Hanukkah in popular culture: a celebration

Darren Richman
Tuesday 12 December 2017 16:30
discover
Picture:(Warner Bros. Television / Getty )

When is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah begins on the evening of 12th December and lasts eight days.

What is Hanukkah?

It's a Jewish holiday celebrating the story of the Maccabees, a guerrilla army of Jewish rebels who reclaimed the temple in Jerusalem but only had enough oil to last one day and yet, miraculously, the seven-pronged Menorah candle stayed lit for eight days.

Chanukah is the festival of lights, instead of one day of presents we have eight crazy nights.

So sang Adam Sandler on his 1996 album, What the Hell Happened to Me? The ditty, where the comedian lists as many notable Jews as he can inside four minutes, centres on the feelings of isolation many Jews can feel during the Christmas period. It's funny, heartfelt and captures a fundamental truth; the festival has always been in the shadow of its Christian counterpart.

A more wholesome Hanukkah treat comes in the form of the majestic A Rugrats Chanukah from 1996, in which Tommy and his pals are reimagined as Maccababies. It's funny, touching and educational - a perfect slice of children's entertainment that deserves to be considered in the holiday canon alongside classics like The Muppet Christmas Carol.

In season seven of Friends, Ross attempts to educate his son on the Jewish side of his heritage and realises how difficult it is to compete with Santa et al. His innovation? The Holiday Armadillo of course.

Seth Cohen in The O.C. had an even better solution to his dual identity - blending both festivals into "the greatest super-holiday known to mankind" with the catchy portmanteau name, Chrismukkah. Chrismukkah involved "eight days of presents followed by one day of many presents" and for that, it should surely be applauded.

Adam Goldberg, known for playing Chandler's roommate Eddie in Friends, starred in The Hebrew Hammer in 2003. This is a film that closes with the words, “No animals or gentiles were harmed in the making of this movie.” Taglines include, “Part man. Part street. 100% kosher” and “He's Not Bad, He's Cha-baad.” It is quite possibly the only jewsploitation picture in cinema history and has to be seen to be believed.

Last and by all means least is Eight Crazy Nights, an Adam Sandler vehicle that derives its name from his iconic musical number and a film that brings us full circle. Unfortunately, it lacks the warmth, wit or charm associated with that song and tanked at the box office. For those that can face it, the trailer is below.

More: Hanukkah 2017: What is the meaning behind this Jewish festival and why is it sometimes called Chanukah?

Trending