Students at NHP express the importance of shining light on Hanukkah during the holiday season.
By Rebecca McCorey
Many people are excited about the various festive activities and trends that come with the holiday season. Specifically, many look forward to popular holidays such as Christmas and traditions like decorating a tree or exchanging gifts. For some, the holidays are a chance to reconnect with family and friends that they might not often talk to.
“I like the time off and I would say getting to see my family. I also really love the food and vibes that come with the holidays,” senior Gabriella Bonetti said.
However, during this time, there is a holiday that is seen as more forgotten than remembered called Hanukkah. Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Greek-Syrian army in the second century BCE.
According to the story, after the Maccabees defeated the Greeks, they went to rededicate the Temple in Jerusalem, which had originally been defiled by the Greek army. They searched for pure oil to light the menorah, but could only find enough to last for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, giving the Maccabees enough time to prepare more pure oil. As a result, during the celebration of Hanukkah, a candle is lit each night on a special candelabra called a menorah. Additionally, traditional foods such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) are eaten. Today, Hanukkah remains a time for family gatherings, gift-giving and the performance of special prayers and songs.
However, since the creation of Hanukkah, it has been less well-known than other stories and celebrations. This is partially due to it being one of the only stories not told in the Old Testament, simply because it happened after the Torah (a holy book in Judaism) was written. Today, many are not aware of what Hanukkah is and why it is celebrated. As a result, some feel that people should increase their awareness about holidays such as Hanukkah.
Artwork by Ann Aphraim
“I think all major religious and cultural holidays deserve to be known about by all, but I also think that they are based in the Catholic/Christian/Puritan religions. And that in this heavily diverse America, most other major religious holidays should be held to the same familiarity,” junior Sarah Munson said.
“We live in a commercial world. I do not like how everything has become so pricey, but I do enjoy how everyone learns about each other's holidays. Sometimes when we 'commercialize' something we see how positively people react to it and how people want to learn about it,” English teacher Ms. Katz said.
Overall, while the holidays can be a time for many positive things, it is important to acknowledge and educate oneself about other lesser-known holidays and cultural traditions.