I have an interesting relationship with Hannukah. It began in college. Mostly I’d ignore the holiday, until I realized I got depressed every year with Christmas festivities I could not partake in. (I do not begrudge anyone their Christmas celebrations, but they have never been my own.) Despite my agnosticism, I would find myself in a frantic search for Hannukah candles–not the white and blue ones sold at Target, but the beautiful multi-colored ones–every December.
Despite any religious beliefs, or lack thereof, there’s something about Hannukah that’s very easy to get behind. A day’s worth of oil lasting eight. We can all relate to this. Anyone who’s stretched out that last tank of gas far after the dummy lights in their car went off, or that last bit of paycheck at the end of the month can relate to this. The struggle is punctuated by every-day miracles. And whether you have a deep belief in religion or simply enjoy partaking in traditions, there’s a place for all manner of celebration.
Hannukah is only a minor holiday in the Jewish religion; fried foods such as potato latkes, dreidel, candle lighting and small amounts of gelt (coins or chocolate) are the only real traditions. Extravagant gift-giving isn’t really part of the deal. This year, the 2nd night of Hannukah fell on the Winter Solstice–a festival of lights during the dark of winter reminds us that the light will return.
I will be celebrating with potato latkes and dreidel, focusing on the positive, attending a Hannukah party that does not discriminate against people in inter-faith relationships. (I will be attending Todd’s family’s Christmas celebration this year as well.)
Happy holidays to you! Whatever it is you celebrate, may it be merry and full of cheer. I wish you all the joy and magic of the season.
For further reading:
- Chanukah 101 (MPR)
- A Jewish Girl’s Holiday Dilemma: Christmas vs. Hannukah
- A Jew’s View of Christmas
- Judaism 101: Channukah