In almost one quarter of American married couples, the husband and wife come from different religious backgrounds. At this time of year, when Christian, Jewish, and cultural African American holidays often overlap, many of these “blended” families, as we call them, cheerfully combine traditions. Families playing a game with a spinning Hanukkah top called a dreidel one minute are playing Christmas music the next. Elsewhere, Christmas-tree lights glimmer beneath a mantle where the red, green, and black candles representing Kwanzaa's seven principles are burning brightly.
Gift giving in these blended households can last for days. And hybrid holiday merchandise abounds. The MixedBlessing Greeting Card Company of North Carolina, for instance, sells a line of clever Chrismukkah cards and stories.
Virgin Mobile USA, an American branch of Richard Branson's business empire, has gone Chrismukkah one better. It has splashed the Internet with a multicultural jingle promoting its line of cellular phones:
“It's OK if you're a Muslim, a Christian or a Jew. It's OK if you're agnostic, and you don't know what to do. An all-inclusive celebration -- no contractual obligation: Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah to you…and pagans, too!”
In the cartoon video, a black angel with an enormous Afro hairdo, a reindeer with antlers shaped like the Hanukkah candelabra, and a sitar-playing Santa Claus perform a Chrismahanukwanzakah song, singing “this is going to be the best Chrismahanukwanzakah ever!”
The name of the song is Snowflakes, which is fitting. No two snowflakes are alike. And more and more, neither are American families.