In the US (and in the blogosphere), almost everything comes to a halt between Christmas and New Year's day. Even all my Jewish family and friends in the US are on vacation. It's the US equivalent of the "achrei hachagim" phenomenon that sweeps Israel every fall and spring.
Here in Israel, though, Dec. 25 is just another day. My husband and I went out for (amazing) sushi for lunch on Friday not because only Asian restaurants were open, but because we felt like soy sauce and wasabi with a little raw fish on the side. (Or maybe that was just me.) I went fabric shopping and got a great deal on Ultrasuede to reupholster my sofa. Our only rush was to get all our errands done before Shabbat, because everything shuts down from Friday night to Saturday night in Israel-- it was only part way through the day that I realized Americans were celebrating.
By the way, here's one of my favorite ways to identify true Sabras: ask them when "Chag HaMolad" (Holiday of the Birth, aka Christmas) happens. If they guess the wrong day in December, you know they're the real deal. The one possible exception might be the armies of young Israelis hawking Dead Sea products in US malls-- believe me, they understand the concept of a "holiday season."
My husband is back at work, so I've been using this time to catch up on my own rather intense backload of work for my day job. And, oh yes, Sunday's a work day. If you're an American coming to Israel, prepare for your internal clock to get confused.
There are, though, signs that Christmas happened here. Russian grocery stores send out advertising circulars covered in Christmas trees, which makes me kind of sad. I mean, yes, I know that the communists did a good job of convincing Russian Jews that these are secular New Year's Trees and should be in everyone's homes, but come on, Russim-- you're in Israel now. In the Arab neighborhoods in Haifa, a few strands of Christmas lights blink from balconies. Other than that, though, life carries on. I saw menorahs dripping in stores and booths in the mall during Chanukah, but no Christmas garlands or sales the past few days. No "Happy Holidays" from people who really mean "Merry Christmas."
It's nice. :)
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