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Monday, December 03, 2012

Chanukah is ... Updated 12/6/12

Chanukah -- the eight-day festival of light that begins on the eve of the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev -- celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, of spirituality over materiality.

Blue Swarovski Crystal Dreidel Earrings



More than twenty-one centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band led by Judah Maccabee of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of G-d. (Note from LB: This is the true reason to celebrate Chanukah.)

Copper & Black Hematite Beaded wire kippah


When they sought to light the Temple's menorah (the seven branched candelabrum), they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.

To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Chanukah. At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah (candelabrum) lighting: a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so on till the eighth night of Chanukah, when all eight lights are kindled.

On Chanukah we also add the Hallel and Al HaNissim in our daily prayers to offer praise and thanksgiving to G-d for "delivering the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few... the wicked into the hands of the righteous."

Source: Chabad

This year, we light the first candle on Sat., Dec. 8 at sundown. The first "day" of Hanukkah is Sun., Dec. 9. Are you having latkes?

Note:
To answer the question Dorene had about why gifts are given at Hanukkah, I did a little research. It is, as I suspected, to imitate Christmas gift giving. But, there is more information. You can read it at http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Hanukkah/At_Home/hanukkah-gifts.shtml (it's pretty interesting, I think).


Happpy Hanukkah!

17 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing the history behind the beautiful holiday traditions.

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  2. You're welcome. I love sharing the history

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  3. How very inspiring, Linda! My friends who celebrate Chanukah have never explained the tradition so beautifully.

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  4. Linda, wonderful post! And sure, I am having latkes!

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  5. I hope I'll be having some latkes and sufganiyot! Happy Chanukah!

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  6. Thank you for sharing the meaning of your holiday

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  7. What a wonderful explanation of this special holiday! Thanks so much for sharing! *Ü*

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  8. Linda - thank you for sharing the meaning of this special holiday.

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  9. Lovely history behind the traditions. The Jewish part of my family never acknowledged their roots as they lived in a deeply Christian area in the Bible belt of the deep South.

    Why do you not post the whole word God??? One of my favorite blogs is written by a well educated atheist. He talks about God way more than my more religious blogger friends do!

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  10. I'm glad you all like it.

    Holly - I was brought up writing G-d like this. In Judaism, if the word "G-d" in Hebrew is written on a piece of paper, one is not to destroy it, but to give it a proper Jewish burial in a Genizah - you can get more details http://www.myjewishlearning.com/ask_the_expert/at/Ask_the_Expert--Genizah.shtml

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  11. uniquecozytreasures - Thanks for sharing. This is new info for me.

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  12. Thank you for sharing the history of this holiday and such a thoughtful manner.

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  13. Linda, here's a question for you: if if the original tradition of Channukah was not tied to material things, where does the tradition of gifts every day of the celebration fit in?

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  14. Dorene, I'll have to do some research and get back to you. But it's probably because it's around Christmas and Jews felt left out of the gift giving.

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  15. What a truly beautiful festival, this is quite similar to Yule and Paganism in releasing the dark to bring in the light. Originally when humans were first on earth all cycles were around the natural seasons and it is here that the theme of the dark and the light came from, in releasing and making way for the new. It is a beautiful and ever true connection xx

    Happy Chanukah :)

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  16. After years of working in the diamond district in NYC, I celebrated all the Jewish holidays, but I have never heard the whole story about Chanukah. Thanks for sharing the history of the holiday.
    Valerie
    Everyday Inspired

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  17. Linda, Thanks for the education!

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