Saturday, December 12, 2009

Celebrating Hanumas: Religion and the Holidays

In our home we celebrate Hanumas, our own mishmash of Hanukkah and Christmas. We light the menorah candles and say the prayers (if mispronouncing and mumbling a phonetic translation counts as saying the prayers), but we also buy and decorate a Christmas tree, hang stockings by the fireplace, and open presents on Christmas morning. This contradiction is simple to explain. We are Jewish and therefore want to honor our history and traditions, but Christmas is more fun (besides, we figure Jesus was Jewish). However, we want our children to understand what these holidays represent and that it’s not just about presents (it’s not?), so recently I sat down with Zoe and tried to explain Christmas and Hanukkah to her. If you are new to this blog, Zoe is two and a half (which is why my descriptions sound like I am talking to a two year old).

Me explaining Hanukkah: A long time ago the Syrians and the Maccabees had a big fight. At the end of the fight a large celebration was planned. For the celebration, the Maccabees (the Jews) wanted to light the menorah. They looked everywhere for oil, and found only enough to light the menorah for one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days. This gave them enough time to go to the store and buy more oil. Today Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days by lighting candles in a menorah every night.
Zoe: Daddy, did you hear me fart?

Me explaining Christmas (the blasphemous version): A long time ago a man named Joseph and a woman named Mary were traveling at night and hadn’t booked a room ahead, so they had to sleep in a barn. The woman had a baby that night, even though Joseph hadn’t even kissed her. But the baby was very special and people showed up with cool presents so Joseph said what the heck. Christmas is the holiday that celebrates that little baby’s birthday.
Zoe: Daddy, I have a question.
Me: What’s your question?
Zoe: La la la la la!

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