Ethan & Maggie light the candles for the second night of Chanukah. Tomorrow they will join a Jewish family from school for a party. What fun that they can participate in the celebration (and even get to practice some of the Hebrew they are learning). One special thing about our candles this year is that we hand-dipped them ourselves! The kids even helped.
One more day until we light the first candle of Chanukah! Hopefully, you have done some of the background reading that I suggested to understand the background for this holiday.
First, just a little explanation of the English spelling of the holiday. You have probably seen both of these spellings: Chanukah and Hanukkah. The reason is due to differing transliterations for the Hebrew letters in the word: Chet-Nun-Waw-Kaf-Hey חנוכה. The Hebrew word means “dedication” or “consecration.”
The holiday commemorates the eight days that the one-day-supply of consecrated oil burned in the Temple until more consecrated oil was available. This miracle of the light is re-enacted by lighting candles each night for the eight days of Chanukah. A special candelabra/menorah which holds 9 candles is used (this is different than the 7-branch menorah). One candle (the Shamash) is used to light the other candles. So, on the first night there are actually two candles burning, on the second night, three candles burn, etc. The candles are lit and allowed to burn until they are completely consumed.
Rather than give you details of how the holiday is celebrated (which you can easily find with a quick Google search), I want to tell you why we celebrate it as a family. We’re not Jewish. But our Christian heritage is rooted in the Hebrew bible and the journeys told in Scripture. It’s not that we have to celebrate the holiday. Rather, it is an opportunity to choose to celebrate a miracle that demonstrates the power of God and his care for his people. We celebrate other holidays (Independence Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving Day… we even join with our neighborhood in celebrating Halloween). Why not also celebrate a holiday that specifically remembers and recounts a part of the history of the people of God? It is a great way to get into the history of Israel.
As we celebrate, I’ll post photos of some of our traditions (and maybe even a few recipes!).
Hanukkah is probably the Jewish holiday with which non-Jews are most familiar. While it is celebrated close to Christmas, it historically predates Christmas and is a very different celebration. Continue reading →
Thanksgiving is over, and our eyes are turning toward the next big family holiday. Our Sundays will be filled with Advent traditions, and the countdown to December 25th has begun. But don’t miss celebrating one more wonderful holiday that commemorates another miraculous provision of the Lord. Chanukah is just around the corner! You may already know some things about this 8-day celebration, the Feast of Lights, but over the next two weeks I’ll recount more of the history and traditions (and a little bit of Hebrew!) as we count down to the first night of Chanukah in 2009–Friday evening, December 11th!