Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hanukkah 2012

We just finished our 8-day Hanukkah celebration and, boy, did we all have a wonderful time! We did lots of great activities, made cool crafts and did a bunch of things together as a family. For those who don't know, Hanukkah is the celebration of the re-dedication of the Temple after the Maccabean Revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 BCE. The Greeks had completely devastated and desecrated Jerusalem and the Temple along with forcing the Jewish people to stop following Torah and to sacrifice to the Greek gods. The people revolted in 167 BCE and in 2 years, successfully beat back the Greeks and retook the Temple.
Our homemade oil-burning menorah
 That alone is enough to celebrate but one reason behind the 8 days is a legend that goes like this: Once the Temple was cleaned and prepared, they found that there was only enough sacred lamp oil to burn for one day. The process of pressing and refining the oil was 8 days long, so once they lit the lamp, they didn't have enough to keep it lit as they were required to do. Miraculously, the lamp continued to burn for the full 8 days! So we celebrate and thank God for his great miracles from the past and in our lives during this time. We talk about our Messiah who is the true light of the world. We also talk about standing firmly in our beliefs and we pray for those who are persecuted for their beliefs. We are thoroughly blessed in so many ways!

This year, we celebrated with the traditional candle-lighting, but we also had fun activities and treats each day. Rebecca made a cool menorah with numbered "flames" that you pulled out and each one had the day's activities written on them (Thanks for the idea, Lacey! :). One thing we did every day was to read a story we used last year called Jonathan's Story

A beautiful "stained glass" menorah the kids made.
The kids helped me decorate a giant cookie cake. I never claimed to be an expert. :)
In the story, the kids heard about how the Jews hid in caves and ate dried fruit and nuts, so we let them build a "cave" and eat lunch in it.

 One day, we made sugar cookies and let the kids decorate them. They did a wonderful job. :)

Another craft we made were menorahs with their hands.

Olivia and I tried our hands at making a "lace" candle
Olivia also made a new coat of arms for her shield. This year, she put: our family eating together, her and the boys playing, her helping me to work in the yard and worshiping God.

 On the 7th day, we gave them some gifts. The boys got some new wooden trucks and Olivia got a whole mess of Groovy Girl doll clothes and accessories. 

On the last night, we lit beeswax candles that the kids rolled themselves.
 Besides these things, we took the kids out to get donuts, made latkes, went downtown to see the lighting of the big menorah, went out to eat (which is rare treat for our family), and drove just about each day through the always impressive display of  lights on Ridgeway Drive in Greensboro. We all had such a wonderful time and can't wait for next year!

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