It’s Not Quite Christmas

By: Caia Bevins

We all know what time of year it is: Christmastime. It is one of my favorite times of the year, personally. But everyone knows about Christmas. Do you know what people don’t know about? Hanukkah. So, let’s change that, shall we? Buckle your seatbelts, my fellow yellow jackets, as we go on a little trip through history.

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. It starts on Kislev 25 (no, I don’t know how it’s pronounced) and lasts for eight days, and guess what? There is a cool story that explains why.

When the temple was being dedicated, Judas Maccabeus walked into the temple and found only one jar of oil that could be used for the eternal flame. This oil should have only lasted one day, but it lasted eight, which was long enough for more oil to be found. Pretty cool, right?

Today, Jews celebrate this holiday by lighting the Menorah, playing games, and eating fried food. The Menorah is like a large candleholder with four branches on either side and one in the middle for a total of nine candles. The center candle is called the shammash candle and is used to light all the others. Each day, a new candle is lit until all nine are burning.

Because Christmas isn’t a Jewish holiday, some Jews don’t celebrate it. However, some families do give gifts to each other. Even though the Temple did burn down, Hanukkah is still a big deal in Israel. It is actually a national holiday which means that schools are closed, some people don’t work, and there are massive parties, plays, and songs sung.

In Jerusalem, people run through the city with burning torches to the only remaining wall of the Temple in remembrance of the flame that burnt during those eight days Hanukkah celebrates. One of those torches is given to the chief rabbi, and he uses it to light the first candle of an enormous Menorah that kicks off the celebration.

That said, I want to invite you all to the Hanukkah event hosted by the Religion Department. It is Wednesday, November 30, in Defiance 102 at 4:30 p.m. (if you don’t know where that is, it’s the room with all the furniture that moves), and there will be donuts, hot chocolate, and other snacks. You’ll also make your own dreidel and learn how to play!

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