In the absence of an appropriate support group, I need to make a confession. My name is Dina and I didn't know what an advent calendar was until I was 18 years old.
When you grow up in a Jewish household, there are certain things you won't encounter in December; advent calendars, pine trees, tinsel, turkeys, mistletoe, Santa, crackers and...I can't really think of anything else Christmas-sy.
Obviously I was aware of Christmas, conceptually. I'd even starred in a nativity play at school but didn't understand the symbolism of the props, as evidenced by my throwing baby Jesus across the stage at one of the wise men (which I now know is unacceptable and a letter of apology followed shortly). I'd just never really noticed how big it was.
So, it took me living in a university hall of residence before my first real brush with the advent.
Rather than being enthused by the spirit of the season, I was disconcerted. How many other British traditions was I totally unaware of? Why do people wait 25 days before eating all the chocolate?
A whole other world, and one which I had no way of relating to. Now we're here again, that time of the year when I and - judging by anecdotal conversations - my fellow Jews feel slightly divorced from mainstream society.
It's not that I don't like Christmas. I just don't understand it.
Part of it is jealousy. Say what you want about Chanukah, but I have a sneaking suspicion it's just not as good. How can eight days of doughnuts (google it) compare to the most wonderful time of the year?
Then there's having to explain yourself. People get this strange look in their eye when you tell them that no, you're not looking forward to Christmas because you don't celebrate it. It's an almost indescribable mixture of pity, fear and bewilderment.
So, each year, I try to get through the holiday season with voluntary or paid work (Crisis at Christmas, by the way, is full of Jews doing the same) while my friends hide away with their families.
Occasionally, someone will take pity on me and I'll get an invite for Christmas dinner. But I'll never really know how good Christmas is for everyone else, or understand why people seem to like it so much, or why the season of joy and goodwill to all men is restricted to 12 days.
So, with that off my chest, I leave you with this video. To my knowledge it remains the most honest and engaging description of how my people feel every time 25 December rolls around.
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