Once we left Daylight Savings Time in November, our evenings darkened earlier. The good news is that it is lighter in the morning. The better news is that, with the coming of the holiday season, the neighborhood lights help twinkle our way home. While the Christmas holiday accounts for much of the exterior lighting, Hanukkah, a joyous Jewish holiday, is celebrated for eight days in November or December and often coincides with the Christian tradition of Christmas.
Also known as the Festival of Lights, this tradition gets its significance from the events that unfolded over 2,000 years ago. The story revolves around the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after it was reclaimed from the Syrian-Greek rulers by a group of Jewish rebels known as the Maccabees.
The central theme of Hanukkah embodies resilience, faith, and the triumph of light over darkness. The legend tells of the miracle where a small amount of pure oil, enough for just one day, illuminated the temple’s menorah for eight consecutive days, symbolizing a divine presence and the enduring spirit of hope.
Decorations play a significant role in commemorating Hanukkah. The most iconic symbol is the menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum. Each night of the holiday, an additional candle is lit on the menorah, along with the shamash, the helper candle used to light the others. This ritual symbolizes the increasing light and joy throughout the festival. Families often have their menorahs, some passed down through generations, prominently displayed in their homes.
Another customary decoration is the dreidel, a four-sided spinning top with Hebrew letters on each side, representing the phrase “A great miracle happened there.” Families and friends gather to play games with the dreidel, adding a playful element to the celebration.
Traditional foods also contribute to the festive ambiance. Oil plays a symbolic role, recalling the oil miracle, so fried foods like latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts) are popular treats during Hanukkah. These culinary delights further emphasize the holiday’s theme of light and oil.
Beyond physical decorations, the spiritual aspect of Hanukkah involves introspection, gratitude, and spreading kindness. Families engage in prayers, recite blessings, and read from the Hanukkah story, fostering a sense of community and shared faith.
Moreover, the custom of giving gifts on each of the eight days of Hanukkah, especially gelt (chocolate coins), adds to the festive spirit. It symbolizes spreading joy and acknowledges the importance of charity and generosity within the community.
So on your evening drives, when you see a menorah in a window or exterior lights of blue and white, your REALTOR® at the Yosha Snyder Group reminds you that the Festival of Lights and the spirit of faith and resilience resides within.