Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Dark of Sun & Moon

While lacking all the popularity, marketability, pageantry and controversy of winter's Official National Holiday, Chanuka fortunately retains most of its modest charm as a traditional solstice festival....

The Hebrew calendar being guided predominantly by lunar phases, the eight-day Chanuka festival consistently brackets the new moon closest to the winter solstice; or, the darkest part of the northern hemisphere's year. For each of the eight nights of the festival, an additional flame is lit in a nine-branch candelabra called a chanukiah.

In some narratives, the sequential lights commemorate a miraculous day of life to what should have been an insufficient supply of sacramental oil in the old Temple in Jerusalem following the victorious Judean-Hasmonean revolt against Greco-Syrian occupation of ancient Israel. Others may find a hopeful primordial satisfaction from the ritual increment of lights as daylight slowly begins to last longer, and the Hebrew calendar's Tevet moon reveals its first slivers in the nighttime sky.

However anyone chooses to approach it, may we all enjoy the warmth of hope and home at this season of our planet's orbit around its star.

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