Join UC Davis Jewish Studies and Prof. Rebecca Wollenberg to discover a 500-year old Jewish Christmas Eve tradition!
Christmas has long been a fraught time for Jews. On Christmas Eve, European Jews would avoid Torah study (still practiced in some communities today), and instead hold loud parties where they would stay up late, gamble, eat garlic, and sometimes read Jewish legends about Jesus. Why? At the time, many Jews AND Christians believed that powerful spiritual forces were at work on Christmas Eve: demons, talking animals, and even a shared Jewish AND Christian folk belief that on this day, Jesus would come back from the dead--sometimes, oddly, to haunt latrines and outhouses, and sometimes to visit Jewish homes. Gathering for a loud party - and eating lots of garlic, a known mode of protection from supernatural forces - was one way Jews got through a holiday that was alienating and sometimes even dangerous, but utterly unavoidable in the Christian world around them.
Prof. Rebecca Wollenberg of the University of Michigan will introduce this tradition and how it draws on spooky Jewish AND Christian Christmas lore, we'll look at some risque Jewish texts (definitely NOT the Torah), and we'll invite guests to share other Jewish Christmas traditions. Bring your own garlic and dice!
Please register here: https://ucdavis.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJcqdeyuqTkqGNCmHfxxSJs00D-cvmskKLD8
Please find Prof. Wollenberg's article on Nittel Nacht at this link if you'd like to read ahead - not required!! https://www.academia.edu/16775699/The_Ghost_in_the_Privy_The_Origins_of_Nittel_Nacht_and_Modes_of_Cultural_Exchange