No matter how it’s spelled or how it’s celebrated in different households, this year, the holiday – we spell it Chanukah in my house – is Dec. 10 - Dec. 18.
And like most of this year’s events, because of COVID, families will celebrate it differently, but they will celebrate it.
Comedian Alan King described this holiday and all my tribe’s holidays perfectly when he said, “All Jewish holidays are the same: They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.”
The ones trying to kill us this time – about 165 B.C.E. – were the Syrian-Greeks under King Antiochus Epiphanes.
Judah Macabee and his small group of ragtag followers overcame the bad guys and cleaned and rededicated the Temple the bad guys had desecrated.
An oil-burning eternal light had been extinguished by the Syrian-Greeks and only enough oil was found to rekindle it for one day.
When a messenger took eight days to bring more, the day’s oil had miraculously lasted eight.
That’s the reason for the Chanukah candles being lit for eight nights.
Gramma used to bruise her knuckles grating a gazillion potatoes for a special meal of latkes. These days, food processors grind up some of those memories, but the latkes – topped with applesauce or sour cream depending on where the ancestors came from – are still a treat.
Chanukah isn’t the “Jewish Christmas” and has nothing at all to do with Christmas, other than falling in the same month.
Children getting Chanukah presents isn’t Biblical, it’s just traditional, probably based on Jewish kids wanting to know why neighbor kids were getting Christmas gifts and they weren’t getting any for Chanukah.
There are games like the dreidel game, there are songs like Adam Sandler’s “Chanukah song,” and there are decorations and even lights.
We need Chanukah right about now because it’s about a miracle, and who doesn’t need a miracle?
It’s considered a “minor holiday,” but when is a miracle ever minor?
However you spell it, Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Boxing Day, Happy Genocide Prevention Day, Happy International Civil Aviation Day, Happy Crossword Puzzle Day, and Happy Everything else anyone celebrates in December.