Chanuka, Chanukah, Chanukkah, Hanukah, Hannukah and my personal favorite, Cha-noo-kah. The list goes on and on but I only have so much time here. As you can see, there is not as much care put into the spelling of this holiday because, contrary to popular belief, this holiday is not nearly as important as a multitude of others. For Chanukah, we usually spell it whatever way is the simplest to get the point across. While Chanukah is great and all, it just doesn't hold a light (see what I did there?) to some other holidays. A brief explanation might be needed. See, Chanukah, put simplistically, is about how we won a war and wanted to have light but only had enough oil for one night. Making oil takes eight days. Miracle happens and oil lasts eight days. Hence, Chanukah is celebrated for eight days. And as you can see, when it comes down to it, this is a holiday to celebrate that we made some oil. In light of that (see what I did again?), I'd like to point out five holidays I find to have greater significance.
But first, a small disclaimer.
The following is entirely my opinion and does not reflect the opinions of the wonderful population of Jews as a whole. This is also not meant to be a criticism against Chanukah but simply an enlightening of some of the more significant holidays to me. If you really want to know the most significant part of Chanukah to me, go read Hershel and The Hanukkah Goblins.
5. Purim AKA Jewish Halloween
Significance: Haman, royal vizier to King Ahasuerus, planned to kill all the Jews but his plans were foiled by Mordecai and his daughter Queen Esther. Hence, we dress up or masquerade as some say.
Why it's important to me: This holiday ends up being just a whole lot of fun. We often have Halloween-like parties. There's a lot of fun getting mad at the bad guy, Haman, of the story. When we tell it, it's always fun to yell, hiss and make obnoxious sounds with gregors (noise makers, look it up) every time his name is mentioned. When it comes down to it, I simply enjoy the opportunity to dress up as a sexy Mordecai.
4. Rosh Hashanah AKA The Jewish New Year
Significance: Read the thing after number four. But also this is High Holiday #1.
Why it is important to me: Read the thing after number 4. But also this is High Holiday #1. Yeah, it's kinds a big deal like that hence the repetition. This is a time of the year when many Jews will go to temple. In fact, it gets so popular that you need tickets and baby, sometimes they ain't cheap. Best part was I got to take off of school and as an adult, work. We eat apples and honey to ring it in sweetly and oh, is it sweet. However we really don't have any sort of countdown. And we don't make resolutions. Now that I think about it, come this Rosh Hashanah, I'll be the one the back counting down loudly while lying to everyone that this year I'll exercise more and I'll stop drinking my calories.
3: Passover AKA Over a week of what is essentially the Atkins diet
Significance: The Jews were being held as slaves in Egypt by a bad Pharaoh, and then Moses….you know what, go watch the Ten Commandments. Or better yet, the Rugrats Passover Special.
Why it's important to me: I wanted to start this part by apologizing that I had to pass over writing about this in April. Heh heh. But honestly, Passover is wonderful. It's a time I see all of my family and we get tell the story of Passover during our Seders, the most essential part of said holiday. Well that and we drink four cups of wine. But while in college, I got to take off of school if it fell in the middle of the week. What's best about this holiday is how it's sort of our Easter equivalent. We hide the Afikoman, (a piece of matzo that is known as dessert, and how it is considered dessert, I will never know) and then the kids get to find it and the winner gets a little something something. Usually that little something something is a dollar. But still, a dollar! But basically it's a holiday about our freedom and the creation of the 10 Commandments. And yes, I am talking about the movie because it may be the only movie that is actually better than the book. I love me some Yul Brynner. But the most important part of the holiday to me is the treat known as Joyva Ring Jells. Some of you may know this but it is a delightful, scrumptious treat comprised of a ring of raspberry jelly dipped in chocolate. I would die for this treat.
2. Yom Kippur AKA The Day of Atonement
Significance: We fast for 24 hours to cleanse ourselves of sin. This is High Holiday #2.
What it means to me: This is honestly the Jewish holiday that means the most to me. I am not the most religious of individuals, but I thoroughly embrace my Judaism and will never know anything but what it means to be a Jew. This is truly the day I am most likely to go to temple. I will, without question, not eat for 24 hours. What's interesting is that I might not entirely believe that my sins for the previous year have been erased but it's more that I can leave my previous year's faults behind and look forward to being a better person. This holiday takes place just over a week after Rosh Hashanah, and earlier I put in jest that we don't really make a new year's resolution. Writing this now, I realize that resolution just happens to be Yom Kippur and making it through another year in the Book of Life.
1. Christmas AKA X-Mas
Significance: A free day for Jews
What it means to me: This day is incredible. My Moses, the free time it gives me. For no reason at all, I get this day off EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Why? Because I am Jewish. And what's great is all my Jewish friends want to spend the day the same exact way.
"You wanna see a movie!?"
"Yeah! And then you wanna get some Chinese food!?"
"You get out of my head this instant!"
Then, when it came to school, we got a whole two week break for what was commonly known as Christmas vacation. Chanukah is eight days, no break. Christmas is one day, I get two weeks. To repeat myself, it's incredible. I'm out all day and there's no traffic. None. Whether it's by plane, train or automobile, the world is free for the taking. But what may truly be best part about this holiday is that somehow, someway, I am always in the mood to watch A Christmas Story on television 12 times in a row.