The stage musical later turned motion picture Fiddler on the Roof, was about a group of Jewish people living under the tyranny of Imperial Russia (under the Tzars and long before Lenin, Stalin, and the Bolsheviks) in a small village called Anatevka. In the opening of the story, Tevye breaks the fourth wall to describe what the term “Fiddler on the Roof” means. That the Traditions of the Jewish people held in that small village require Balance or otherwise they take a great fall and break their necks. Throughout the story, these Traditions are challenged if not modified for better or worse…not just by the Russians and the Tzars who get the final word at the end…but also by Tevye’s own adult daughters…especially when the third daughter Chava falls in love with man who is not a Jew either by faith or heritage. In spite of the changes Tevye was able to stand his ground, just as the namesake of the musical…and while the Fiddler does not have a speaking/singing role, he plays his part very well as Tevye encourages him to come follow him and his family to America at the end of the story…regardless if that Fiddler was real or just in Tevye’s mind.
This takes us to an issue in American culture that has been argued for some time, but now has become magnified if not coming to a head. Retail since the 1980’s has been jumping on the Christmas bandwagon before Thanksgiving (since Xmas is a busy time a retail and people have to prep and break the traditions by necessity of the business). Also, as of late, with its seeds planted in the late 1990’s and magnified in 2000’s, all-Christmas radio has become a legit radio format (even if you can broadcast and program it for about two months or less) and not just something to play as a “stunt” while your station is in format transition to a new program format. Several polls have a majority of people saying that its too early to play Christmas music. The Fox News poll was split almost evenly on this, but the majority said that it was too early to play Xmas music. It seems they wanted to hold on to the Thanksgiving tradition by keeping the Christmasisms boxed up until we all had our Thanksgiving Day…besides the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade told us so…Uh AH! I could do a parody of the song Tradition and do a verse about that parade coupled with its chorus/refrain. Not really but take it as Food for Thought.
In my hometown of Colorado Springs, one of my stations has put on a television commercial telling the viewers to save Thanksgiving by switching to their radio station. Now they have a direct competitor that has been doing an all-Christmas format since about the 2000’s, along with a Contemporary Christian Music station that also establish themselves as the Christmas station in the Colorado Springs radio market as well. So, with those stations, that “Save Thanksgiving” station is telling them that they are the radio station that is taking “one holiday at a time.” After Thanksgiving that respected radio station says they will sprinkle in a few holiday tunes while sticking to their year around format. For the record they will only go all-Christmas from Christmas Eve night until Christmas Day Morning, and let an annual syndicated radio program do the “work.” But that is no big deal, unlike 40+ days give or take of Xmas music…for certain people.
We should continue to honor Thanksgiving Day in America. It is an important holiday to the American heritage and legacy and how the Pilgrims made their journey to America and survived many winters and eventually had a great harvest in 1621. They thanked God for their trials and rewards, and thus American Thanksgiving was born. Canada for the record has their Thanksgiving holiday in October around the second Monday. There are various Thanksgiving holidays, but only a handful of countries celebrate it and they have their unique differences but the harvest and fest elements are basically the same. In short, Thanksgiving is not a global holiday unlike Chanukah, New Years, Easter, and Especially Christmas.
In this day and age when most popular music is focused on beats, sex appeal, and especially doubling down on crass, I actually welcome the hanging up the holly, the putting up the trees, filling up the stockings, and decking the halls once again. Jerome Lawrence, Robert Edwin Lee, with music and lyrics from Jerry Herman had the right ideal of having a little Christmas in a desperate time for Auntie Mame (first played by Angela Lansbury on Broadway). While Mame is not a Christmas musical, the number We Need a Little Christmas is such a number and a popular one at that and has been popularized by Percy Faith, The New Christy Minstrels, and Johnny Mathis. Andy Williams finally got around to recording his own version of the song in the mid 1990’s but just did not have the voice he once had. He still got a gold album for the record his version is on…which is also called "We Need a Little Christmas" (the title track and two other cuts on the album were Xmas songs Williams never recorded before).
Overall, Fiddler on the Roof uses a group of Russian Jews, especially its lead character Tevye to show that Greek philosopher, Heraclitus was correct about “change is the only constant.” So as Americans, let us have that little Christmas before Thanksgiving and at the same time let us honor and celebrate Thanksgiving. Let them co-exist at the same time. Don’t want Christmas at your house until after Thanksgiving? Well, that is your personal and your family’s tradition. Just take a few hints from Tevye and the fiddler on the roof. Learn to play the fiddle while keeping your balancing and handle the macroworld to the best of your ability and more than not…you will not fall and break your neck. Tevye rolled with the changes and held on to his traditions. Just learn to deal with the Christmas Creep, just as the Jews in the fictional Anatevka had to separate and part ways. Nothing wrong with starting a NEW Tradition…they all started new once.
And Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Christmas (The Brits use that term by the way), and Happy Chanukah.