As the days get shorter and darkness takes over a larger portion of the clock, we add more light to the world. We light up our houses, streets and even trees. This tradition of lights leads back millennia.
Beyond literal light, this time of year encourages increasing light in soul. Joy is spread through buying gifts for others and coming closer to God.
While Christmas remains an obvious reason for this light, other holidays and faiths contribute worldwide. Along with Christmas, Hanukkah brightens the world at the end of December. Understanding this holiday can bring more peace on Earth and sincerity as we exchange, “Happy Holidays.”
The condensed version of Hanukkah’s story begins during the Syrians’ oppression over the Jews in the second century B.C.E. They refused to let them practice their religion. A small group of rebels known as the Maccabees regained power over the pagan Syrians and sought to rededicate one of their temples.
The rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem required a menorah, a sacred candle, to be lit for eight nights. They could only find enough oil for one night. However, a miracle occurred, and the oil lasted for all eight nights. This allowed the Jewish people to practice in their temple again.
Today, Jews celebrate this miracle as most people celebrate events, spending time with family and feasting on delicious food. Some traditional foods eaten during Hanukkah are latkes, potato pancakes, and sufganiyot —
While Jewish people have celebrated Hanukkah for centuries, the tradition of giving presents has grown more popular since the 1950s. Since it falls near Christmas, Americanized Hanukkah most commonly includes gift giving. Traditionally, the main presents exchanged included parents giving their children money known as Hanukkah gelt.
Every night of Hanukkah, a candle on the household’s menorah is lit to remember the miracle centuries ago.
This literal light glows, combining with the twinkling of Christmas lights to illuminate the globe during the Northern Hemisphere’s coldest and darkest season.
While we celebrate the birth of our Savior, we can find unity with people of other faiths, knowing they are celebrating God’s power. We can relate over traditional stories, meals and lights.