The term has been used for many years by some in the Jewish community to comment on the commercialization of Hanukkah and the dominance of the commercialized Christmas in American culture. An exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Berlin (10/28/05- 1/28/06) called "Chrismukkah: Stories of Christmas and Hanukkah." sourced the origin of "Chrismukkah" to German-Jews in the late 1800s who called the holiday "Weihnukkah". Weihnachten is the German word for Christmas.
"A Christmas celebration with a tree, songs, and gifts became a symbol of being a part of German culture for many middle-class Jewish families in the 19th century. Jews celebrated Christmas as a secular "festival of the world around us" without religious meaning, or they transferred Christmas customs to the Hanukkah festival. This mixture was and is referred to as "Chrismukkah."
In the United States, Chrismukkah was the subject of a facetious press release that was widely circulated on joke web sites in the late 1990s. Chrismukkah gained pop culture notoriety on December 3, 2003, after being featured on the FOX television program The O.C..
In 2004, Chrismukkah.com was launched by Ron and Michelle Gompertz, a Jewish-Christian intermarried couple in Bozeman, Montana. Their website took the fictional O.C. Chrismukkah and brought it into reality, selling humorous Chrismukkah greeting cards and dispensing detailed mythology about the fictional holiday. The Chrismukkah.com web site was widely credited with popularizing Chrismukkah to a non-television watching audience. Chrismukkah.com stirred up controversy in the Fall of 2004 when the New York Catholic League, the organization run by conservative pundit William Donahue, issued a national press release opposing Chrismukkah. In December, Chrismukkah was listed in Time Magazine as one of the "buzzwords" of the year. It was also reported in a Scottish newspaper, that Chrismukkah had been added to the authoritative "Chambers" dictionary. In 2005 Chrismukkah.com founder Ron Gompertz authored a humorous book of Chrismukkah recipes called Chrismukkah! The Merry Mish-Mash Holiday Cookbook. Gompertz's follow-up book, entitled "Chrismukkah - Everything You Need to Know to Celebrate the Hybrid Holiday" (published by Stewart, Tabori and Chang) comes out in October 2006. A rival book by Gersh Kuntzman, "Chrismukkah: The Official Guide to the World's Best-Loved Holiday" (Sasquatch Press), comes out at around the same time.
Chrismukkah exists amongst mixed non-religious families of Christian backgrounds and non-religious families of Jewish backgrounds. In this way a family can celebrate the external forms of these two disparate holidays simultaneously, although the theological message of the two holidays are completely at odds. (Hanukkah is a holiday that celebrates the victory of religious Jews fighting against non-Jewish religious assimilation; Christmas is a holiday that celebrates the perceived fulfillment of Judaism by the arrival of the prophesied Messiah. Although it can still be argued that Christianity is a branch-off from Judaism, thus Christians celebrating Chrismukkah could be seen as celebrating their religious heritage.
Chrismukkah is advertised as if it were an established holiday by Chrismukkah.com.
Chrismukkah has been described as "eight days of gifts followed by one day of lots of gifts" on the television show The OC.
Other names for the holiday include: Chrismukah, Christmukah, Christmukkah, Hannumas, Chanumas and (Meppy) Christnukmah.
A similarly named holiday called Christmanukkah was featured in The Strangerhood. Unlike Chrismukkah, Christmanukkah is twenty days long (twelve days of Christmas and another eight for Hanukkah), and all of the days are spent receiving gifts and eating till passing out.
It is believed that the spelling of the holiday, as "Chrismukkah," intentionally left out the "t" from Christmas, as so that Christian activists would not be enraged that Christ's name was proclaimed in such a holiday.