Jill Greene | Head Editor
December 9, 2020
As the holiday season rolls around, Hanukkah celebrations (amongst other holidays) are often drown out by Christmas cheer. As my Hanukkah gift to you all, I thought I’d take the liberty of educating those who know about the holiday, but aren’t sure of its origins, or why it’s even celebrated. “Honoring Jewish culture honors the history of Jewish people and the oppression they’ve faced,” local gentile and senior Zack Mallgrave said on the value of learning about other cultures. Couldn’t’ve said it better myself.
This year, Hanukkah starts at sundown on Friday, December 11th. Coincidentally, Chanukah and Hanukah also start on this day. Celebrated at night, the holiday lasts for eight days. Why is this? Well, the holiday itself comes from a legend about the Jewish people resisting their Greek-Syrian oppressors, who barred the Jewish people from practicing their faith as well as desecrated a sacred temple. Once they drove the Syrians out of Jerusalem, they convened again in the sacred temple.
(This is the part that makes all the young boys and girls at Synagogue lose their minds.)
Expecting only to have enough oil to light a menorah for one day, the flame lasted for not one, not two,… not six, not seven, but eight—yes—EIGHT days. The Jewish people were so hyped by this miracle, they declared a yearly festival lasting eight days, to commemorate the dedication of the flame’s light.
Hanukkah, itself, means dedication, and the holiday is considered ‘the Festival of Lights.’
People celebrate Hanukkah through various traditions, passed down through generations. Lighting the menorah is a must. Each night, an additional candle is lit, from right to left, by the shamash, or the center ‘helper’ candle. In more orthodox homes, a prayer is often recited. Afterwards, families gather to open presents, and, if there are younger kids, spin a dreidel for chocolate gelt.
Additional popular celebrations include reuniting with family over dinner. “We celebrate [Hanukkah] because my relatives are Jewish,” senior Courtney Vaccaro said on her family’s traditions, “we all get together and make Jewish food and light the menorah.”
While Hanukkah might not have many songs, some personal favorites include “Ocho Candelicas,” “Hava Nagila” (specifically the Dick Dale version), and “The Hanukkah Song” by Adam Sandler, a song created to address the lack of Hanukkah songs itself.
However, the greatest tradition of all, in my opinion, is cooking latkes. If you’ve never tried one, go find yourself a Jewish friend and demand they make you one, but don’t forget to say please and thank you, and all that. Avoid the boxed stuff. Not as good.
Well, there you have it. My gist of the holiday. I could go on, but I have gifts to buy.
I hope you’ve learned something new or even learned something that sparked your interest to investigate further. Anyone can benefit from learning more about the world. Regardless of what you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful holiday, that you get those AirPods you’ve always wanted, that you let Meemaw and Peepaw give you a hug, and, most importantly, stay safe! Health is a gift, too, y’know, so wear your dang mask!
Hanukkah starts at sundown, Friday, December 11th, and ends at sundown, Friday, December 18th.
Chag Urim Sameach!