Hanukkah, or The Festival of Lights, is an eight night holiday celebrated by the Jewish people. While it usually overlaps with Christmas time, one thing’s for sure: Hanukkah doesn’t have the same great representation in television.
Popular TV shows have had Christmas specials for decades, and the few that have attempted to embrace Hanukkah never really achieved the same cultural charm as specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas or A Very Brady Christmas. Here are the three shows that did, however, get Hanukkah right.
In “The One with the Holiday Armadillo,” Ross wants to introduce Hanukkah to his son Ben who is half Jewish. Ross deals with the biggest problem Hanukkah has—bad marketing. Hanukkah doesn’t have a great mascot like Santa, and the rabbis in charge of holiday planning really need to look into having a face to represent the holiday. Long story short, Ross dresses up as the titular Holiday Armadillo, and along with help from jolly St. Nick himself, the two show Ben that both holidays can spread joy and cheer in people’s lives.
Seth Cohen showed us that you could have your Menorah and eat your candy cane too. His hybrid holiday “Chrismukkah” takes the best of Christmas and Hanukkah and blends them together. In the iconic episode, “The Best Chrismukkah Ever,” the elements of Hanukkah are celebrated, but don’t feel preachy, and the holiday lends itself perfectly to the show’s drama and comedy. It’s still a goal of mine to wear a Yamaclaus—the Santa Claus hat and Kippah mashup featured in Season 2’s Chrismukkah episode aka the perfect accessory for any occasion. Since The O.C. aired, Chrismukkah has become a recognizable and socially accepted holiday near and dear to the hearts of pop culture aficionados (and gentiles) everywhere.
If you’re thinking, “I want to learn about Hanukkah but I don’t feel like reading a book,” look no further than Rugrats’ Hanukkah special. This is the Charlie Brown Christmas of Hanukkah. This episode, originally aired in 1996, gives the whole Hanukkah spiel—complete with Bubbies, Latkes and Kvetching. “A Rugrats Hanukkah ” has some laugh-out-loud moments, incorporating the story of Judah Maccabee, Dreidels and Torah into the episode’s narrative. In classic Rugrats style, the babies try and help Zaidie Boris defeat his childhood rival who is performing with him in a Synagogue play. In the end, the babies’ curiosity for the meaning of Hanukkah brings everyone together, which is the perfect reminder that the most important part of the holiday season is family.