I have been doing this blog for several years and have done all kinds of Christmas traditions over the years and have just about run out of traditions to write about. I have been racking my brain and have asked my family to help and we have come up with a few new traditions. I would also ask if someone thinks of something I have not discussed please forward it to me and I will save it up for next year.
The first blog is not exactly a Christmas tradition, but with all the hype made about Chanukah and Thanksgiving starting on the same day this year, and the fact that Chanukah is always around Christmas time, I thought it would be a good subject to cover.
Now, what is interesting is that the Jewish holiday of Chanukah originates with a revolt. You see, when Alexander the Great died, his four Generals divvied up his territory, one being Syria and another Egypt. When the second generation of Generals had taken over, the Syrian General (Seleuces) got greedy and tried to take over Egypt. He was stopped when the Romans stepped in. This started the good relations between Rome and Egypt, which leads to Anthony and Cleopatra, which is another story. Nevertheless, I digress, Seleuces, on his way back home, takes his frustration out on Jerusalem. He knocks down the walls, kills a lot of Jews, loots the Temple and has the Hellenistic (Greek) Jews sacrifice at least one pig on the alter in the Temple (the number varies depending on where you read). The Hellenistic Jews do this in hopes of winning favor with Seleuces and stopping the destruction. This infuriates the Orthodox Jews. This also explains why the Hellenistic Jews are looked down upon and their widows are ignored in the distribution of food in the book of Acts chapter 6.
6 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
But this little fight brought around Deacons.
With destruction of Jerusalem, the Hasmonean family moves to the mountain outside of Jerusalem where they gather others. Their leaderís name was Judah, whom they nicknamed the Hammer, which in Hebrew is Maccabeus, thus the name of the revolt was The Maccabean revolt. The Maccabees were able to kick Seleuces out of Jerusalem. Upon taking over the temple, they had to cleanse it. They only found one vase of kosher oil for the golden lamp stand in the temple, and it was only enough to last one day. It takes seven days for the oil to be made Kosher for the golden lamp stand. Once the lamp is lit, it is not to go out. They lit the lamp and it burned for eight days until the new oil was ready. The miracle of God providing the lamp light is what the Jewish people celebrate during Chanukah.
Today, Jewish people celebrate by lighting eight candles placed in a Menorah, one new candle is lit each night to represent the days that the candle burnt on the one day of oil. The children are usually given a small present every night, after the candle is lit. They also have a lot of food traditions that are quite wonderful, that I do not have time and space to go into here.
Chanukah is called the festival of light because of the oil lamp that miraculously kept burning, but it is also fitting that the celebration of Chanukah illustrates the miracle of God, that Jesus is the Light of World.