When Natalie Portman appeared on Jimmy Fallon at the end of November to promote her movie, Jackie, she let the world in on a little secret: “It’s like every Jew’s secret wish to have a Christmas tree,” she told him. “It took 35 years to get here! My whole life, no Christmas tree, and then all of the sudden they have this great excuse.”
That “great excuse” would be the Hebrew lunisolar calendar. Months are based on lunar months, but years are based on solar years, and while that all sounds a little confusing, there’s one main point that’s, quite literally, a cause for celebration this year: Hanukkah started on Christmas Eve. Even though the start of the holiday already passed, that doesn’t mean we can’t keep the spirit alive.
Viva Chrismukkah! Trees for everyone! Pass the Manischewitz!
The possibilities for merged holiday celebrations this year are endless, but we’ve got a few tips to make your Chrismukkah a stunner.
If you’ve always wanted to give (or open) a present on Christmas Eve, you’re in luck! The Hanukkah gift-giving custom means one per night for all eight nights. Need a gift idea? Hanukkah gelt is traditionally given to the children, but you might want to reserve a gourmet version for the adults.
Or, might we recommend an ugly Chrismukkah sweater? Or, how about a Yamaclaus, a hybrid Yarmulke and Santa hat like the one Adam Brody’s character, Seth Cohen, played on the 2003–2007 TV show The O.C. After all, it was Cohen who first coined the term Chrismukkah in Season Four of the show with this genius dialogue: “So what’s it gonna be, huh? Your menorah or your candy cane? Hmm? Christmas or Hanukkah? Ah! Don’t worry about it, buddy, because in this house, you don’t have to choose. Allow me to introduce you to a little something I like to call Chrismukkah.”
Make a Great Meal
It’s safe to say ham won’t be an appropriate choice for your main dish on Chrismukkah, so how about roast beef tenderloin with garlic and rosemary. “This recipe method combines high-heat searing for a crusty, well-seasoned exterior, with low-temperature roasting for a perfectly even and very tender interior,” said Bon Appetit. “Truly the best of both worlds.”
The potato latke-uninitiated may not be clamoring to dig into the pile of mounded, shredded, fried potatoes, but they will once they take a bite—especially if you make Bobby Flay’s potato pancakes with chunky Granny Smith applesauce and cinnamon creme fraiche. You can always do store-bought applesauce and sour cream, but why not take it up a notch for this special night?
To drink? A rosemary-concord shrub, made with Concord grapes, rosemary, and vodka. You get the grapey flavor of Jewish wine but with a cocktail twist.
And don’t forget about dessert. Donuts, called sufganiyot, are a staple of Hanukkah. You can powder them, stuff them with your favorite jelly, or add in a seasonal angle like with this pumpkin version. The combination of pumpkin puree and coconut milk give these some yummy zip.
Finally, it’s not a holiday celebration without cookies, and you don’t have to give up Christmas cookies or Hanukkah cookies for this hybrid celebration. Go ahead and make some of each, or, even better, bake up some of these magical delights, which blend gingerbread with rugelach.
Make it Entertaining
For decoration, this dreidel wreath perfectly captures the spirit of Chrismukkah and can be used again and again, even when the holidays don’t coincide. It would also make a great craft for the kids to work on at your celebration. Looking to bring a festive gift to your hosts? This braided brioche wreath is “edible décor appropriate for both occasions,” said the New York Times.
Need a little entertainment with your celebration? You won’t want to show up without a copy of Music from the O.C. Mix 3: Have a Very Merry Chrismukkah Soundtrack.