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Comment by Ron Powell on December 10, 2018 at 2:35am

There seems to be a parallel re the observances of Kwanzaa and Chanukah.

Kwanzaa (/ˈkwɑːn.zə/) is a celebration held in the United States and in other nations of the African diaspora in the Americas and lasts a week. The celebration honors African heritage in African-American culture and is observed from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving.[1] Kwanzaa has seven core principles (Nguzo Saba). It was created by Maulana Karenga and was first celebrated in 1966–67.


Kwanzaa Candles-Kinara.svg
Seven candles in a kinara symbolize the seven principles of Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa has seven core principles, or Nguzo Saba:
  • Umoja: Unity. To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  • Kujichagulia: Self-Determination: ...
  • Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility. ...
  • Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics. ...
  • Nia: Purpose. ...
  • Kuumba: Creativity. ...
  • Imani: Faith
Is there any meaning attributed to lighting the 8 lights of the Chanukah menorah beyond marking the days during which the holiday is celebrated?
Comment by Rodney Roe on December 10, 2018 at 6:55am

In Christian tradition the Twelve Days of Christmas consisted of the period between the birth of Jesus, Dec. 25, and the visit of the Magi, January 6 or Epiphany.  The song with the same name dates from the late 18th century as a chant with music added in 1909 as an arrangement of an English folk tune.  While we think of the song as very English, it is thought to have its origins in France.  There was a tradition of gift giving on the 12 days, but not in the cumulative way imagined in the song.  (Imagine ordering Milking Maids or Leaping Lords from Macy's)

According to an article in Wikipedia.the song was an invention of Catholics in hiding during the reign of Elizabeth as a means of teaching children.  Each of the presents represented some essential of Catholic belief.  For example, the Partridge in the Pear Tree was Christ on the Cross, and Three French Hens represented the traits of Faith, Hope and Charity.

Thanks, kosh, for this reminder of Chanukah.

Annually, my right wing Christian sister-in-law posts a rant about the "War on Christmas", and my wife reminds her that "Happy Holidays" merely acknowledges all of the celebrations.  Sister-in-law wants us to say Merry Christmas (because Christianity trumps all other faith traditions.)  I can only guess that her preacher stirs this up each year.

Ron, she is also a racist and I don't want to imagine the vitriol that would come out if I mentioned Kwanza.

Comment by koshersalaami on December 10, 2018 at 7:19am

Yes, Ron, there’s a parallel, because Karenga was aware of Chanukah. The lights only symbolize the days. When they were deciding how everyone should celebrate it, there was a debate between the two sages of the day, Hillel and Shammai. Shammai said we should start with eight lights and diminish to represent the supply of oil. Hillel didn’t like the pessimistic look of that - after all, the miracle was growing - and said we should increase every night. Hillel usually won these arguments. 

Thanks for the explanation of the song. (That doesn’t explain the Hawaiian version. Just kidding.) Yeah, I’ve heard this War On Christmas crap. If your sister thinks Christmas is in danger, tell her to walk into any shopping mall in the country. I’m certainly not offended when someone wishes me a Merry Christmas; after all, if you address an American at random, there’s only a one in fifty chance he/she celebrates Chanukah, and it’s clearly nicely meant. However, I appreciate Happy Holidays just because of the inclusion of those of us who aren’t Christian. Of course, that’s the fundamental idea behind all PC: inclusion; it just doesn’t always manifest that way. 

Comment by Steel Breeze on December 10, 2018 at 7:22am

enjoy the Holiday(no further comment).....

Comment by Tom Cordle on December 10, 2018 at 8:31am

Well, it's not exactly the Eternal Light, but this from ABC News may give us hope:

"Livermore, California, is home to what residents say is the world's longest-burning light bulb. Made by the Shelby Electric Co. of Ohio, it's been shining bright, without a flicker, at the town's firehouse since 1901. ... Thomas Edison, the inventor of the incandescent light bulb, would be proud."

Cynic that I am, I suspect this may be some sort of Chamber of Commerce ploy.

As for the supposed plot to take the Christ out of Christmas, my Kristian friends need reminding that Christ was not his last name nor was Jesus his first; no, his first name is most closely translated as Joshua. 

"The name Jesus is derived from the Latin Iesus, a transliteration of the Greek Ἰησοῦς (Iesous). The Greek form is a rendering of the Hebrew ישוע‎ (Yeshua), a variant of the earlier name יהושע‎ (Yehoshua), or in English, "Joshua". The name Yeshua appears to have been in use in Judea at the time of the birth of Jesus." Wikipedia

But far more important than his name is the fact that Yesuha/Joshua/Jesus was not a Christian, he was a Jew.

Or if one chooses to be cynical, one might subscribe to the observation of George Bernard Shaw that "Jesus was not only the first Christian; he was the last."

Comment by koshersalaami on December 10, 2018 at 8:51am

I think some of the early bulbs were just built really well. 

By the way, Chanukah is actually a minor holiday. The major Jewish holidays were mostly pilgrimage festivals. Chanukah became major in America because of Christmas; in fact, Chanukah was not our original gift giving holiday, but that changed in reaction to Christmas. This was less of an issue in Europe because the Jewish population was more insular and less integrated than here. 

Comment by Boanerges on December 11, 2018 at 8:09am

Mazel tov, old friend.

Comment by koshersalaami on December 11, 2018 at 10:39am

Thank you

Comment by Theodora L'Engle Knight on December 20, 2018 at 6:09pm

mazel tov, too, kosh. i didn't light the candles this year. i feel bad about that. i don't consider it a major holiday. too lazy to google but is passover our most major holiday? it is to me. is yom kippur the one?

Comment by koshersalaami on December 20, 2018 at 8:20pm


You’re right about Chanukah. It is not a major holiday.

The technical answer to that question is actually Shabbat, but to address the question as placed:

The technical answer would probably be a combination of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. However, my own vote is Passover. I think we learn the most important lessons on Passover and we teach those lessons personally rather than relying on rabbis. I could give you a longer explanation as to why I think so. 


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