Chanukah History --Very Ot And Somewhat Long

Lounge By itsacake Updated 13 Nov 2005 , 8:20am by itsacake

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itsacake Posted 11 Nov 2005 , 11:21pm
post #1 of 11

Hello Everyone,

I see that there is some interest in Chanukah cakes and so I hope you don't mind if I post a little bit about the story of Chanukah for those who might be interested. This is a very basic history and so I hope no one will be offended if they learned it differently. If I got something really wrong, please PM me and we can correct it.

Let me first say that Chanukah is definitely not Jewish Christmas. It's an older holiday from around 175 BCE. It seems the "evil" Assyrian King Antiochus was persecuting the kingdom of Israel. He caused the Temple to be defiled and didn't allow the Jews to worship or study their sacred books. Along came Judah Maccabee and his father and brothers and led the Jews in an uprising from which they emerged victorious and captured back the Temple and regained their freedom to worship. That alone would be a good reason to celebrate! But it isn't the main thrust of the holiday.

It seems that when the Temple was purified and the priests went to light the Holy Lamp --the seven branched Menorah-- there was only olive oil enough so that the lamp would burn for 1 day. The problem was that it would take 8 days to make new oil. The lamp was lit. The process to make the oil was begun......and a Great Miracle Happenened--the oil lasted for eight days (until the new oil was made). Thus we celebrate Chanukah every year by lighting a special 9-branched menorah (called technically a Chanukiah).

The dreydle come into the story (according to folklore at least) because during the time that Torah study (study of the holy books) was not allowed, people used to go into the woods or gather other places and study, but if they heard poeple approaching they would pretend to be gambling by playing with spinning tops. The letters on the sides of the dreydle (which is a four-sided top) today stand for the Hebrew words "Great Miracle Happened There" (or in Israel "Great Miracle Happened Here") referring to oil lasting 8 days.

Traditional Chanukah foods are latkes which are potato pancakes fried in oil, bunelos which are strips of dough fried in oil and drizzled with honey, or jelly donuts (also fried in oil). In other words Oil is the operative word here.

Thanks for letting me tell the story. icon_smile.gif

10 replies
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ozzynjojo Posted 11 Nov 2005 , 11:24pm
post #2 of 11

Nice story, very interesting. Thank you!

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thesocialfrog Posted 11 Nov 2005 , 11:26pm
post #3 of 11

Very Interesting, Thank You for sharing icon_smile.gif

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gdixoncakes Posted 11 Nov 2005 , 11:30pm
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Yes, thank you. That was very informative and interesting. I didn't know all of that. Thanks again.

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blondmary Posted 11 Nov 2005 , 11:42pm
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Thank you for sharing icon_rolleyes.gif


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briansbaker Posted 12 Nov 2005 , 12:09am
post #6 of 11

I love to read stories!!! That was a wonderful story!!
I have one.. Has anyone ever heard of Las Posadas? My entire family participates in the making of Las Posadas every year.. this is what it means..

Lodging -"Posadas" in Spanish - are some of the most popular festivals that are celebrated during December in Mexico. They are done to remember the pilgrimage by Joseph and Mary who were looking for a place to stay in Bethlehem.

The Lodgings start from the 16th of December until the night of the 24th. The people of the neighborhood celebrate this by going to different houses each night. A procession is formed by two people who carry the statues of Mary, Joseph, and an angel. They are also accompanied by a donkey. People carry candles, sing litanies (prayers), stand by the door of a house and ask for lodging.

Those people who are already inside, sing songs denying their entry until they see that it is Joseph and Mary asking for lodging.

Towards the end of the celebration, the doors are opened and the people who were standing outside are let in. Here is where the fun begins. Punch is made from hot fruits; food and some goodies are served to everyone.

Finally, the kids get to break a piñata. Each is given a turn to try to hit the piñata. Their eyes are covered with a bandana, they are given a stick and turned around several times. Those standing by try to tell the boy or girl where the piñata exactly is, since it is hanging from a rope and being pulled by an adult. When the pinata is broken, candy and fruit fall out and everyone dashes to get some. This is the best part of Las Posadas!

We have changed it a little. Each invite different people and different people will be chosen to actually play the part of Mary and Joseph.. Instead of statues.. We all get together and make the outfits.. We also have an Angel who walks behind everyone.. With big beautiful wings.. We start singing at the end of the block and make our way to the house.. Then that is where we start singing.. We also have made a decision that we serve a dinner to all who attend..Once all the singing is over and everyone is inside we do the Rosary 10 times.. It is just beautiful..
We normally just give out candy bags to the children.. Depending on the weather, so far it has been wayyyyyy to cold to let the children break a pinata outside.. I can't wait for this years to begin.. I love participating in Las Posadas and being able to have my kids either be in it or just watch and learn about the birth of Jesus Christ.. And the joy of being together with our entire family is just so sweet!
Hope you enjoyed my story as I enjoy sharing it with all of you!!!

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TamiAZ Posted 12 Nov 2005 , 12:18am
post #7 of 11

Thanks for the great stories.. I've printed them out!! I'm working on a degree in elementary education and I'm wanting to learn as much as I can about different cultures and their traditions...This is a great start!! thumbs_up.gif

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itsacake Posted 12 Nov 2005 , 7:10pm
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Great story! I learned about Las Posadas in school, but didn't kmow it was done outside Mexico. It sounds like a lot of fun while teaching about charity and being kind to those in need.. What a great way to involve the children in their heritage!

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ThePastryDiva Posted 13 Nov 2005 , 5:59am
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We used to call them "parrandas" in Puerto Rico...somewhat like what you described in Las Posadas but not so elaborate, mostly Christmas caroling but with "personal" messages about the people who's house you stop by.

Sort of a sing songy rhyme about your actions throughout the year to your neighbors. It takes someone very talented to sing these verses from house to house.

If you've been " particularly" not must quickly bring out the "coquito"...sort of a coconut rum egg nog and offer it to the roaming band of singers so they do not air your dirty

It's all done for fun though and not to hurt ( they rhymes are NEVER mean..just pretty funny! sometimes political statements are interwoven in these too)

the open carports are supposed to be covered in walls made of interwoven palm fonds and tables loaded with food are placed there.

It's sort of a roaming party with the group getting bigger and bigger as they go from house to house with homemade instruments.

In my families neighborhood the parade was supposed to end at the local church around midnight for a midnight mass.

Then you went home...and eighter opened up the gifts or went to bed and got up the next day and opened gifts...

But we didnt' believe in Santa Clause..It was the 3 Wise men on January 6th. We had to put grass or straw and bowls of water under our beds to feed the hungry and thirsty camels the 3 wise men would be riding.

They would eat and drink, and leave every they were looking for the baby Jesus...a small token.

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JennT Posted 13 Nov 2005 , 6:37am
post #10 of 11

itsacake - thanks so much for posting that! I've always wondered just what Chanukah was, now I know! icon_smile.gif Maybe you can answer this question...what is the difference between Chanukah & Hannukah? And I'm I correct in thinking that the latter follows the former...sort of in succession? Wanting to learn more..... icon_rolleyes.gif

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itsacake Posted 13 Nov 2005 , 8:20am
post #11 of 11

Hi JennT,

Chanukah and Hannukah are actually just two different ways of spelling the Hebrew word which is the name of the holiday. Since the Hebrew alphabet and English alphabet don't have exactly the same letters, both of these spellings are close to the correct pronunciation, but not quite. The word means "dedication" and refers to the rededication of the Temple in the story.

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