Pop Culture

Chanukah on the Little Screen

Happy Chanukah, everyone! No matter how you like to spell it, it seems to have come pretty early, starting last night at sunset. It gets an amount of attention around this time of year disproportionate to its importance on the Jewish calendar, probably so that Christians can pretend that they’re more inclusive an accepting. I am ok with this, mostly because it results in widespread sale of delicious chocolate gelt and some seriously hilarious Chanukah-themed television episodes.

A Rugrats Chanukah
image courtesy Nickelodeon

Little Tommy Pickles is Jewish, and his Grandma Minka tells the story of Chanukah to all the babies in this episode of Rugrats from the mid-1990s. As the oldest and wisest of the Rugrats crew, Angelica Pickles reminds us it’s not just Chanukah, it’s CHanukah. You’ve gotta KHUH! when you say it! (This may or may not be why I’ve always preferred the ch spelling.) Later in the episode, the babies help Grandpa Boris and his rival from the old country remember the meaning of Chanukah. Awww, what clever babies. This is one of my all-time favorite cartoon holiday episodes.

Heck of a Hanukkah
image courtesy Disney

Before Shia LeBeouf began starring in summer blockbusters and getting himself arrested, he played annoying little brother Louis Stevens on the Disney Channel show Even Stevens. This particular holiday episode was great because it came completely out of nowhere. Except for the could-be-Jewish-could-be-WASPs surname, there’s no hint that the Stevens family is Jewish before this. Like any good troublemaking kid, Louis stumbles across the family Chanukah presents then manages to destroy them all. Everyone freaks out, and he wishes he had never been born. Cue the It’s a Wonderful LIfe rip-off in which he discovers his value in the family, blah blah blah.

image courtesy Fox

I am so embarrassed to admit that I ever watched The O.C., even for a season or two. In my defense, Adam Brody is very cute. Anyway, for those of you stronger than I who don’t know, the Cohen family is an interfaith household and celebrate the commercialized joy of Chrismukkah, which is “eight days of presents followed by one day of many presents.” This is Orange County, after all. The first season’s holiday episode is typically angst-filled as Seth tries to introduce the holiday to his girlfriend, whose name thankfully escapes me. And everyone lives happily ever after, or something. The most notable thing about Chrismukkah is the invention of yarmulkes that look like Santa hats. Hi-larious.

The One With the Holiday Armadillo
image courtesy NBC

Of course, no list of Chanukah episodes would be complete without this addition from Friends. Ross and Monica are part Jewish, and Ross wants to share his holiday with his son Ben. By the time Ross’ lesbian ex-wife and her partner convince him to suck it up and get a Santa costume, of course it’s too late, and they’ve all been rented. All he can find is this hilarious armadillo costume, billing himself as The Holiday Armadillo, Santa’s Part-Jewish Friend. Unexpectedly, Chandler shows up in an actual Santa suit, but he helps keeps Ben’s attention long enough for Ross The Holiday Armadillo to teach him a little bit about Chanukah.

There are other nods to Chanukah out there, but these are some of the best. Keep your eye out for them throughout the holiday this week (or more likely, as it gets closer to Christmas and tv execs think that that’s when it’s actually Chanukah)!

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