RORY: And we can split up holidays evenly. Like, I’ll be with you on Labor Day… LORELAI: Okay. RORY: … her on Memorial Day. LORELAI: Enough. RORY: I’ll have to find out about her religion though to see how Hanukkah will factor into this, unless you want to convert to Judaism and then take over Hanukkah for yourself.
Labor Day: a federal holiday in the US celebrated on the first Monday in September to honour the trade union and labour movement, first made official in 1894. Culturally, it is the unofficial last day of summer.
Hanukkah [pictured]: a Jewish festival, also known as The Festival of Lights, commemorating the recovery of Jerusalem and re-dedication of the Temple during the second century BC. It is observed for eight days and eight nights, and festivities include lighting candles, singing songs, and eating fried foods such as potato cakes and doughnuts. Although a minor festival, it has taken on great cultural significance in the US and elsewhere, as it takes place around the same time as Christmas.
RORY (looking at photo of Sherrie): Nice looking lady. LORELAI: Mm hmm. Like a young Tammy Faye Bakker. RORY: But prettier than that.
Tammy Faye Bakker, born Tamara LaValley (1942-2007) was the ex-wife of television evangelist Jim Bakker (born 1940). She and her husband ran a televangelist program called the PTL Club, founded in 1974; it was dissolved in 1989 when Jim Bakker was convicted and imprisoned on indicted on numerous counts of fraud and conspiracy. Tammy Faye divorced Jim in 1992, and married Roe Messner, a church building contractor (so by this stage she was actually Tammy Faye Messner).
Tammy Faye was known for her eccentric and glamorous image, and her views which often diverged from mainstream evangelical Christianity. For example, she supported the LGBT community, and reached out to HIV positive patients at the height of the AIDS epidemic. She was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1996, so was already terminally ill when this episode aired.
As Lorelai begins calling relatives to find out if they sent her the ice cream maker, we learn a few names from the extended family. They are identified as aunts and uncles, which may be courtesy titles for any elderly distant relatives. Or they could be Richard’s aunts and uncles, the siblings of either Trix, or Richard’s father.
Aunt Bobbie. Aunt Bobbie is a traditional Bible-thumping Christian, by the sounds of it.
Aunt Clarissa. Turns out to have recently died. Aunt Bobbie seems to suggest a belief that Clarissa would have been hell-bound.
Aunt Bunny. Has also died.
Uncle Randolph. The older brother of Bunny. Lorelai doesn’t seem to think he has much longer to live.
The Pennsylvania Gilmores. A branch of the family in this state is next on Lorelai’s list. It sounds as if she is working her way through the Gilmore side of the family first.
LORELAI: The Bible said all that, huh? Did it, did it mention me by name? I’m just . . . okay, I’m just kidding. So, um, judging by your Billy Graham impression, I am guessing that you didn’t send me an ice cream maker, so maybe you could just give me Aunt Clarissa’s phone number?
William “Billy” Graham (1918-2018) was a prominent American evangelist and ordained Southern Baptist who became well-known internationally in the 1940s. He held large outdoor rallies and his sermons were broadcast on television from 1947 to 2005, with an entire lifetime audience of over two billion, meaning he preached the Gospel to more people than anyone in history. He repudiated racial segregation, and invited Martin Luther King Jr to preach alongside him at a joint rally in 1957. He became the spiritual adviser for every US president from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama.
LORELAI: Okay, clearly this is shaping up to be one of those moments that Saint Peter’s gonna show on the big video screen when I die, and I for one do not wanna see the three of us staggering around with cider ice cream slathered all over our faces while my soul hangs in the balance, so until I can find out who sent this, no one goes near it.
Saint Peter was one of the Twelve Apostles, and a major leader of the early Christian church – by tradition, the first bishop of Rome, or first pope. The Gospel of Matthew speaks of Jesus giving Peter the keys to the kingdom of Heaven. In modern depictions, particularly cartoons and jokes, he is literally the keeper of the gates of Heaven, and responsible for deciding who is allowed in and who isn’t.
HEADMASTER: Like mother, like daughter. LORELAI: Okay, hold on. HEADMASTER: Ms. Gilmore, active participation in Chilton activities for a parent is vitally important.
The phrase “like mother like daughter” can be found in the Bible, in Ezekiel 16:44. There, it specifically refers to the city and people of Jerusalem, who are said to have the Hittites as their “mother”. It isn’t complimentary, meaning that Jerusalem has taken on the same disgusting practices as earlier cultures, despite the love and protection of God. The proverb seems to have been well-known even in Old Testament times.
You can see Headmaster Charleston in the role of disappointed God, having offered the love and protection of Chilton to Rory, only to find that she has inherited her mother’s appalling habits!
Kabbalah is an esoteric discipline in Jewish mysticism, containing a set of teachings explaining the relationship between God and the universe. It dates to around the 12th century and originated in Spain and southern France. There are different traditions and streams of thought within it, that might focus on theosophy, meditative practices, or (more controversially) white magic. It has been a strong influence on Jewish philosophy and mysticism.
Since the 1960s, universalist schools have opened up which teach Kabbalah to people of all faiths and ways of life, one of the contributors to New Age spirituality. You can also sign up for six week courses in introductory Kabbalah, making it very accessible. Possibly such courses are held in Stars Hollow, although it is slightly surprising Luke knows about them and approves, as he doesn’t seem the most mystical person. The show did seem to just give random Jewishness to characters whenever it felt like it.
Freeway (a mistake for highway????) beautification projects
Community groups often sponsor a section of highway in the US in order to maintain it, and provide volunteers to work on it. Such projects might include planting trees, shrubs and ground cover plants, mowing grass, weeding, mulching, and removing roadside litter. It seems like something Taylor would almost certainly organise for a highway near Stars Hollow.
Color Me Mine pottery painting
A chain of studios, founded in 1996, where people can paint their own pottery and ceramics. In real life, there aren’t any Color Me Mine studios in Connecticut (but plenty in California, where the writers live).
Humorously, Luke’s suggestions of social activities he might approve don’t sound like anything most teenage boys would be interested in.
LANE: It’s so amazing to be back. When I got off the plane, I kissed the tarmac. LORELAI: Just like the Pope. LANE: It was hot and I burned my lips. RORY: Maybe that’s why the Pope always looks so grumpy.
Pope John Paul II, previously discussed, made a point of always kissing the ground when he arrived in a country as a sign of love and respect for the nation and its people.
LORELAI: What is that? LUKE: Oh, it’s a chuppah. LORELAI: A what? LUKE: A chuppah. You stand under it, you and Max. It’s for your wedding.
A chuppah is a canopy which a Jewish couple stand under when they are married. It’s usually a cloth or sheet (sometimes a prayer cloth) held up by four wooden poles. In Orthodox Judaism, there is meant to be open sky above the chuppah, just as is planned for Max and Lorelai’s garden wedding. The chuppah represents the home the couple are making together, which will always be open to guests.
Lorelai wonders whether it would be inappropriate for she and Max to have a chuppah, and gains reassurance from Luke on that point. Luke is actually correct: there is nothing specifically Jewish about getting married under a canopy (other religions do it too), and it doesn’t necessarily have to be religious in nature. These days there’s a bit of a trend for non-Jewish canopy weddings, and as long as it isn’t actually called a chuppah it doesn’t usually cause offence.
The chuppah is a gift from Luke to apologise for his behaviour towards Max. He knows he has been bit of a jerk about Lorelai’s wedding, and wants her to know he is still there for her as a friend. At the end of the scene, Luke and Lorelai are shown standing together under the chuppah as a sign that they will be married one day (when it happens in A Year in the Life, it will take place under a “canopy” beneath the sky, but not the chuppah).
It isn’t all that believable that the Luke we have got to know so far would actually make a chuppah for a non-Jewish wedding after getting the idea from a book (how did he know how to pronounce the word from reading it in a book?), and it seems awfully contrived.