Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah to You!
Dec. 10, 2004 — -- Move over, Festivus. Chrismahanukwanzakah is the alternative December holiday du jour.
Or maybe you both light candles and decorate a tree, so you'd like to officially celebrate Chrismukkah this year.
As nontraditional "holidays" go, things have come a long way since "Seinfeld's" Frank Costanza introduced "a Festivus for the rest of us" back in 1997.
This year, Chrismahanukwanzakah -- devoted to "everything people love about the holidays" -- will fall on Dec. 13, courtesy of Virgin Mobile and its new ad campaign. And the 18-day-long Chrismukkah observance began Dec. 7, according to Ron Gompertz, owner of Chrismukkah.com, a Web site devoted to the celebration of the holiday.
Gompertz, who is Jewish, and his wife, Michelle, who is the daughter of a Protestant minister, were inspired by an episode of Fox's "The OC" in which Seth Cohen coins the phrase describing his interfaith family's Christmas and Hanukkah traditions.
"Chrismukkah is sort of the great umbrella name for describing the chaos and whimsy and excitement that goes on during the month of December," Gompertz said.
What started as a small online venture -- selling Chrismukkah cards and other items commemorating both faiths -- has blossomed into something of a Chrismukkah miracle. Gompertz said he and his wife anticipated selling a few thousand cards -- featuring such images as a reindeer with menorah antlers or a snowman made out of matzoh balls -- but within the first month of being in business they sold 25,000.
"We're sharing a point of view with many, many people who are in the same situation as we are," he said. "I don't think I realized how many."
Perhaps not, but the number of interfaith families is growing. According to a survey released last year by United Jewish Communities, there are 5.2 million Jewish people in America, and 31 percent of those who are married have spouses of other faiths. And of those married since 1996, 47 percent have intermarried.
While this raises serious issues of how religion is practiced in such households, the creators of Chrismukkah are promoting the purely secular aspects of Christianity and Judaism through the mingled symbols and traditions of holidays that happen to both involve gift-giving and occur in the same month.