The Corner

The one and only.

Stiffening Derb’s Anti-Multi-Culti Spine


A reader: “Well, I’m afraid your anti-mulitculturalist credentials _are_
slipping a bit. No one doubts that Hanukkah is a real holiday, and I am
glad you enjoyed the Hanukkah ceremony at your friends’ home. But one of
the main reasons Christmas has been marginalized and even the word
’Christmas’ is disappearing from public discourse is because Hanukkah has
been elevated to a position out of all proportion to its traditionally minor
significance. And the success Hanukkah has enjoyed in gaining public
recognition has inspired the more recent success of Kwanzaa, Ramadan, and
other winter festivals in gaining prominence in America, all at the expense
of Christmas.

“It is rather easy making a distinction between Christmas and all these
others. As I drove into work this morning, one of our local classical
stations played ‘Lift Up Your Head, O Ye Gates’ from ‘Messiah,’ one of
Torelli’s Christmas concerti, John Henry Neale’s translation of ‘In Dulci
Christian Men, Rejoice’–and a fantasia of carols by Ralph Vaughn Williams.
Neither Hanukkah nor the other winter festivals have anything to match even
this very tiny portion of all the great art inspired by or associated with
Christmas. However, once we admit that Hanukkah should be treated as the
equal of Christmas, despite the fact that its significance in Western
culture is close to zero and its significance in traditional Judaism is
minor, we really cannot complain about Kwanzaa or Ramadan. And this leads
us, inevitably, to ‘Happy Holidays’ and ‘winter concerts’ featuring Kwanzaa
songs. Merry Christmas!”

Just one nit to pick there. Since the Islamic calendar is strictly lunar
(unlike the Chinese, by the way, which has lunar months but throws an extra
month in every 3 years or so to keep the years in sync), Islamic festivals
“float” through the Gregorian year at a rate of roughly 11 days a year, i.e.
on a roughly 33-year cycle. Thus Ramadan can occur in midsummer, or
midwinter, or at any other point in the solar year. It is therefore
impossible to “fix” any one Islamic celebration to coincide with
Christmas–even approximately, as is done with Hanukkah.


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review