOD’S PEOPLE never celebrated JESUS’ BIRTHDAY. You are all LOST IN SIN AND will BURN IN HELL”

          I kid you not. Not much Holiday cheer for these folks, who won’t go to hell and thus miss the life-changing opportunity to meet with the most interesting people there while enjoying a divine martini together 😉

          חנוכה שמח and Merry Christmas

  • There’s also a lot of Jewish humour surrounding Christmas, not least this rather nice joke:

    A teacher asks his pupils what they’ll be doing for Christmas.

    Johnny says ‘We’ll open our presents and have dinner together’.

    Cathy says ‘We’ll be going to our cousins on the 25th’.

    The teacher then asks David what he’ll be doing.

    ‘Well’ says David, ‘We’re Jewish, as you know, so we don’t really celebrate Christmas in the same way, but we do go to our uncle’s toy shop on the 25th’.

    ‘Really?’ says the teacher, ‘Tell us more’.

    ‘We look at all the empty shelves and we sing a Christian hymn’

    ‘Which one?’

    ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’.

  • Correction, it appears that Festivus, the festival for the rest of us, was in fact created by an Irish Catholic. But the joy of Festivus was spread by Jews who, shockingly, appear to have not written any Festivus songs. Weird.

    • I actually did pen the lyrics to ‘The Twelve Days of Festivus’ dedicated to the Seinfeld clan. It sits in my files:

      On the first day of Festivus, Elaine gave to me: a dance ’round the Festivus pole.

      On the second day of Festivus, Elaine gave to me: two feats of strength, and a dance ’round the Festivus pole.

      On the third day of Festivus, Elaine gave to me: three airs of grievance, two feats of strength, and a dance ’round the Festivus pole.

      On the fourth day of Festivus, Elaine gave to me: four puffy shirts, three airs of grievance, two feats of strength, and a dance ’round the Festivus pole.

      On the fifth day of Festivus, Elaine gave to me: NO SOUP FOR YOU!! Four puffy shirts, three airs of grievance, two feats of strength, and a dance ’round the Festivus pole.

      On the sixth day of Festivus, Elaine gave to me: six mulligitawneys’, NO SOUP FOR YOU! Four puffy shirts, three airs of grievance, two feats of strength, and a dance ’round the Festivus pole.

      On the seventh day of Festivus, Elaine gave to me: seven ‘yadda yaddas’, six ‘mulligitawneys’, NO SOUP FOR YOU! Four puffy shirts, three airs of grievance, two feats of strength, and a dance ’round the Festivus pole.

      On the eighth day of Festivus, Elaine gave to me: Kramer’s ‘beefarino’, seven ‘yadda yaddas’, six ‘mulligitawneys’, NO SOUP FOR YOU! Four puffy shirts, three airs of grievance, two feats of strength, and a dance ’round the Festivus pole.

      On the ninth day of Festivus, Elaine gave to me: a bottle of ‘Beach’ cologne, Kramer’s ‘beefarino’, seven ‘yadda yaddas’, six ‘mulligitawneys’, NO SOUP FOR YOU! Four puffy shirts, three airs of grievance, two feats of strength, and a dance ’round the Festivus pole.

      On the tenth day of Festivus, Elaine gave to me: a doll of George’s mother, a bottle of ‘Beach’ cologne, Kramer’s ‘beefarino’, seven ‘yadda yaddas’, six ‘mulligitawneys’, NO SOUP FOR YOU! Four puffy shirts, three airs of grievance, two feats of strength, and a dance ’round the Festivus pole.

      On the eleventh day of Festivus, Elaine gave to me: eleven ‘Hello Newmans’, a doll of George’s mother, a bottle of ‘Beach’ cologne, Kramer’s ‘beefarino’ , seven ‘yadda yaddas’, six ‘mulligitawneys’, NO SOUP FOR YOU! Four puffy shirts, three airs of grievance, two feats of strength, and a dance ’round the Festivus pole.

      On—the—twelfth–day–of–Festivus, Elaine–gave–to–me: a dozen H & H bagels, eleven ‘Hello Newmans’, a doll of George’s mother, a bottle of ‘Beach’ cologne, Kramer’s ‘beefarino’, seven ‘yadda yaddas’, six ‘mulligitawneys’, NO SOUP FOR YOU! (Now slower!!) Four white puffy shirts, three airs of grievance, two feats of strength–and–a–dance–’round–the–Festivus–pole!!!!!!!!

      Lyrics by Jeffrey Biegel
      Copyright 2005

  • Methinks self-trolling Norman doth protest too much. My favorite Christmas carol was written by Adolphe Adam, supposedly at one sitting. I think Felix Mendelssohn should also count in this list, but that would be contested by some.

  • Congrats! Mr #MeToo Not So Much has now moved on to taking a passive-aggressive dump on Christmas.

    Joy of the Season to you too, I’m sure, Norman.

    To the rest of the you, Joy of the Season No Doubt!!!

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