"Santa, shmanta": Greeting cards for the December dilemma

Jeffrey Shandler, Aviva Weintraub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Since the 1980s, American card stores have been selling an unusual kind of greeting card, which marks not the celebration of a holiday per se but the seasonal coincidence of two holidays of different religions: Christmas and Hanukkah. These cards not only formalize the phenomenon often referred to as the "December dilemma" but also engage with the challenges that it epitomizes for interfaith and interethnic relationships through the rubric of a "consumer rite." This essay examines December dilemma cards as part of several larger cultural practices, including the merchandising and sending of holiday greeting cards, American celebrations of Hanukkah and Christmas, and the public culture of American multiculturalism. In addition, the essay analyzes these cards' materiality, with regard to both their form and the social practices they engender. The essay demonstrates how these cards offer structures for engaging in conversations about challenging notions of religion, community, and public culture, relating these large-scale social issues to the intimacy of home, family, and personal acquaintances. The cards are also evaluated as mediating agents, seeking to articulate a variety of strategies for accommodating and confronting challenges for a diverse American population that has been experiencing signal shifts in its understandings of difference and commonality amid a holiday season that idealizes optimism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-403
Number of pages24
JournalMaterial Religion
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Religious studies


  • Christmas
  • Greeting cards
  • Hanukkah
  • Holidays
  • Interfaith relations
  • Intermarriage
  • Multiculturalism


Dive into the research topics of '"Santa, shmanta": Greeting cards for the December dilemma'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this