Monday, December 14, 2009

Happy Holidays- by Joe Schmitz

It can easily said that December is the time of giving, and receiving. The time of decorations and holiday lights. More the vast majority of Shelby County, Christmas is the holiday of choice. With 33% of the world as Christians and only .2% as Jews it would be easy to see how most people would know very little about the ancient tradition of Hanukkah. Hanukkah translates from Hebrew into English as: “establishing” or “dedication.” This old custom has also been know as the Festival of Lights, the Festival of Dedication (to the temple of Jerusalem), or the romanized version, Chanukah. It is an eight-day Jewish Holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the calendar the Hebrews use, which may occur at any time from late November to late December. This year the celebration is going to be held from Sunset, December 11th to sunset, December 19th.The festival is observed by lighting the candles on a special Candelabrum, a nine-branched Menorah, one extra light on each night of the holiday, working up to eight on the last night. Another candle named a Shamash (translated "guard" or "servant") is lit every night so it can light the rest, and is generally above or below the rest. There are other additions to the daily prayer, and an insert is added to the blessings after meals. Hanukkah is not a fasting holiday, and there is no obligation to refrain from certain activities as would be on a Sabbath day.
The celebration of Hanukkah has been a part of Jewish families for hundreds of years, it is a tradition that is a big part of the holiday season. On each night of Hanukkah there are gifts that are received or exchanged within the house households, generally following or preceding a meal. These customs are much like those observed by the Christians this time of year. So, when you are opening your presents, or enjoying a nice meal keep in mind that you aren't the only ones celebrating this season. There are a lot of different aspects of life, be mindful and respectful to all of them. After all, the season's spirit is about being grateful for the past and the present, and every one of us have our part in each. Coexist.

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