The winter holidays are here and it’s a great time to learn more about the traditions your familiar with and get to know the ones you aren’t. Here are some facts and stories you may not have known about just a few of the ways people celebrate during December.
Hanukkah: It’s Not All About the Oil
If you have only a passing familiarity with Hanukkah and its associated traditions, you may know it as a celebration of the lamp oil that lasted for eight nights when it only should have been enough for one. But this is only one part of the story, and one that doesn’t show up in the narrative until later versions. The main purpose of Hanukkah is to celebrate the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, a major victory in the Maccabean Revolt. The temple had been repurposed as an altar to Zeus and needed to be cleansed and reclaimed, which included lighting the menorah. The rededication of the temple does include the story of how a single flask of the kosher oil needed to light the menorah miraculously lasted long enough for a new batch to be prepared, but not in the earliest accounts of the event. Continue reading