Thursday, December 3, 2009

Holidays in this season...Part One Hanukkah

Hanukkah starts at sundown next Friday, December 11th and continues for eight days.  As the first celebration in what we all consider a "holiday season" I thought I would provide a little insight and background into the origin and rituals of each one.  At Crescent Moon we make it a point to familiarize ourselves with the items used in the celebrations because it pretty much means one of our artists or maybe several have created unique works of art glass from them.  Our Hanukkah menorahs are a part of our complete Judaica line in the shop.  Artists such as Andrew Jackson Pollack, Tamara Baskin and Sara Beames have become favorites here.  Read on...

reprinted from About.Com:Judaism
The festival of Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah) was established to commemorate the Jewish Maccabees' military victory over the Greek-Syrians and the re-dedication of the Second Temple, which had been desecrated by the Greek-Syrians, to the worship of God. Thus, Hanukkah is a celebration of Jewish national survival and religious freedom.

Celebrating Hanukkah
In commemoration of these miracles, a Hanukkah Menorah (also called a Hanukkiah) is lit during each of the eight nights of Hanukkah. Lighting the Hanukkah Menorah is the central observance of the festival. One candle is lit the first night, and an additional candle is lit each successive night. Thus, on the last night of Hanukkah, all eight candles of the Hanukkiah are lit. The candles should be lit by a window or door in order to fulfill the commandment to "publicize the miracle." While lighting the candles, blessings are recited and the ancient chant Hanerot Hallalu is traditionally sung. After lighting the candles, it is a tradition to sing Maoz Tzur.

Hanukkah is a fun festival, especially for children. After lighting the Hanukkah candles together, families (and often invited guests) will eat and play games. Traditional Hanukkah food is oil-rich in commemoration of the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days. Potato pancakes (Latkas in Yiddish, Livivot in Hebrew) are a Hanukkah favorite. Israelis eat Hanukkah doughnuts called soofganiot. Dreidel (sivovon in Hebrew) is a traditional Hanukkah game, with game rules so simple that the whole family, from toddlers to grandparents can play together. The custom of giving Hanukkah gelt (money) to children has evolved into a gift-giving tradition in many Jewish families today.

Here are some of the Hanukkah items currently on display here at Crescent Moon.

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