Blending Traditions: Hanukkah
Hanukkah is celebrated for 8 days starting the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev (late November/early December). Candles are central to every Hanukkah celebration, traditionally displayed in a Menorah or Hanukiah.
Sometimes called the Jewish festival of lights, “Hanukkah” means “dedication” in Hebrew. This holiday commemorates the Jewish victory over the Syrian Greeks in 165 B.C.E. in which the holy Temple was reclaimed. In a desire to purify the Temple, Jewish soldiers wanted to burn ritual oil in the Temple’s Menorah for eight straight days but there was only enough oil for one day. Miraculously, that small amount of oil lasted all eight days. The eight candles of a Menorah represent each of those days. A a ninth candle (usually set higher, in the middle) serves as the candle for lighting the others.
After decorating gingerbread houses (an annual tradition in our household), we made a humble little Menorah, gingerbread-style using graham crackers, frosting, and candy.
It turned out a little silly but the kids got the idea and it provided a perfect opportunity for a discussion of different faiths all around the world.