Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival commemorating the rededication of the Second temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. (Also called the Syrian Greek Empire) It is also known as the Festival of Lights…Wikipedia.
This year, 2020, it begins on December 10. It is an eight-day holiday that is celebrated by special foods, gifts and lighting the candles on a Menorah. Like winter holidays in many other religions, Hanukkah emphasizes light during the darkest part of the year. The main components of the celebration are spinning a top called a dreidel in a game of chance, eating fried foods that symbolize the oil in the story and the nightly lighting of the candles in the menorah.
It is a minor holiday in Jewish life, but has become enormously popular. “It celebrated victorious underdogs, and fits the “they tried to kill us/we won/let’s eat” rubric that animates Jewish holidays like Passover and Purim.”
“Hanukkah now takes its place alongside Christmas as part of a religiously pluralistic holiday. Kwanzaa and the Winter Solstice chime in as well to round out a shared civic sense of winter celebration.” It is a time when more Americans than ever before have Christmas and Hanukkah in their life in some way, either due to their own interfaith families or via relatives or friends. “We should keep in mind the historical significance… that we live in a time in which Americans celebrating either or both holidays have come to find it so normal to participate in aspects of both. We have a lot to be thankful for, given the difficult histories Jews and Christians have had for centuries before this time of unprecedented pluralism and acceptance.”
One important aspect of Hanukkah is the story of ancient Jews fighting for their right to worship freely against an empire that sought to impose its own religious beliefs upon them. The traditional story of Hanukkah (which means dedication) is that once the Maccabees had restored the Temple and re-purified it, they sought to relight a lamp known as the “eternal flame”. “But only one day’s worth of consecrated olive oil could be found, and it would be awhile before more could be produced. No one wanted to light the eternal flame only to see it sputter out after a day, but there was a deep spiritual desire to rekindle the sacred lamp immediately. The priests decided to light it and hope for the best. Miraculously, it burned for eight days until fresh jars of olive oil were finally brought to keep the flame alive. Hence, the eight nights of candle lighting for Hanukkah.”
(Above information taken from 18 Doors.org & “Guide to Hanukkah for Interfaith Families”)
My own extended family is a hodge-podge of religious denominations. There are Jews, Episcopalians, Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptists. Each relative brings an interesting perspective and set of beliefs to the table, along with delicious traditional foods.
In an earlier blog I mentioned my grandmother, Momo’s, Christmas cookies as being a holiday favorite. Right up there with those delicious cookies are my cousin’s potato latkes with caramelized onion sour cream and/or apple sauce. It is said that between Thanksgiving and the New Year’s Day, many people gain between 5-15 pounds. With the amazing variety of holiday food from which to choose, is it any wonder?
Throughout the holiday season, Darcy and Danielle from Despicable Lies and Second Chances, have managed to enjoy the festivities and to keep their “girlish figures”. I wish the same could be said about me. (Think WW, Jenny Craig, Keto, South Beach or Nutra Systems soon)
Good food, Good times and Happy Hanukkah everyone.
Until my next inspiration…ciao.