For years, Jews and Christians of all ages have debated the merits of their respective holidays. It's been a source of controversy almost as long as the argument over who killed you-know-who. Admittedly, the holiday debate hasn't been quite as intense as that. Still, this eternal question arouses strong passions. Until now, there has never been any objective comparison of the two December gift-giving holidays.

Here, at last, readers have an opportunity to make up their own minds on this issue. With a completely impartial neutrality, I present the results of an exhaustive comparative study.

Pronunciation HAN-eh-kuh, sometimes pronounced
with a gutteral ch (not SHA-nu-kay)
Date Dec. 4-11 (varies annually) Dec. 25
(the same old day every year)
Gift-giving days Eight Only one (OK, theoretically 12)
Traditional foods Delicious potato pancakes (latkes),
homemade applesauce, luscious red wine
Turkey, Wonder bread, soggy pumpkin pie
Ornaments Elegant candelabra (menorah) Oversized fir trees, silly aluminum
balls, garlands of popcorn
Customs Playing with charming spinning top
(dreidel), playing hide-and-seek for
money (gelt), singing ancient exotic songs
Watching TV, singing jingles,
drinking eggnog
Traditional gifts Sports cars, HDTV consoles,
Palm Pilot handheld
computing devices, cell phones,
mink stoles
Perfume, handkerchiefs,
toaster ovens
Reason for celebrating The inspiring revolt of the Maccabees
against tyranny and the triumphant
recapture of the Temple in Jerusalem
Birth of a single child in Bethlehem
Miracles The burning of the Temple's
"Eternal Light" for eight days with
only a day's supply of oil.
Virgin birth
Principal hero Judah "the Hammer" Maccabee Jesus Christ
Holiday hassles Counting gifts Buying trees, decorating the house,
returning gifts
Vacations Yes (but not for Gentiles) Yes (all schools and offices closed)
Commercialism None Omnipresent

These, then, are the major differences between the two holidays. By coolly examining the facts, readers will finally be able to answer for themselves the age-old controversy. I personally haven't made up my mind yet.

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