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~ The Festival of Lights ~

In the distance, a Menorah burns brightly.
Its candles flicker in remembrance of days long ago.
Eight candles commemorating the days of the holiday,
along with one more, to help the glow.

In the distance, a shell explodes with vigor,
Shattering the tranquility and peace,
Reminding us that we still need to work on it,
Will the fighting never cease?

In the distance, the blessings are heard nightly,
The candles are lit one by one, We light in remembrance, we light in hope,
That soon, tranquil times will come.

* Hanukkah, a Joyous Celebration
* Hanukkah, Chanuka, Hannuka ~ Which is it?
* The Jewish Christmas?
* The Menorah
* The Foods of Hanukkah ~ just like Bubbie used to make!
* Dreidels and Gelt

Hunukkah, a Joyous Celebration!

Unlike a lot of the major holidays on the Jewish calendar, Hunukkah is a joyous time. It's a celebration of a victory so many years ago. The Jews were suffering religious persecution at the hands of the Greeks, who ruled Syria at the time. Unable to worship as they pleased, they fought back. Hanukkah commemorates this fight for religious freedom.

During the three year battle, the Jewish Temple became a pile of ruins. When the Jews finally became victorious in gaining their freedom, their mission was to rebuild the Temple, their place of worship.

With them now free to worship, they re-dedicated their great Temple. They could only find a small vial of oil with which to light the ceremonial Menorah. There would be barely a day's worth. Miraculously, the oil burned for 8 days.

Thus, Hanukkah is celebrated for 8 days, beginning on the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev, which usually falls in late November, or December, on the American calendar.

Hanukkah, Chanuka, Hannuka ~ Which is it?

You've probably noticed that Hanukkah has a lot of different spellings. The reason is that Hanukkah is a Hebrew word. The Hebrew alphabet is quite different from ours. The first sound in the word Hanukkah, has no equivalent in the English language, therefore, no one knows how to spell it. It most closely resembles an "H" sound, but it's a guttural H. Sometimes it's written as "ch" but that's not the sound either. So, it's hard to spell a word without a sound to match!

The Jewish Christmas?

Actually, Hanukkah and Christmas have no similarities with the exception of the fact that they fall around the same time of year. Hanukkah is no more the Jewish Christmas, than Christmas is the Christian Hanukkah. Hanukkah is a relatively minor Jewish Holiday. It took on more importance because of the commercialism of Christmas. Santa Clause is a Christian tradition, and has no place in the Hanukkah celebration.

The Menorah

The Menorah is the candle holder we use to hold the Hanukkah candles as they burn. It has 9 branches, one for each day of Hanukkah, and one additional branch to hold the shamash, or helper, candle. On the first night of Hanukkah, one candle is lit, with the shamash. On the second night, 2 candles are lit with the shamash, and so it goes, until all 8 candles are lit, with the shamash, to make a total of 9 lights. Appropriate blessings are said as the candles are lit, and family usually gathers around for songs and games.

The Foods of Hanukkah ~ Just Like Bubbie Used to Make

Hanukkah wouldn't be Hanukkah without potato latkes. Typical foods during Hanukkah are fried in oil, to remind us of the small flask of oil that illuminated the menorah for 8 days then. Latkes, usually served with either sour cream, or apple sauce, are a holiday favorite. Donuts, fried in oil are very popular in Israel.

Dreidels and Gelt

Dreidels are tops that originally came into being as it was a game that Jewish children could play in relative silence during the tumultuous times. The four-sided tops have one letter of the Hebrew alphabet on each side. The letters represent the first letters in the Hebrew words that translate to "A Miracle Happened There." The game is played with pennies, beans, or gelt, with each player either contributing to, or taking from the pot, depending on how their Dreidel lands.

Gelt is the Hebrew word for gold, or money. Chocolate coins in shiny gold foil, have become a popular form of gelt for Hanukkah.

~A Gift From Carol ~ my best cyberfriend!

Happy Holidays
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