When I was in school as a kid I used to wonder with envy why the Jewish kids got double holidays at Christmas. My mom tried in vain to explain something about Hanukah but somehow the importance of it didn’t settle in my long term memory. But I don’t think I’m alone in this, especially in our current culture.
Why should we even care about Hanukah; after all, this is “Christmas country”! Why muddy the waters? Because, No Hanukah, No Christmas! Let me explain.
Hanukah is the Jewish holiday commemorating the re-dedication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. The Seleucids gradually tried to force Hellenization upon the Jewish people in their territory by outlawing Judaism. This eventually led to the revolt of the Jews under Seleucid control, which led to the Jews achieving independence from the Seleucid empire. This is how you get to the bottom line:
No Maccabean revolt, no Jews
No Jews, no Mary and Joseph
No Mary & Joseph, no Jesus
No Jesus, No Christmas!
Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication. The historian, Josephus puts it this way:
“Now Judas (Maccabee) celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for eight days, and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon; but he feasted them upon very rich and splendid sacrifices; and he honored God, and delighted them by hymns and psalms. Nay, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs, when, after a long time of intermission, they unexpectedly had regained the freedom of their worship, that they made it a law for their posterity, that they should keep a festival, on account of the restoration of their temple worship, for eight days. And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it Lights…… “
What does all of this have to do with us as seniors? This story is a very significant part of our Judeo/Christian heritage but it is hardly taught these days. So we need to fill in the cultural and educational gaps for our kids and grand kids whenever we can. In the absence of historical truth, falsehood prevails. When the Jewish roots of Christianity are forgotten it gives rise to anti Semitism which is so prevalent in many parts of our culture, especially on college campuses.
So, when you’re telling your grand kids about the Baby in the manger this year, remember to also tell them He was born of Jewish decent.
Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!
Bill Milby, CSA, is a Certified Senior Adviser and a Director of Visiting Angels® of Macon, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at email@example.com
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