I remember watching the “Rugrats” Hanukkah special when it first aired in 1996. I remember enjoying it a lot–but I can’t pretend to say I necessarily got all of the references at the time. Considering Hanukkah is only days away, I decided to rewatch the holiday special, and let me tell you, it really holds up.
Even though it’s been 20 years since the special first aired, it still proves to be one of the best around–which both illustrates that the show was ahead of its time–and that Hanukkah is still underrepresented in the media.
Here some things I realized after rewatching the episode again:
1. The whole “Maccababy” joke/pun is ingenious.
2. Where are their parents? Seriously, they seem to be gone most of the episode. Maybe the moral of the story is don’t let your kids near open flames?
3. In one scene, there’s a building with a sign over the door with Hebrew writing on it that reads “mohel.” There’s also a sign next to the door saying they offer them at a cut rate. Yup. I see what you did there.
4. Tommy perfectly summarizes Hanukkah for kids:
“I don’t know. But every night I have to wear a funny hat while Grandpa Boris says some stuff I don’t understand and Mommy lights another candle.”
5. And so does Angelica:
“Chanukah is that special time of year between Christmas and Misgiving when all the bestest holiday shows are on TV.”
6. There’s a character called Mr. Dreidel.
7. The word “kvetch” is used by the family’s rabbi:
“Attention, everybody! Fred King is sick tonight, so Lowell Onsteen will be playing the part of the village kvetch.”
8. It’s the cutest thing ever to see Tommy and Chuckie in yarmulkes.
Bonus Fun Fact: This episode, along with other episodes featuring Boris and his wife, Minka, attracted major controversy when the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) claimed that the two characters resembled anti-Semitic drawings that were featured in a 1930s Nazi newspaper. Nickelodeon’s then-president, Albie Hecht (who is Jewish), called the accusation absurd.
Oh the things we see when we get older. Happy Hanukkah!