Hanukkah is a strange holiday; it’s not one of the major High Holy Days like Yom Kippur, and it’s not one of the three pilgrimage festivals, like Shavuot or Pesach/Passover. The Festival of Lights celebrates the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire in the 2nd century, and while that sounds major, most Americans assign Hanukkah more importance than it actually has. Still, the gift-giving (lifted from the same tradition that brought you the Hanukkah bush) and gelt are similar enough to Christmas for Corporate America, who’ll market anything at any holiday if it’ll make a buck.
A Los Angeles woman hunting in the Hanukkah section of Walgreens unearthed a roll of wrapping paper that bore a rather distinctive and holiday-inappropriate swastika on it.
KNBC reports that the woman, Cheryl Sharpio, was left floored by the discovery.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes, I had no idea what to do,” Sharpio said. She added that “I told them I wanted this taken off the shelves immediately – not just your store, but national. I was really putting my foot down because I was appalled by this.”
Shapiro said that she tried to reach her rabbi, but was eventually able to get the rolls removed after complaining to the managers of the store. Walgreens has pulled the product completely, and Hallmark, the company that made it, issued an apology for it.
The swastika is in the geometric pattern, and it’s one of those things that you can’t unsee once you find it. Hallmark, the company that printed the paper, said that it wasn’t intended for Hanukkah sale, and the Walgreens in question stuck it in the Hanukkah aisle because of the blue and silver coloring.
While it might seem like a “much ado about nothing” story, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. Several companies, including a Spanish handbag manufacturer named Zara, have marketed designs that evoke the swastika. Zara was also criticized earlier this year for marketing a striped T-shirt with a golden star on it, which I’m sure was totally accidental.