One of my class celebrations each December was Hanukkah, another festival of lights (beside Diwali). Hanukkah is an ancient Hebrew Festival. I always try to do some research on my posts to ensure that it is not just my opinion but a higher authority. This morning I discovered this article of the same name as my post. It was in Haaretz Newspaper , the oldest daily newspaper in Israel. This story is different from the books I would read to my students about the Hanukkah Miracle of the the Oil. I always wanted to teach the students that people all over the world have similar needs, wants, beliefs if not the same …they share the beliefs in a deity or something larger than themselves.
This article tells the story of struggle of revolt that might be popular today. It was about gross economic inequity and religious coercion verses freedom of religion. Surprisingly, the article said it is not about a miracle of the oil, only enough for one day, that lasted for 8 days. This was the story I thought was the true story. The picture of the oil lamp at the beginning of my post is similar to the lamps that would have been used at this time in history. Israel was ruled by Antiochus who was Greek. Many Jewish people had become Hellenized by the rulers, but the Maccabean revolt was started to return the country to is roots and religion.
The Maccabees, Jewish freedom fighters, lead mostly guerrilla warfare, but finally Jewish independence returned. Jerusalem was freed and the temple of the Lord was rededicated. The year was 160 BC. It was a celebration to thank God for His blessings. In the Book of Maccabees I , this celebration, Hanukkah, was listed as a minor holiday as opposed to the sanctified holidays listed in the Bible which were divinely ordained. Hanukkah was a post-biblical holiday. It gained much more popularity in the the 20th century coinciding with Christmas. The dreidels, lakes, gelt, menorahs and of course gifts for the eight nights were introduced during this time.
The Maccabees. . . . notice the Greek clothing. . . .
Dreidels which spin in a game of chance. . . Notice the Hebrew letters. . . .
Chocolate coins are used in the game. In my classes, students used kernels of corn and each received one piece of gelt , foiled covered chocolate at the end.
Latkes or potato pancakes are served with applesauce or sour cream. They are fried in oil. Donuts are a favorite fried food as well. It was really fun when moms could make the latkes. . . .similar to homemade McDonald’s fried potatoes! Some years there would be Jewish children and their families would talk from experience about their Hanukkah celebrations. This year the first night of Hanukkah was the evening of November 27th and the celebration lasts eight days , ending on the evening of December 5th. Hanukkah usually is much closer to the celebration of Christmas, and the coincidence of it coming on Thanksgiving happens only rarely.
Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish friends! Shalom . . . . . . . . . . . .
Lamp photo and text from: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-features/.premium-1.561119
Other photos from Google Images, Public Domain