Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays (December).
Every year I have a bit of a gathering with friends and family on the weekend after Thanksgiving. We celebrate a historical celebration that has developed during the Thanksgiving season. As I explain, it has roots in the city of Constantinople, it dates back to over 600 A.D., and it makes a lot of sense to us as a Polish Jewish community.
Looking back, the reason behind the holiday is simple, because in our culture Christmas is a commercial holiday, with the focus being on gifts and gifts. In those days, Hanukkah fell on the first night of Christmas, so people celebrating the religious holiday had to wait until the next morning to light candles and practice religious obligations. The big day is today, while the Sabbath, traditionally held on the Saturday before, falls on the fifth day of Hanukkah.
Over the course of the following month, a significant number of people celebrate the holiday. The lighting of candles is the symbol of the holiday. The Jews celebrate this way because there are people who are hungry and cold. On a stage in the city’s center, those who lack food are represented as extramen. These extramen are painted blue and white in the old Jewish calendar and this design is seen on lights that go up on Hanukkah candles.
Some people go as far as rearranging the items around their chalices to represent extramen. Another piece of evidence is that Rabbi Moses Herzl wrote that Hanukkah “celebrates the miracles” of the giver of the oil that lasted longer than promised (so that the dreidel, or menorah, could go up on the Menorah). Many people decorate their windows with additional Menorahs to represent this life. The next thing to do is walk outside and light candles on the different Menorah candles as one of the festivals, when there are only candles available.
The menorah lighting should happen at sundown at the appointed time in your community, or you can start early with the crowds and just go to “Auld Lang Syne.” Later is good because if there are more people sitting around watching the TV, there are more candles that burn out before they can be lit. According to the Ashkenazi Jewish religious calendar, lighting the candles starts an hour earlier if there are people inside watching the special television, but if everyone is outside there is a chance to see the Menorah lights first. After all is said and done, the candles and the candelabra are topped off with wax that brings forth another miracle. This is an actual event that begins on the first night of Hanukkah.
It is best to bring family together for the celebration, but if you’re without a lot of people, don’t stress too much and have fun. That’s what the holiday is all about.
David L. Arsenault is a freelance writer based in Florida. He is a former government policy analyst, and a former government inspector general. He is the author of three books, and he can be reached at [email protected]. For more of his books, please visit his website, fasearsuade.com.