Washington, DC – Holiday Celebrations3B

Happy Holidays! May this be a peaceful, blessed Holy Time, celebrated in your own way, and may this also become the time when all Life is respected and cherished!

This post continues an explanation of the universal importance of Hanukkah and the symbolism of its celebration.

If you are in Washington, DC at the moment, you can see the National Menorah, located on the Presidential Ellipse at The White House, ready to have an additional candle lit, each night between December 1 – 9 this year (the days vary secularly from year to year but on the Hebrew lunar calendar, it is always 25 Kislev).

The Hebrew’s successful Maccabean Revolt in 2nd Century BCE, became Humanity’s first war for religious freedom. It was also the first guerilla war where a vastly out-numbered and only lightly-armed people (Jews) defeated the ‘world’-dominating army (Greeks – in this case, the Seleucid Greek branch of Syrian generals).

In this sense, this special time belongs to all people, everywhere, always, because the Cause was for religious tolerance, for the very first time in human history.

The simple-yet-powerful festival is observed by the kindling of the lights on a special candlabrum called the “Hanukiah”, or “Hanukkah Menorah”.

One extra candle or oil lamp’s wick is lit on each night of the 8-day holiday, refilling the candles or oil lamps each 24 hours. The progression is to all eight lights symbolically piercing ignorance and intolerance on the final night.

Each night, the candles are placed and lit from right to left, in succession, by a profane, “helper” light, called the “shamash” or servant candle. You can locate the shamash candle either higher, lower or slightly set apart from the other 8 candles on the hanukkiah.

There is a prohibition against using the Hanukkah lights for anything other than proclaiming and meditating on the Hanukkah history. The 8 candles’ light is sanctified and holy. So, the Shamash’s light is the one that is “used” if any daily activity happens near the candles.

Many families, in the modern day, have begun a tradition to remember other times when the Jewish people have been rescued from great catastrophe, and they assign the memory and gratitude for that to each candle, as they are lit. Each family chooses their own mix of societal and familial experiences to be grateful for.

As you may know, this menorah is different from the 7-branched giant menorahs which were stolen by the Roman Emperor, Trajan, and then sent to Rome from the Temple in Jerusalem. Those are “lost” to the Ages, now.

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©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

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