Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Bissle Channukah Mishigas (Yiddish: A Little Channukah Craziness)

Hi everyone, this is Josh posting. This is my first post (aside from our trip to Scotland and Rome) to Little Maple’s Blog, so be gentle.

My webmistress asked me to post something related to Channukah. First, there are at least 1200 different spellings of the word "Channukah" as it is not English, but transliterated Hebrew and so it's fair game on spelling. The pronunciation is the kicker. When saying Channukah, think of a soft guttural "Loch Ness", not "chocolate chips". Thus ends my grammar lesson.

One link that offers some really cool content like free e-greeting cards, videos, songs and cooking instructions for latkes and Israeli jelly doughnuts (sufganiot) is here.

The other link that contains more academic content is on Wikipedia.

On the subject of Channukah, it is supposed to be festive as it reminds us of the uprising by the Jews against a Greco-Syrian tyrant and the miracle that one day's oil lasted eight days. As rituals are best reinforced by foods, the latkes and jelly doughnuts are used as reminders of the eight-day miracle. It is unlikely people would want to burn and pillage their neighbour's house, as this would remind them of what was done to the temple. Hmm.

Menorahs or Channukiahs come in as many shapes as there are spellings of Channukah. I would stay away from the Walt Disney type as they are often poorly made. The giant silver menorahs that use olive oil instead of candles are also over the top. Go for one that is safe and sturdy that lasts for decades, as the emphasis is on enjoying the light, not impressing the neighbours. A sturdy menorah is one that can be lit by big and small hands. Nothing stops the fun quicker than a tipped over menorah and a house fire.

I saw an episode of the cartoon "King of the Hill" where Hank Hill's son Bobby was directed by his Mother to make a wish and blow out his "Menoree-ah candles". OY! Don't do that!

At work I hand out chocolate coins (a.k.a. Channukah gelt). World peace through foil wrapped chocolate!

To clear the air, I like Christmas. I'll say it again. I like Christmas. I like the foods and drinks that come out of hiding once a year challenging my waistline and culinary fortitude. I like the colours that break a bleak and grey snow-free winter. I like the change in people's behaviour and the notion that for one brief moment, we can all be nice to each other and realise that the world is an ugly place and making it less ugly takes effort. Since no-one in the retail sector or the broadcast media calls a menorah "a holiday candelabra", why do people try to hide the fact that it's a Christmas tree that is being installed in stores, hotel lobbies and offices? This is a mystery. If Christmas is your thing, then enjoy. If Channukah is your holiday, enjoy. Choose one and go meshuga!

Remember, each holiday is about different events in biblical history. Blending them together is akin to teaching a fish to ride a bicycle. I know people are uncomfortable about the subject because it's perceived as a hot topic. It's not a hot topic. Jump off the couch and learn what a traditional Channukah looks like and what a traditional Christmas looks like. I have seen a Charlie Brown Christmas at least 30 times and I could not tell the average man on the street what the traditional elements of Christmas are. It's the traditional elements of the holidays that never make it to the TV screen because that takes time away from advertising and the homogenizing effect of popular culture.


Kristine and Shawn said...

Great post!! Happy Channukah to you!!

Connie said...

Enjoyed the post. You make a good point. Seeing the words 'holiday candelabra' makes it glaringly obvious how ludicrous 'holiday tree' sounds and I thought it did pretty well at that all by itself ;0)

Happy Channukah to you and yours.

Anonymous said...

Josh, I enjoyed your writing and your viewpoints here. I agree that we should all enjoy whatever festivities in which we partake.
I'm learning a lot about Channukah!

Anonymous said...

We have our candles light and are celebrating here.

Anonymous said...

You did a great job with the post! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post! Happy Hanukkah to you and yours!

Mrs. Vandertramp said...

I like your style and I enjoyed the info - always more to learn... Happy Channukah.