Christmas, Hanukkah and celebrations of light (or, so, what are we celebrating, Vol. 2, pt. 2)

America’s December traditions, our celebrations of light and commemorations of miracles done for our ancestors and for all mankind, are just fine as they were.  Christmas, Hanukkah and others don’t need to be changed, updated, re-imagined or re-invented.

Michelle Obama made a curious statement about changing our traditions at rally for her husband, in Puerto Rico, during the campaigns for the U. S. Presidency in 2008.  It seems that both political parties and the media have followed her lead, with respect to December.  This year with the anti-Police and anti-Grand Jury rallies planned in major cities across the U.S., it might be enough politicised baggage that Santa would need not just Dasher, Dancer, Prance, Vixen, Comet, Cupit, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph, but their brothers and sisters, too…if that were what he loaded in his sleigh.  Whether it was leaving the publication of tax laws until the end of December 2009, or recurring fights over Continuing Resolutions and Federal spending, the infamous Fiscal Cliff of a few years ago, or talking points about health care and firearms, both Parties have loaded down December with enough partisan baggage to fill Santa’s sleigh and the some.

All kidding aside, we should hold to our traditions this year.  Let’s look up from the burned rubble of Ferguson and forget the “I can’t breathe” protests for a moment.  Yes, black lives matter.  All lives matter.  There’s plenty to celebrate in December. The shining star of Bethlehem points to the Christchild. The Hanukkah menorah reminds us of the miracle of lights and the Maccabees who cleansed the Jewish Temple,preparing the way for the Messiah.  The Buddhists also celebrate in December, commemorating the enlightenment of their great teacher, Siddhartha.

Our holiday traditions used to bring us all together, or at least most of us.  As Americans we would pause near the end of November to acknowledge Divine Providence and humble ourselves to offer thanks for our blessings.  As Western Civilization, we would pause in December, first as the Jews lit the candles of Hanukkah, later to honor the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.  Christians probably looked strangely at the Hanukkah lights, though they ought not have, for Hanukkah is in the New Testament.

Christians would pause, the world over, to celebrate the birth of Yeshua HaMoshiach (Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ) on December 25th. As Linus has explained to Charlie Brown every Christmas since 1965, in the Peanuts Christmas Special, the meaning of Christmas is the birth of Jesus.  Heralded by Angels, who proclaimed, “Peace on Earth and goodwill toward men.”  Adored by shepherds, He laid in a feeding troff, on a bed of hay.  Worshiped later by wise men from the east, He received from them gold, frankincense, myrrh.  Gold is a gift fit for kings.  Frankincense is a gift for a priest who would offer it in the Temple of the Most High.  Myrrh is…foreshadowing.  Myrrh, a spice used for embalming in ancient times, foreshadows His death and ultimately His resurrection.  What we all need today, in America, but in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia, too, is goodwill among men (and women).  So, let’s make sure we take time this year to honor the birth of Yeshua (Jesus).   As we honor Him who came to bring Peace on Earth, we can find some goodwill among me.

Hanukkah is in fact mentioned in the Saint John’s Gospel.  In John 10:22, we see that Yeshua (Jesus) observed Hanukkah (the Fest of Dedication) at the Temple in Jerusalem.  Jews, all over the world celebrate Hanukkah for eight consecutive nights. Jews light increasing numbers of candles on the traditional Hanukkiah (Hanukkah menorah) and spin the dreidle to compete for gelt.  They retell the stories of how the Most High did miracles for their forefathers, the Maccabees, about a century before Christ.  Miracles include the oil in the Temple’s menorah, that should have burned for one day, burning instead for eight, and a small band of Jewish zealots defeating the Syrian Greek army. Hanukkah is a celebration of light, of standing up for deeply held beliefs and of liberty. Hanukkah has more in common with traditional American values and culture than most would give it credit for.

Let’s pause and honor Divine Providence.  Our December traditions don’t need to be re-invented. Let’s meditate on the traditions that unite us, and maybe take a moment to wish others, who may celebrate differently, joy in their own understanding of the Divine.  The protest movements will still be there in January.  Let’s allow some light from the Divine to illuminate our hearts, so we can find goodwill among men; then maybe we won’t need to protest in January.

Thank each of you for taking time out to read this post.  If you’re new to St Thomas Place, why not take another moment and check out some of my other holiday themed posts?  Did this post reminded you of a holiday story from years past? Tell me about that in the comments.

Facts are facts, the opinions are my own and not necessarily those of my employers.

2 thoughts on “Christmas, Hanukkah and celebrations of light (or, so, what are we celebrating, Vol. 2, pt. 2)

  1. Peace on Earth?

    “Aren’t humans amazing? They kill wildlife – birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed.

    Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and then plead for ‘Peace on Earth.'” C. David Coates


    The good news is that anyone can break this cycle of violence. I did and you can too. Each of us has the power to choose compassion. Peace really does begin in the kitchen.

    1. JC, you’ve certainly got an interesting perspective.

      I’m not sure what veganism has to do with Christmas or Hanukkah or even Bodhi Day. At this season we should focus on reaching out to the Divine in service and to our friends and neighbors in love.

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