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Celebrating ALL of the Holidays

Date: December 14, 2015 Categories: Blog

As children, we learn about the different Holidays in December. Elementary schools spend a day or so covering everything from Christmas to Hanukkah to Kwanzaa. Most of us have an understanding of them, but what would you say if asked to explain them? Whether it’s about Santa or baby Jesus, the reference point of Christmas is much greater for many than that of the others. With this in mind, our upcoming blog posts will explore both Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, starting with Hanukkah.

 

Hanukkah (meaning ‘dedication’) is a Jewish holiday, also known as the ‘Festival of Lights’. Lasting eight nights and days, it is a celebration that recognizes the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. During the second century B.C., the Jewish people lead an uprising against the Greek-Syrians, who had stolen their temple, erected an altar to Zeus within it and ordered pigs be sacrificed at the altar. The revolt was led by the Jewish Priest Mattathias and his five sons. The battle lasted three years but, in the end, the Jewish army came out victorious. When the time came to rededicate the temple, there was only enough consecrated oil to light the Menorah (a unique candle holder with multiple arms) for one day. Miraculously, the hours stretched on and the Menorah stayed lit for the entire eight days needed to make new, pure oil.

 

Thousands of years later, Hanukkah is still celebrated and typically starts at the end of November or the beginning of December, depending on the Hebrew calendar. Adherents attend work, but may leave early to light a new candle or oil lamp at sun down on each of the eight days. Songs are often sung and additional prayers said. The celebration also includes traditional Jewish foods that are fried or baked in oil, such as doughnuts and latkes (potato pancakes). Families may exchange gifts and children enjoy playing with dreidels, a four-sided spinning top. This year, it began on Sunday, December 6, and will continue until Monday, December 14.

 

Happy Hanukkah everyone!