Sunday, December 25, 2016

Chanukah & Christmas

By 39james - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

What is Chanukah? (aka Hanukkah, Hanukah)

Hanukkah is a Jewish festival celebrating a miracle that happened centuries ago. It is often referred to as the Festival of Lights. Hanukkah lasts 8 days, and where it falls on the Gregorian calendar varies. 

How do you celebrate Samhain?

While each family and region will have it's own specific traditions, here are some common ones:
  • Lighting the menorah, one candle (or oil based light) each night
  • Chanukah themed music (yes there's more than Adam Sandler's Chanukah Song!)
  • Potato latkes are probably the most well-known Chanukah food
  • Sufganiyot, which are a deep-fried often jelly filled donut are also consumed
  • Playing with a dreidel or four-sided top (there's even a song about it!), you can learn more about the game here

What is Christmas? (or Christ's Mass)


  • The birth of Christ
  • Festival celebrating that miracle
  • End of Advent or the Nativity Fast
  • Special mass

  • Santa has already come and brought presents for all the good girls and boys and coal for the bad (or switches depending on where you live)
  • Famlies gather to open presents
  • Lots of food and cookies

How do you celebrate Christmas?

  • Go to mass
  • Retelling the story of Christ's birth
  • Nativity play
  • Religious carols
  • Gather with loved ones
  • Exchange gifts
  • Look for signs Santa has visited
  • Eat!

A nativity I painted years ago

What do I do for Christmas?

  • Before I was married, Christmas Eve was always spent at a mini family reunion, where a bunch of us would pack into a house, the 'adults' or anyone over 30 upstairs, and the kids, anyone under 30, in the finished basement. We'd eat and drink until you'd think you would never need or want to do either again. Then Christmas was just my grandma's kids and their kids, and eventually it would have been their kids too...(believe it or not that was less than a quarter of the Christmas Eve crowd!) Followed after presents and another huge meal by family pictures.
  • Now that I'm married we spend Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with my husband's family. I admit at first it was culture shock. They have a lazy morning, with homemade donuts and breakfast sweets followed by everyone opening presents, and just relaxing. It's smaller, quieter, and much more laid back. No mandatory pictures. No eat until you think you might actually burst. No house filled to the brim with loud, boisterous family. I'm still trying to get used to the change!