De Gruyter Advent Calendar | Door 9
MERRY CHRIS... ERM, SEASON'S GREETINGS!
If you live and work in a German city like Berlin, it's easy to forget that not everyone gets into the Christmas spirit at Yuletide. All over the city, Christmas trees and Christmas markets are being set up. And there's also the De Gruyter advent calendar, which – as its name suggests – draws upon the Christian tradition of advent.
Today however, since we count colleagues with the most diverse of origins, cultures and religions among our workforce, not only at our Berlin site but also in our offices in Beijing, Boston, Basel, Munich and Vienna, we will open an interreligious door in the calendar and look at the Christian Christmas through different eyes for a change.
An article in the journal HUMOR is there to help us. In "A festivus for the restivus" the authors, Eric Shouse and Bernard Timberg, examine how Jewish-American comedians deal in an entertaining way with the omnipresence of Christmas in the western hemisphere. Because let's face it: it isn't easy to escape Christmas in the United States, either.
Hanukkah Harry stands in for a sick Santa
Hanukkah Harry is a sketch on the Saturday Night Live comedy show. Santa Claus is laid up with 'flu and so, instead of fleeing the festivities as usual, Hanukkah Harry – played by Jon Lovitz – takes on his job. It soon becomes clear that Hanukkah Harry has somewhat different ideas to Santa Claus when it comes to delivering the presents. For example, he takes a different view of children who have been naughty. And instead of expensive toys, he hands out eight pairs of socks, so that the presents last for the eight nights of Hanukkah.
The Christian children are puzzled at first, but then they understand: Christianity and Judaism are not all that different after all.
A festivus instead of Christmas
The authors of the Seinfeld episode entitled "A festivus for the restivus" take this idea a stage further. In this episode, the father of George Costanza, one of the protagonists, comes up with his own Antichristmas after fighting with another customer over the last doll in a store whilst doing his Christmas shopping. Since then, an aluminium rod has taken the place of the family's Christmas tree. Instead of giving presents, everyone tells each other individually how disappointed they have been by them this year. Finally, at the end of the evening, a kind of wrestling match is held to find the strongest member of the household.
Since it was first broadcast by Seinfeld, this anti-celebration has gained many faithful followers in real life and offers an alternative – one critical of consumerism – to the traditional Christmas, particularly in the USA. It goes without saying that the rules of the festivus should not be taken all too seriously.
Whether Hanukkah or the Catholic Christmas, the Chinese New Year or the Islamic festival of Bayram: we wish all our users, irrespective of their religious persuasion and whatever the time of year, the season's greetings!
Do you want to read more about today's subject?
"A festivus for the restivus", the highly entertaining article by Eric Shouse and Bernard Timberg, was published in De Gruyter's "Humor" magazine.
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