Thursday, December 02, 2010

Festival of Light

As I write this, the first snow of the season is gently falling. The world looks like something right off of a Christmas card.

photo: AllJewishLinks.com
And I'm writing about Hanukkah.

(I don't need to go looking for irony. It finds me.)

Last year, I wrote a short piece about Hanukkah's place in the Christian tradition. After that, I made a mental note to learn more about Hanukkah and celebrate it next year.

(Which is now this year.)

And then I promptly forgot about it.

This year, Hanukkah is Dec. 1-9. The first candle of the menorah was to have been lit at sundown last night.

Sigh.

I have to admit, this tends to be the way I approach the Jewish feasts. I want to celebrate, to incorporate the richness of this part of my heritage into the rhythm of my family's year... but I'm stymied by a perfectionistic need to completely understand the festivals and get things just right.

And sometimes I just need to take a step.

So, no time like the present. (And I'm not talking about the gift-wrapped kind.)

My knowledge of the story of Hanukkah (or Chanukah) has been pretty limited. Aside from potato pancakes and that Adam Sandler song, I knew it had to do with:
  • a hostile Gentile occupation of Israel, including the Temple in Jerusalem
  • a series of battles and an eventual Jewish victory
  • a subsequent need to cleanse/rededicate the Temple
  • only enough oil for one day's fire for rededication
  • a miracle where God caused that tiny bit of oil to last for eight days

Through this site, I learned much more about Hanukkah's history, including the stories of Mattityahu the priest and Chanah and her seven sons.

(Side note: It seems Hanukkah was named for a woman. I never would've guessed.)

But here's another interesting and often-missed fact about Hanukkah:

Jesus observed it. And it was during that festival that He revealed Himself as the Messiah and spoke openly of His unity with the Father. I'm not sure if He was making a connection by making that statement during that particular feast, but it's worth pondering.

Maybe I'll ponder it while lighting a candle.

~~~~~

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