All I Want For Chrismakkah: An Analysis of The Two Best Holiday Songs Ever Recorded

It’s a fact, universally acknowledged, that 1994 was the most important year for holiday music in the history of the world. That’s because two iconic holiday anthems, Adam Sandler’s “The Hanukkah Song” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” both entered the world in ‘94, and the world is a better place for it…

There’s no possible argument against the seasonal supremacy of these two songs. Sure, we like Ariana Grande’s “Santa, Tell Me” and Daveed Diggs recently released “Puppy for Hanukkah,” but neither one has captured the public’s imagination the way Adam and Mariah did twenty-six years ago. Here’s why their songs endure, and shall never be supplanted!


The Lyrics

Both songs have memorable lyrics for different reasons. Let’s start with Mariah Carey’s classic: “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is both a title and a hook, and its simplicity is brilliant. These words convey exactly how it feels to have a Christmas crush – that person you wish your family could wrap up in a bow and place under your tree. Obviously Malcolm, the cute counselor from summer camp, would be the best gift one could ever reason! And as an added bonus, the words are super easy to memorize, which explains why lovelorn kids have sung it for – literally – generations.


“The Hanukkah Song’s” lyrics aren’t as easy to memorize, but they are informative! Sandler’s song gave increased visibility to Jewish celebrities. Old Hollywood was notoriously anti-semitic, so actors with Jewish heritage have often downplayed their religion. However, Sandler’s holiday anthem reclaims Jewish celebrities who might have otherwise been lost to history. From Captain Kirk to Henry Winkler, “The Hanukkah Song” provides an educational list of people who practice Judaism, all while being absolutely hilarious! I mean, who can forget lyrics like, “OJ Simpson – not a jew!” No wonder it’s a perennial favourite!



Their Origin Stories

Adam Sandler triumphantly debuted “The Hanukkah Song” LIVE on SNL. The crowd went wild, and that moment went the 1994 version of viral. For a special treat, watch Sandler’s original performance on Youtube, and you’ll see how he electrifies the room with his humour.

Meanwhile, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is groundbreaking in its own way. Mariah Carey was an itty bitty baby diva in her twenties when she recorded a holiday album. At the time, holiday albums were the domain of has-beens who couldn’t make it on the Billboard Hot 100, but Carey didn’t care! In the two and a half decades following her boundary-pushing decision, plenty of young pop stars have followed suit. So basically, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” gave birth to Justin Bieber’s holiday album. You’re welcome, world!


Their Cultural Staying Power

The Hanukkah Song spawned three sequels, which is pretty impressive. And who could forget the iconic moment in Love, Actually where a band of children plays “All I Want For Christmas Is You” at a nativity play where the Prime Minister of The United Kingdom is caught kissing his new girlfriend? These songs live on for a reason. Because they are better than all other holiday songs! ‘Nuff said!

Sarah Sahagian

Sarah Sahagian

Sarah Sahagian is a feminist writer based in Toronto. Her byline has appeared in such publications as Elle Canada, Flare, Bitch Media, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. She is also the co-host of You Do You: A Dating Podcast. Sarah holds a master’s degree in Gender Studies from The London School of Economics. You can find her on Twitter, where she posts about politics and live-tweets The Bachelor