It may be Halloween season, but the scariest thing I’ve seen all week comes from an unexpected source: the Hanukkah merch aisle at Target.
Behold this Hanukkah hooded blanket, designed by a person who, I sincerely hope, has never celebrated Hanukkah. This navy monstrosity features what appears to be a haunted menorah with salad fingers-like candles on an oversized hood, plus and shiny gold gloves to keep your hands warm because… I’m not sure?
I have questions — many questions. Namely, what???? Why???? Who???
And now the coherent ones: What is this blanket meant to represent? Just a standard hanukkiah/menorah? And if so, why does it have golden hands? Do they represent gelt? Why does it feel like they are perfect for knife-wielding? Is this meant to be… the spirit of Hanukkah? And if it is the spirit of my favorite wintertime Jewish holiday, why do I want to run, screaming, away from it?
As Evelyn Frick, my colleague over at Alma, wrote on Twitter: “target is selling a comfy infused with the spirit of hanukkah……….and that spirit is absolutely haunted.”
target is selling a comfy infused with the spirit of hanukkah……….and that spirit is absolutely haunted pic.twitter.com/mHH14gN3g0
— evelyn “my dad has seen a ghost” frick (@evelyngfrick) October 22, 2021
All I can imagine is yelping in fear every morning when I walk into my dark living room and see this blanket folded on the couch. This feels more like a prop for a Hanukkah-themed haunted house than anything I want to cuddle with while watching “The Rugrats” Hanukkah special. I feel like I’d need to paint my face blue every time and draw sinister Jewish symbols on my floor every time I wear it. Perhaps even invite a minyan — excuse me, cabal — of Jewish blanket-wearers to join me in a practice of Jewish dark arts?
As I write this, I realize I’m becoming very invested in this Hanukkah blanket starring as the evil killer in a Hanukkah horror film. Can we please make this happen? Some title suggestions include: “I Know What You Did These Last 8 Nights,” “Maccabeetown,” “Friday the 13th: The 4th Candle,” “Train to Judea,” “Purge: The Hasmonean Edition” and “The Jewish Witch.” But happy to entertain your ideas, too.
To get a little serious here, though not because I do not think this is a very serious issue: I feel like this blanket is emblematic of all that goes wrong when people try to make Hanukkah merch. They try to just copy-paste what they know to be Hanukkah symbols on existing molds of holiday merchandise — and it just really doesn’t work.
Hanukkah doesn’t have cute elves, Santa, Grinches, and other enticingly commercial symbols. But instead of maybe trying to create new ones, people just lazily paste menorahs, Jewish stars, and words like “challah” and “oy” on things, “Put a Bird on It”- style, without really understanding the spirit of this holiday (which, I hasten to add, is definitely not terrifying).
Then again, perhaps I’m not being fair. After all, this blanket is like no other Hanukkah item out there — it brings Hanukkah holiday merch to a new, nonsensical yet terrifying realm, and I have to admit, I sort of respect that? Just please don’t wear it around me.