Why hello there! As far as my time zone is, it is right now the 2nd Night of Chanukkah. Chanukkah is such a joyous holiday for me, along with Christmas. Yes, I celebrate both holidays with my family, but that's not the point here.
Some people think that Chanukkah is a Jewish Christmas. Let me tell you that those people are wrong. By saying that, you're actually lowering the importance of Christmas. Chanukkah is a minor holiday in the eyes of Rabbis. Holidays are only major if there is a "don't" in it. Like Yom Kippur, you cannot eat for the day. Or Rosh Hashanah, in which you can't eat certain items. Chanukkah has no restricting rules, so it is there for minor.
But what IS Chanukkah? Well, the widely believed tale begins like so:
It is 167 B.C.. The Maccabees are in Jerusalem, reclaiming it from the Greeks and Hellanism. As the Maccabees reached the Temple of Jerusalem, they wanted to claim it again. To mark it's return, the Maccabees decided to burn a symbolic lamp. But avast, they had only one day's worth of oil. As the soldiers went out to find oil, they said they'd return in 8 Days. Like a miracle, the oil lasted for eight whole days. Everyone was happy.
BUT, this story is not historically true. As many of you know, stories like must contain God in some way. When i said "miracle", It meant God willed the oil to last. But what really happened that day went like this:
The Maccabees were still in a timeless struggle against the Greeks. They had a small army; but they had lots of moral. This caused the army to overwhelm the Greeks, and they destroyed them. As victory swept, the Maccabees realized that this war caused them to miss Sukkot, which this Jewish holiday took place 2 months ago. Sukkot lasted for 8 days, and it still does. To make up for it, the Maccabees celebrated for eight days, and they call this Chanukkah.
Pretty lame, amiright? But, the Torah/Bible story is much more interesting.
Now for the fun part. Chanukkah goes the same way in my house every year. We break out the old Menorah. The Menorah is a candle holder that has nine candles. This is what my family's looks like:
We now the light the candles. We put one candle in the middle holder, and that's called the Shamash. We then use THAT candle to light the rest. Note: the candles go from right to left, but they are lit left to right. Why? Because then each candle gets the opportunity to be lit first each night.
After lighting, we sing a prayer.
Baruch ata Adonai Eloheynu melech ha-olam, asher kidshanu b'mitzvotav vitzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Chanukkah. Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has made us holy through the commandments and commanded us to kindle the Chanukkah lights.
We also sing this prayer, but ONLY on the first night:
Baruch ata Adonai Eloheynu melech ha-olam, she-he-cheyanu, v'kee-y'manu, v'higiyanu laz'man ha-zeh Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has given us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this joyous celebration.
After lighting the candles and singing the prayers, my brother and I go into my room. My parents use this time to hide our gifts. We come out five minutes later, and we take turns finding our gifts using the "Hot/Cold" method. Our gifts are the same every hear: Scratch Tickets.*** Here's the schedule:
First Night: $1 ST
Second Night: A $2 ST
Third Night: A $2 and $1 ST
And so on. Afterwards, we enjoy a nice game of Dreidal. a Dreidal is a top, with four sides. Each side has one letter, which can be Gimmel, Hay, Shin, or Nun. You spin, and it lands on a side. To play Dreidal, everyone gets four Gelt pieces, and Gelt is chocolate coins wrapped in tinfoil. Every round everyone puts one Gelt in the "pot". One person spins, and lands on a letter. Here's the code:
Gimmel: Take the whole Pot.
Shin: Put one Gelt in the Pot.
Nun: Do nothing.
Hay: Take half of the Pot.
And the process repeats. It's a pretty fun and delicious game to play.
And so, that's how Chanukkah goes for me every year. It's a really enjoyable holiday, and I look forward to it just as mch as Christmas. Happy holidays!
***: Not all families offer Scratch Tickets as presents, ours just does it as a family tradition.
P.S.: I suppose this blog can be apart the "Blog Carnival" that is going on.