Happy Hanukkah! Not everyone is used to hearing that expression at this time of year, but we should all be conscious of the fact that it conveys a spirit of joy and faith to our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community. While Hannukah is not one of the high holy days of Judaism, it is, never the less, a time in the Jewish calendar that brings people together in a spirit of celebration and joy.
Hannukah has its origin in the Jewish tradition that in about the second century, and commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple. Hanukkah lasts eight nights and days, and the celebration includes the nightly lighting of the Menorah, along with prayer and song. The Menorah is a candelabrum that holds eight “lights” (the candles) plus one more, the shamash, which is lit every night and is used as the source to light all the other candles. The shamash is typically given a special separate or raised spot on the Menorah to distinguish it.
While Hannukah is a Hebreic expression, it’s more popular title is the Festival of Lights. Jewish traditions celebrating light form the foundation of many Christian symbols, since both traditions see light as a beautiful symbol of God’s presence, optimism and the ability to move forward. In those same traditions, darkness and the night symbolize the opposite-fear, uncertainty and sometimes evil. So in both cultures and others as well, light and darkness are used to convey emotions, views and values.
Let’s move towards the light.