For those celebrating Chanukah ~Chanukah is mostly associated with Menorah lighting and dreidels. But there is much more to this holiday of lights..
Chanukah falls every year on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev.
The 'Festival of Dedication' also called 'The Festival of Lights' commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrians in 165 B.C.E. (Before the Common Era). It also honors the memory of the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The temple had been defiled by the Syrians who, among other things, erected a statue of Zeus in . Each night of the festival an additional candle is lit until on the last night, eight candles are burning. According to tradition, when the Temple was re-captured, only one small vessel of consecrated oil -- enough for just one day -- was found. Miraculously, it sufficed for eight days until new oil could be prepared and the festival was established for this length of time to commemorate the miracle.
Chanukah is a joyous holiday, celebrated every year by Jews around the world with the lighting of candles, traditional Chanukah treats such as potato latkes and donuts, games such as Draidel, and Chanukah Gelt (Chanukah money or gifts) for children.
For our Muslim Families -
Muslim Holidays and Festivals
Muslims have a rich history of celebrating their important holidays. I have outlined here the ones celebrated by both the Sunni and Shia Muslims and then listed the additional holidays celebrated by the Shias who include the important dates during the course of the hereditary succession from Prophet Muhammad (sas) who appointed Hazrat Ali (as) as the successor to his important mission on earth. These events are celebrated in families and become community affairs where special prayers are offered for being blessed with the joyous occasions. There is a lot of merrimaking and rejoicing including application of henna, decorating houses and streets with lights and decorations, cooking special dinners and sweets which are distributed to everyone present. Everyone wears new clothes and children receive money and gifts. The celebrations include oral renditions of the Quran and beautiful poetry is recited in the praise of Allah, Prophet Muhammad and Hazrat Ali. Since Muslims make up a rich tapestry of many nations and languages, these are recited in the local language besides the traditional Arabic for Quranic recitations. For example, in the Arabic speaking countries, there are Madohs and Qasidas (poetry) accompanied by traditional musical instruments. In India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, Hindi and Urdu poetry in the praise of Allah, called Hamd, poetry in the praise of Prophet Muhammad, called Naat, and in the praise of Hazrat Ali, called Qawaali, is especially enjoyed by the believers. In the times of Fatimid Imams, there used to be great processions led by the Imam in full regalia with accompanying bands, with streets illumined for the occasion, especially on Milad un Nabi, Yaum-e Ali, the two Eids, birthdays of the Imams, Eid-e Gadhir and Navroz celebrations. Then, in countries under Persian influence, like Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, etc. Qasidas with communal dancing abound. After all, poets like Rumi, Hafez, and Nasir Khusraw flowered from these nations. In the linked pages that follow this article, I have outlined the uniqueness of each celebration, its material and spiritual significance and how it is celebrated in various Muslim communities throughout the world. As we are fasting during the month of Ramadan, we rise from the physical to the spiritual, when abstaining from food and water during the daylight hours, spending the month in charitable works and spreading goodwill, our actions and thoughts are turned towards the One On-High and we continue to perform works that would please Him year round. Not only during Ramadan, but all Muslim holidays and celebrations are meant not only for rejoicing and feasting but for the higher goals and the real purpose of life, for which every Muslim strives in earnest. To quote Mowlana Hazar Imam at his recent visit in Syria: "The Shahada, La illaha illah Muhammadur Rasulilah - binds a thousand million people who over the centuries, have come to live in different cultures, speak different languages, live in different political contexts, and who differentiate in some interpretations of their faith. Within the Ummah, the Ismaili jamat reflects much of the same pluralism. The plurality of the Muslim world is not just an irreversible historical fact, but it is a strength for which we must be grateful, and a strength that must be continuously harnessed to the building of the future within the ethics of Islam. Any differences must be resolved through tolerance, through understanding, through compassion, through dialogue, through forgiveness, through generosity, all of which represent the ethics of Islam. "Islam enjoins upon us and on every individual the maintaining of a balance between spiritual life and material well being, and to ensure that his or her material endeavors are underpinned by the ethical principles of Islam. This balance between din and dunya* entails not only the fulfillment of the individual's spiritual obligation but also of the obligation to acquire knowledge and to use it for the benefit of others." * Din means Religion, Dunya means World - another way to say it is spiritual and secular.
For our Christian Families~ Christmas is celebrated and remembered as the Birth of Christ. On December 25th many will head out to church and give praise to Christ Jesus. It is a time of giving and sharing. Santa is also a big hit during Christmas.
Christmas trees are decorated with lights tinsel and presents are left for the children by Santa Clause, or St. Nick.
Whatever holiday you celebrate; enjoy and remember we are all part of this great big world. Love is the key, respect one another, may you all share in the gift of Love.