Day Three of eleven days of the Winter Solstice Event, which will end Dec. 31, 2012.
Menorah made of recycled perfume bottles from the 19th Century.
Hanukkah – the Festival of Lights
I’ll start with a story that is a carry-over from the story I started this blog event with – me walking home from my aunt’s house after dark. The distance of three blocks was well-lit with Christmas lights and Menorah candles in the windows of the homes and businesses I passed. The reason I was heading home was that, still in my Catholic school uniform, I had left my aunt’s after lighting the Menorah candles. I was raised in a bi-religious (is that a real term?) family, Irish/Scots Catholic, Pennsylvania Dutch Methodist on one side, Jewish on the other. I thought this was normal, but then my neighborhood, right next to the University of Pennsylvania, was filled with a mixture of cultures, ethnicities and religions not found in many other places.
I never spun a dreidel, but I did love Hanukkah gelt, milk chocolate ‘coins’ tightly wrapped in gold foil. I did understand the meaning of Hanukkah, because my aunt gave me a book that I am still looking to replace, but can’t find – “A Child’s History of the Hebrew People” with David and Goliath on the cover.
The word Hanukkah means “devotion” in Hebrew. Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E.
The trouble between the Jews and the Syrian-Greeks began In 168 B.C.E. when the Jewish Temple was seized by Syrian-Greek soldiers and dedicated to the worship of the god Zeus. Fear of punishment kept the Jews from fighting back, but the turning point came in 167 B.C.E. Antiochus, a Syrian-Greek emperor, decreed that the Jewish faith was outlawed, and any found observing it would be put to death.
Residents of the little village of Modiin, near Jerusalem began the rebellion. After soldiers tried to force them to eat pork, and worship Greek Gods. Mattathias, a Jewish High Priest, led a sword fight, and the Jews killed all the Greek soldiers. When others joined them, they retook their land from the Greeks. These Jewish rebels were known as Maccabees.
Finding the temple in Jerusalem defiled by the Greeks, the Macabees wanted to purify the Temple by burning ritual oil in the Temple’s menorah for eight days. However, there was only enough oil for one day. Through some miracle, the oil lasted the eight days and the tradition of rememberance is carried on to his day by the eight-day lighting of the menorah, typically with candles, not oil.
The Hebrew calendar is based on lunar cycles, and Hanukkah can fall between November and late December. Although not strictly in line with the theme of Winter Solstice of this blog, it shows that the use of light in the darkest month of the year is reflected in Hanukkah.
That is my attempt to succinctly convey the story of Hanukkah – and a girl who equated the lights of both religion as comforting and uplifting around the time of the Winter Solstice.
I feel that my pure perfume Temple would be an appropriate giveaway for today’s theme. It comes in a 3.5 ml bottle. It is very potent and can be used on the skin or a drop or two added to water heated over a tea candle. I created Temple using aromatics drawn from Buddhist and Ayurvedic healing plants because I believed they had a healing effect on the psyche of people who had suffered trauma. Precious and rare Oud, from the powerful wood of the aloeswood tree, is known to slow down brain waves from beta – the waves that are in play when we’re awake, working, busy, to alpha – the deeper relaxation waves that can induce meditation. Many who have visited Temples in Japan and India tell me that my perfume smells just like those temples! I apologize that I don’t have a particular scent reminiscent of a Jewish Temple! Do you associate a particular aroma with a synagogue? Well, the winner can enjoy my Temple in its place. Comments will be accepted until 10 a.m. tomorrow, Dec. 24th and the winner will be randomly selected at that time and notified by email.