Dec 23 2008
Or celebrate your family’s traditional holiday. It’s all good. Merry Christmas, my Christian friends. And for my unsentimental atheist pals, have a, um, nice break from the work week. Meanwhile, I’m off to a party this evening to celebrate the Festival of Lights with family, complete with dreidels, latkes and presents all around. Eight crazy nights, indeed.
Ever wonder what the heck Chanukah’s all about? This video provides no real clues, but it’s funny.
If you still want to know what the festival of lights is all about, there’s always Wikipedia. Or there’s my version, which may or may not be entirely accurate:
The Maccabees, a ragtag leadership of some hard-boiled Jewish insurgents bled Antiochus IV’s forces after the decidedly non-multicultural king decided to sacrifice a pig on the altar in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, around 175 BCE (Somewhere in Tehran right about now, Mahmoud Ahdaminejad is scratching his head trying to figure out what Jews were doing in the land of Israel before 1945.). The revolt was successful, Antiochus’ supporters melted away and the Jews found themselves in possession of the Temple (to be clear, not just any temple. This is THE Temple). But sadly, the bad guys had desecrated the place before they skipped town.
The Maccabees and their followers wanted to get that temple back in shape ASAP, since after all, it was a temple to G-d, not just any lightning-bolt chucking Hellenistic deity. Part of the process of rededicating the temple was burning some consecrated olive oil, but they only had enough of the stuff to last a day. This was less than ideal. Miraculously, the oil lasted a full eight days, which was enough to “cleanse the temple”. Ever after, Jews celebrated the holiday by stuffing their faces with very fattening oil-cooked foods like potato pancakes.
Don’t ask me how gambling with spinning blocks of wood figures into it. If anyone knows, please leave a comment.