Friends from Liberty Pole, a town even smaller than us here in the End of the Rainbow Valley joined us Sunday night for the final night of the Festival of Lights, Chanuka, a minor jewish holiday to commemorate the first fight for religious freedom in 165 BCE.
One would think religious fighting would be over by now but unfortunately it continues which makes understanding any holiday’s history and symbolism even more important. We spent the past eight days sharing the holiday with friends, family and some times just the two of us.
We retold the story of the small band of Maccabees victoriously defeating Antiochus’ big Assyrian army, ate traditional foods like latkes (potato pancakes) fried in oil to remember the destroyed synagogue’s miracle of the one day supply of oil miraculously lasting eight days (https://lifeintheendoftherainbowvalley.blog/2019/12/26/tbt-taters/) sang traditional songs, played dreidl, a top game. Let me explain…
During history this dreidl game served the purpose of protecting those praying/ studying Judaism. When guards would arrive to make sure Jews weren’t practicing their religion, they would just discover dreidl being played as a guise.
Pictured above is one of the littles who was the grand prize winner in our family night dreidl game. Each side of the dreidl has a the first letter of the hebrew phrase A great miracle happened here. Depending on which side the top lands determines if you don’t remove anything from the pot, put in two coins, take half/all. Candy/beans/chocolate/real coins can be used for playing the game. Natureman’s coin supply certainly came in handy.
And children and adults nowadays experience a gift exchange during the eight nights of the holiday. Originally children would receive Gelt (Money) a coin/two. The coins would be used to buy candy/ small toy. Emphasis was also put on sharing / using some of one’s Chanuka gelt for charity. Nowadays instead of just receiving coinage, presents are bought and bestowed. Usually one big gift and the other smaller items. I’ve shared before about my family’s tradition of playing a hot and cold search for the hidden presents. This year I made a list of where I hid the gifts. My Mom used to find some of our gifts years later but the laugh we got then was worth much more than the items!
This year I ran out of wrapping paper! Finally after numerous calls, I discovered a couple rolls at Target. Natureman didn’t realize my wrapping woes so I had placed his gifts unwrapped around the house.
Natureman hadn’t noticed my unwrapped additions and when asked by his children if he was going to go look for his evening’s gift he replied he must not be receiving any. I stated that they were there, he just had to look for them. The next day he was touching and eyeing the lovely new pillar blue candle and asking if I had bought it on sale ( He’s the one who loves lighting candles any meal time so many times I buy candles at garage sales) I replied “No, actually I didn’t because I saw it and knew it’d be perfect during Chanuka and you actually have found one of your Chanuka gifts.” He was taken aback. Oh, the joys of finding an unwrapped gift!
May the light of the season bring light and some peace as gifts into all our worlds wrapped / unwrapped…