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Mama Deb
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December 2010
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Mama Deb [userpic]
Maybe I'm paranoid?

Was there a reason that the sign-ups for Yuletide were announced on a Jewish holiday?

Seriously - it was hree days ago. If someone on my flist hadn't said something this morning, I'd never have known. Add to that the fact that nominations were done during the week of Yom Kippur and Sukkot, so I had NO time to do it.

A girl could get a complex.


Your journal, so you have every right to gripe. Just a few thoughts:

Yule is Winter Solstice. While the term has been co-opted by Christians to overwrite pre-existing European celebrations ... Yule is still a solstice celebration, a holiday to mark the return the light. Which is pretty common in most Northern Hemisphere cultures. Yuletide simply means -- season of the winter solstice.

It also takes place in a time of gift-giving (livening up the drab days of winter!), and these stories, and the moderators' efforts, are a gift.

If you feel slighted, that's your right. But ... not everything is about you, any more than it's about me or anyone else.

In 2000-2001, the Jewish population of America was roughly between and five and a half and six million. That's roughly 2% of the entire population. And that doesn't mean they are all observant. Chances are there was no one involved in organizing who was truly aware of the confluence of dates, or for whom it was an issue, even if they were, themselves, Jewish. They may have known, oh. Yeah. Holidays. But it probably wasn't in the same part of the brain going "Must get a, b and all the way through z done to get things running!"

These people are trying, on top of their other commitments, such as family and jobs and friends, to get a huge undertaking going, something they give a lot of their time for. Things will slip through the cracks. They probably aren't considering Jewish, Muslim or ANY religion's dates.

If this is truly important enough, big enough of an issue that you're upset enough to post this ... then maybe you should avail your services to the organizers in the future. Offer to help them plan their scheduling. Become the voice that you think needs to be heard in a proactive and positive way. Multicultural education doesn't hurt, after all. But those in the know tend to have to provide "leadership" to those who aren't.


They probably aren't considering Jewish, Muslim or ANY religion's dates.

Um-- except for the part where stories go live on December 25, which was not exactly a random choice.

No, you're right. But that date, more often than not, shouldn't conflict with her religious obligations in general. The comment was meant to address the area she was initially complaining about -- how the organizational process happened to intersect with a long spate of Jewish holy days. And at THIS time ... they're probably not looking at religious holidays, just counting back from the reveal.

And even the final date is chosen with the more secular holiday aspects in mind, rather than the religious ones. A number of non-Christians in Canada (including my very devoutly Sikh neighbours) simply treat it as a secular, gift-giving and family-gathering time. Perhaps it's different down in the US?


And at THIS time ... they're probably not looking at religious holidays, just counting back from the reveal.

As someone else in this thread pointed out, if the sign-ups announcement had coincided with a big con weekend, they'd probably have been shifted-- or it would have at least been considered. Even that much awareness of/consideration for Jewish holidays, I think, would have been appreciated.

As for Christmas being a secular holiday... No, it isn't. Christmas *is a religious holiday*. Maybe a better way of saying it is-- it's a *culturally* Christian holiday. I mean, you don't have to be devout to celebrate Passover or Hanukkah, but that doesn't change the fact that they are religious, culturally Jewish holidays. And if someone started a challenge and called it "I Had A Little Dreidel" and everyone got some holiday gelt, and it coincided with Hanukkah every year, it would be silly to say "Well, there's no reason anyone should think of this as a culturally-Jewish-themed challenge," ... wouldn't it?

Yes, it is more like "Giftmas" these days for a lot of people-- for Christians, atheists and people of lots of other religions. But it's not religiously unmarked or neutral. Having a challenge named after a Christmas carol, that calls its participants Santas, and goes live on December 25, so that everyone can have a present on Christmas Day... it's a culturally Christmas-themed exchange.

And there's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with *having* a Secret Santa exchange that goes live on December 25. Absolutely nothing at all. But there's something really disturbing about the way people get jumped on when they point out that it *does* have these culturally Christian elements to it. "No it isn't! It's completely neutral! There's absolutely no reason to overreact to something so utterly neutral!"

You wonder how they'd react if the tables were turned and they had to participate in the Dreidel Challenge instead.

This response is absolutely wonderful. Thank you.

Thank you.

I'd participate in the Dreidel challenge, if so invited.

I would love to participate in a 'Dreidel' challenge!

Maybe next year one can be organized?

Maybe. :)

Could be cool. Might just be on the same order as this years daysofawesome challenge.

Except - pick a character who isn't canonically Jewish. Or something.

Hmm. You have an interesting point here, regarding the meaning of the word "Yule", but I think I'll have to disagree.

I would argue that this: While the term has been co-opted by Christians to overwrite pre-existing European celebrations -- is a lot more important than it sounds. The present use of a cultural marker is, I think, just as important as a past use, possibly even more so. Especially since our cultural memory is so short. For example, a hundred and fifty years ago, Scots didn't think of kilts and tartans as clan markers in exactly way that they do today; we still had family tartans, but our use of them has changed drastically over the last couple centuries. Likewise, a hundred and fifty years ago there was really no Thanksgiving holiday, not in any way that you or I would recognize, but it is now an extremely important part of American cultural identity, and is a national and bank holiday.

I understand your argument -- that the word "Yule" doesn't imply exactly the denomination mamadeb thinks it does -- but I disagree. I think that because it has been co-opted, because it is currently used interchangeably with the name of a Christian holiday season by most Americans, it cannot only be thought of as a Solstice celebration, and not even primarily thought of as one.

Mostly right - if you say "Yule" to most English speakers, they will think Christmas, even if they are aware of the actual origin of the term. And that does include me.

But the other thing is, well. It's not so much that Christmas is *Christian* that makes it a problem. It's that it's a non-Jewish religious festival. Pagan is just as forbidden.

True. You're right; I didn't think of that.

You're making a number of assumptions there.

Assumption 1: That it makes a difference to my practices if a holiday or holiday name is of pagan or Christian origin. I am *forbidden* to celebrate such holidays, and the only reason I acknowledge their existence is that the secular western world is organized around them. You're not forced to recognize my holidays, so they're not apparently worth noticing.

Assumption 2: That the gift-giving aspect of the holiday is at all meaningful to me. It's not - my family never gave Chanukah gifts, and the only reason I do so now is that one takes on one's husband's family customs, and his *does* - for immediate family and for the pre-college age kids at the family party. I see no reason why gifts should be concentrated during one time of year. And I do participate in other gift exchange ficathons during the year (and here I must give thanks to the reversathon moderators, who were more accomodating than I could ever ask for.)

Assumption 3: That I am unaware of my minority status, and so I need to be told. Tell me, would you say the same thing to someone of color? And thank you for telling me that, while I know all about Christian holidays and *should* know about pagan customs, no needs to know about mine.

I complained. I have a right to complain, which you did say. Do I expect my complaints to change anything? No, but I do have a right to have my issues heard. I may have said it wrong, but at least I'm not saying that someone else's beliefs are not worth considering.

And I'm more than aware of the magnitude of what these people are doing. It's huge and complex and I don't know how they manage it. I give them full credit for this.

If you're forbidden to participate in the celebration of holidays that are non-Jewish and Yuletide is, as you've clearly pointed out, obviously a Christmas celebration, then why on earth are you participating in it or wanting to participate in it at all?

And I'm not jerking your chain here, I am honestly asking why you would even consider participating in something with obvious non-Jewish religious implications considering how seriously you take your observance? Changing the name of Yuletide to something neutral would only change its name, not its context.

And that is a good question. I did NOT participate for that reason for the first two years. And found my feelings of marginalization during December to be doubled because this is exactly the sort of challenge I love. And it only exists like this. Not only wasn't I going to the big party everyone else was so excited about, I couldn't even go to the more fun one which actually had food I could eat.

Finally, after two years, I, with tremendous guilt, decided to participate. It wasn't the most positive of experiences the first time, but that was just luck of the draw, and I decided to do it again the following year.

And found myself so distracted by the story that the normal raving bitch of December didn't show up until fairly late in the game.

But I may have whined myself out of participating this year.

So in other words you're a hypocrite who relaxes her religious observance when it feels uncomfortable and deprives you of fun -- which pretty much makes you like everyone else on the planet.

I'm not exactly watching tv on Shabbat or Yom Tov. I've resigned myself to not catching up on what I've missed. There's a lot of fun I've given up in the name of religious observance.

I objected to the NAME. I've never done more than object to the NAME. And, yes, I *do* feel like a hypocrite for taking part in this. Not that I think I can this year.

Could you get a DVR to automatically record tv you miss or would that be cheating?

I understand your frustration with the name, but honestly, I don't think changing just the name changes the context of the event itself. I used to work in an office where we held a lot of potlucks and birthday parties. One of our co-workers was a Jehovah's Witness and she couldn't participate in anything due to her religious prohibitions against birthdays and holidays. So we changed the name of the Thanksgiving potluck to the Fall Potluck or something so she could lie to herself about what the event was celebrating, but for the rest of us? We were still celebrating Thanksgiving. A rose by any other name is still a, well, you know...

I have two VCRs and many of the shows I watch are also on streaming video. It's also matter of finding the time. (But I'd love a DVR. I'm going to call my cable company about getting one.) I decided to not worry about it - they'll come round again. I'm happy I'm actually watching my tape of SGA.

It does come to the choices that you make. Sometimes, it comes down to a moment of deciding to post something stupid.

We've all done that when it comes to posting something stupid. This will all blow over in a few days. Don't worry yourself too much. There's been some interesting and illuminating conversation around it so sometimes saying something stupid leads to better discussions.

Alos, DVRs Rule!

It will all blow over with half of Livejournal thinking I'm this awful bitch who isn't satisfied with eleven days to sign up for a ficathon, and whose friends won't even say good things about her. (I understand why, but that doesn't make it hurt less.)

And I can't even set the record straight.

Of course you can set the record straight! While you've responded to comments, you haven't made any kind of follow-up clarifying post in your LJ that addresses the situation in general, but there is no reason that you can't and it is how most people handle things when they get caught out like this. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and take some meaningful action. If you're afraid of more blow back as a result of a new post, just turn off comments.

It's a good idea, but that should wait until I'm calmer. Posting when I'm emotional is a *bad* idea.

I agree. Good to give yourself a little distance first. Take care!