Hanukkah is still not a “Jewish Christmas”
It is Hanukkah once again. Monday, November 29, 2021 was the first day of the eight days of Chanukah.
Wait, I thought Hanukkah took place on Christmas. Why is this happening so early this year? Is this the result of global warming?
Chanukah always starts on the 25the day of Kislev, and the month of Kislev always starts at the new moon. The Jewish calendar is a Solar-Lunar one, which means some years have 12 months, and some have 13 months.
But it’s like Jewish Christmas, right? Only without Jesus because, you know, Jew.
Not really. And by “not really” I mean “really, really not”. For starters, it’s a small Jewish holiday – like the Jewish equivalent of Mardi Gras.
Exactly. A minor holiday.
Chanukah tends to gain more attention as a time of festive decorations and gifts in countries like the United States which have a large Christian population or countries like Japan which celebrate Christmas with a lot of energy, so Jewish children do not feel so left behind.
The central role of the illuminated Menorah as a source of light and hope has a stronger impact in a high-latitude country where the middle of winter is a time of darkness and cold, a time when people need to see bright lights and be reminded that darkness is not going to last forever. This aspect of Hanukkah was not as important in the ancient Mediterranean, where winter temperatures were milder and the length of the day did not change as much.
Eh. So like, you’re sort of saying that Chanukah is not the Jewish Christmas, but the Menorah is the Jewish Christmas tree?
Uhâ¦ yes, actually.
Keep in mind that Christmas trees are not Christmas trees at all. they are Christmas trees. The decorated and lighted tree was a Yule holiday custom in the northern countries for centuries before Christianity reached them.
So if you hear people making jokes about having a “hanukkah treeJust say “Why not?” ”
You can see Yule trees in the homes of atheists and Buddhists. There is no reason why Jews should not plant a Christmas tree during Hanukkah or to mark the winter solstice.
But why is there such a thing as Chanukah, and why is it eight days?
Well the workD “Hanukkah“Means” consecration “, and the feast commemorates the consecration, the reconsecration, of the Temple in Jerusalem after its recapture by the Maccabees, after a long period during which Judea was not independent. The Greeks were descended from Syria 50 years earlier, and in 165 BC. Maccabees knocked down the hammer on them and drove them out of Jerusalem.
After the overthrow, they found the Temple to be like a mess – desecrated, you might say – and wanted to rededicate it. For this, they needed holy oil to light the lamps, or at least to light a lamp. They hunted and surprisingly found a small bottle of this substance. They were sorry to see that there was only enough oil for one night, but they thought one night was better than nothing, so they poured it in and lit itâ¦ and it went burned for eight days in a row.
The lamp has good mileage.
A miraculous light, apparently provided to mark the miraculously good performance of the Maccabees against the Greeks, who had been the favorites to win.
Anyway, this is why it lasts eight days, and why the special menorah used during Chanukah, called hanukkiah, has nine branches instead of the usual seven, to hold eight candles, plus a ninth which is used to light the candles. others.
There is a theory that the shape of the Menorah could be a holdover from a prehistoric religious symbol, the Tree of life, but no one is completely sure about that one.
I still struggle with the idea that Chanukah is a minor holiday. This is about the only Jewish holiday I can think of.
Well, it’s true. I checked with the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, and although Chanukah is not Jewish Christmas, Rhode Island is Jewish Plymouth – this is where the first Jewish congregation was formed in the Thirteen Colonies, mainly because it was the first place one was allowed to train.
Not every Jew you meet will be watching all of them or even any of them – and not all who are watching them are Jews. Generally speaking, Jewish families think a lot more about where to buy good, puff, apricot. Hamantaschen for Purim or where to build their temporary houses called sukkah for Sukkot that what to buy Sherman for the eighth day of Chanukah.
Cool, wellâ¦ thank you. See you later.
Conversations by John M. Burt