It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And there are a thousand ways to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah that everyone should know.
Not because one but two special holidays are around the corner. Hanukkah and Christmas. If you belong to an interfaith family (or not) and want to celebrate both holidays with your friends and family, then you should go for it! However, we think that you should make sure you and everybody else know exactly what you’re celebrating. It increases the joy multiple folds.
If you want to educate your children or anyone about Hanukkah tradition and Christmas celebrations, here’s the perfect guide to follow.
What? You thought we’d leave you hanging? No way, we don’t want to see you suffer like Ross from F.R.I.E.N.D.S did, dressed as the Holiday Armadillo, in episode 10 of season 7, trying to explain Hanukkah and their Jewish heritage to his son, Ben.
Here are some things everyone should know about Hanukkah, then we’ll move on to Christmas.
It Changes Dates
The Jewish calendar follows the moon; it is lunar, which is why the date for Hanukkah keeps changing around in December every year following the Roman solar calendar. The actual date stays the same. If you don’t have a Jewish calendar at home and it becomes difficult to follow the holiday date, you can always ask Siri or Google to remind you.
It Celebrates a Historical Event
As Hanukkah comes around simultaneously with Christmas, it is very easy to confuse it as a religious holiday. But the fact is that it commemorates a historical event of restoring a temple. In 200BC, A Syrian army destroyed a Jewish temple, and the people were prohibited from practicing their religion freely. Then a small Jewish army attacked and defeated the Syrians to put the temple back together. Jewish people remember this day by lighting candles and saying prayers.
One of the most interesting Hanukkah facts is that it’s celebrated for eight nights. When the Jewish army had defeated the Syrian army, it was revealed that the oil that was supposed to light the candelabra was only enough for one night. More oil was asked for; however, a miracle happened and the oil that should have lasted only one night lasted for eight long nights. This is why Hanukkah is called the Festival of Lights.
Special Hanukkah Dishes
If you’re hosting a Hanukkah dinner or have been invited to a Hanukkah party, here are some mouth-watering dishes you can expect to be munching on.
For Hanukkah, oil is the special ingredient; thus, you will be eating a lot of fried food, including latkes, potato pancakes and grated onion fried in lots of oil; you’ll be eating these with sour cream.
Lighting a Hanukkiah
A special tradition for the nights of Hanukkah is lighting the Hanukkiah, an 8 spots candle. One candle holder, called the worker candle, is slightly higher than the rest. It is used to light all the other candles.
Now that you know your Hanukkah essentials let’s move on to explaining Christmas. Here are some things you need to know.
According to some sources, Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th; in fact, it’s pretty difficult to know his exact date of birth. The church, however, decided to proclaim December 25th as Jesus’s birthday. Chances are it was done to make the pagans accept Christianity as their religion as they also celebrated pagan festivals around this date.
One of the most important elements of the Christmas celebrations is the tree. There’s no Christmas without a Christmas tree. But what’s the logic behind it? The truth is, back in the day, Romans used to decorate their homes with green branches and trees in the winters. While the early Christians weren’t fond of the idea, the German’s embraced the tree and introduced it to the new world in the 1800s. When Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, who was German, he brought along a Christmas tree to England and since then, the practice has been widely popular. It even came to the U.S.
Legend has it that St. Nicholas came across a poor family with three daughters and their widowed father. The man struggled to collect money for his daughters’ dowries, to give to the groom’s families when they got married. When St. Nicholas saw this, he decided to put gold coins into their house’s chimney. The coins landed in one of the girls stocking, which was drying by the fireplace. This gave birth to the tradition of hanging stockings on Christmas on the fireplace. But instead of receiving gold coins, we get candy.
Gift Giving and Receiving
Once again, the royal set the trend of giving and receiving gifts on Christmas. Previously, on New Year’s Eve, people exchanged gifts as a token of luck for the coming year. However, when Prince Albert and Queen Victoria bought presents for their children on Christmas, the practice shifted and exchanging gifts became a way to remember when Magi brought presents for Jesus.
Santa’s Red Clothes
Nope, Santa wasn’t always wearing red clothes. He would be in blue or green or purple because that was the theme. The multi-national company Coca-Cola decided that it wants Santa to be red and white, which are its colors, and that’s exactly what happened. The Santa Claus we see today in a red suit with white fur is the popularised look created for the jolly old man by Coca-Cola.
The mistletoe was known for its ability to cure many illnesses. In the first century, the idea that it could restore fertility became extremely popular. This was based on the fact that the plant could blossom in the cold winters. Since then, the mistletoe has become an essential component of the Christmas celebrations. If a man and woman are caught standing under the mistletoe, the man must get a kiss from the woman. It was believed that bad luck follows if the two refuse to kiss.