Five reasons for celebrating Hanukkah
December is all about Hanukkah for me. Starting the 25th day of Kislev on the Jewish calendar, eight nights of good times begin. As far as holidays go in Judaism, Hanukkah isn’t exactly of major importance, but it’s a happy one and it has a good message. So here forth are five reasons why I like Hanukkah.
1. The story – Like most stories from Jewish history it starts with the oppression of the Jewish people – wait, it gets better! Most people have heard some vague description of the Hanukkah story – “Years and years ago, there were these people called the Maccabees….” If you haven’t, it’s worth looking up. It’s an inspirational yarn about overcoming adversity and standing up for yourself and your beliefs.
2. The lack of pressure – Even though Hanukkah falls around Christmas (the dates change every year because the Jewish calendar is lunar), there’s never any pressure to go all out. If all you want to do is light candles and eat a couple (OK a lot) of latkes, then that’s enough.
3. The food – This is basically the only reason I celebrate Hanukkah (I kid). Sufganiyot, latkes, dairy, dairy, dairy. And anything fried. It’s the one week out of the year when you’re encouraged to eat food fried in oil. So eat up and then maybe think about going into detox.
4. The decorations/festivizing – When I was growing there really weren’t any pre-made decorations to be bought, especially in the city where I grew up. So it was up to us to make them ourselves. Basically, you draw a lot of pictures of latkes, dreidels and menorahs (by the way none of those are particularly easy for a six-year-old with hand-eye coordination deficiencies). *Note: festivizing is a term used to describe the act of making one’s surroundings festive. Just because it’s not in Merriam-Webster doesn’t mean it’s not a word.
5. The lights – Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of the oil that should have only lit the menorah in the temple for one day, but lasted eight days. That’s why a special eight-branched menorah called a hanukkiyah is lit for Hanukkah. In Hebrew, Hanukkah means dedication (which is kind of hilarious considering a lot of people could care less about the holiday). When the temple was destroyed Judah Maccabee and his followers built a new altar and menorah from the remains. That’s how dedicated they were. Nowadays we symbolize that dedication by lighting the hannukkiyah every night for eight nights. If you forget, everyone hates you and gives you dirty looks. Just kidding, it just means you’re awesome (exhibit A: me).
So those are my five reasons for why I like Hanukkah. What are yours? I bet they’re not as good as mine because I’m awesome, remember.
Wishing Jews in lands far and near a very happy Chanukah, Chanukkah, Hanukkah, or any other version therein!