After Oct. 31, Christmas decorations are put up and the tunes of the season ring through stores everywhere. Lights are strung up and contests are even held to see whose house brings the most attention from neighbors. But behind all the Santa’s, reindeer, and bells, is a holiday that many people don’t pay attention to: Hannukah.
Hannukah is a holiday celebrated by people of the Jewish faith. The story of the holiday is that Judah Maccabee, a Jewish soldier, fought the Greek soldiers out of their land in order to be allowed to practice their religion of Judaism. After beating the Greeks, they wanted to light the candle in the Temple of Jerusalem, but there was only enough oil to last one night. The oil miraculously lasted eight nights and gives the holiday the nickname ‘Festival of Lights’.
Now, Hannukah is not really a truly major holiday for Jews today. Sure, it represents the beginning of the fight for religious freedom. But just because it’s not considered a biblical event in the Torah, that doesn’t mean that the practice of it is unnecessary. Thanks to Adam Sandler and his four versions of “The Hannukah Song”, people now know that, “It’s so much fun-akkah to celebrate Hannukah”.
Jews across the nation light a nine-branch-menorah and each night, light an additonal candle on it. According to Chabad Organization, “A menorah is lit in every household, or even by each individual within the household, and placed in a doorway or window.” There are many other practices such as eating latkes (potato pancakes) and jelly donuts to represent the oil from the origin of the holiday. Most families also give and receive seven small presents, and then one large present on the eighth night. To keep their kids behaved, some parents of young kids have also taken up the tradition of Harry the Hannukah fairy as a Jewish version of Santa.
Although it is religiously minor, it gives Jews the recognition that isn’t received the rest of the year. Even though most of the attention is due to the commercialization of the holiday season and the intention for inclusivity, Hannukah is the holiday that most non-Jewish people actually know. By not having to explain why it is spelled the way it is and why it is even a thing, they are able to proudly illustrate their holiday and have people know what they are doing. Unlike the many other major holidays that happen during the year for Jews, Hannukah is eight days of the year that bring attention to the religion and its traditions.
This holiday season, although Christmas dominates December, pay attention to the other celebrations happening throughout. Although the majority celebrates Christmas, try and appreciate the unique cultures and traditions that others are experiencing. To help bring necessary attention to Hannukah this year, take a listen to Spotify Hannukah playlist, play dreidel with some friends, or even just wish your Jewish friends a ‘Happy Hannukah’.
Jennah Klein, Community Chair