Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Hahner...Chuhnoo...Harmonic...Festival of Lights

Starts before Christmas.  Ends after Christmas.
Up yours, Santa.
    Sunset this evening marks the beginning of Hanukkah (I finally had to look up the spelling), better known as the Festival of Lights or, according to that cinematic wunderkind, Adam Sandler, Eight Crazy Nights.

  Much like Easter, the exact timing of Hanukkah is probably a mystery to a lot of people.  Also like Easter, it has to do with Jewish folks (yes, Jesus was a Jew.  He wasn't born in a Catholic manger, cranky fundamentalists notwithstanding).  This, of course, means that the average Joe (or Sol) must consult with his rabbi, ancient Talmudic guidance, a Magic 8 ball, the entrails of an owl, and the calendar he got from his heating oil supplier last January to figure out when exactly he's supposed to dust off the family menorah  (and Aunt Sadie).

"Could be worse.
Could be Lindsay."
  Needless to say, it's sometime in December.  Sometimes before, but rarely after, Hanukkah this year straddles Christmas like Snooki and that guy who sells kettle corn on the boardwalk.  So, the hoopla starts tonight and concludes next week after that sweater from Cousin Tilly has been exchanged for an iTunes gift card.


  Growing up Catholic as I did, I don't know an awful lot about Hanukkah (I know a helluva lot about rulers on the knuckles, though).  What I do know I picked up on street corners (I think I hung out on the wrong street corners).  


  But, I'll give it a shot...


I'll bet this isn't historically accurate
  A long time ago (I think it was the second century before Christ.  Well, before Facebook, anyway) in a place called Judea (which became Palestine which became Israel which became the world's punching bag), a group of people called the Maccabees were seriously hacked off about something.  I think they were ticked off at their oppressors who were some kind of Greeks.  But, I suppose it could have been anybody.  After all, that part of the world has been conquered by pretty much anyone with a chip on their shoulder:  Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Canadian Geese, Chaldeans, Greeks, Macedonians, Romans, Persians, Parthians, Arabs, Crusaders, Crusader Rabbit, Arabs II, Godfather III, Normans, Freds, the French (no kidding), Martians, Up With People!, Ottoman Turks, the Salvation Army, the cast of La Cage Aux Folles,  lost Vikings, tourists from Iowa looking for a "nice, clean rest room," Germans (I'm not sure, but it's a good bet), the Amish, Mormons, Arabs III, the night shift at the Peoria 5 Guys, Sylvester Stallone, and Batman.


I have a strong suspicion
these dudes are Christians.
I don't give a flying crap what Google says.
  One of their leaders, Judah (or Herschel) led a revolt.  The revolting people (ooh, bad choice of words) held out as long as they could against the bad guys (can't tell the players without the above list).  Supplies were getting pretty low; they were running perilously low on food, water, chocolate coins, and potato pancakes.  But, for some reason, starving to death wasn't as important as keeping their lamps lit in the temple.  In fact, they only had enough oil for one night (made worse by the fact that Thomas Edison  wouldn't be born for another 1,900 years.  Yeah, bummer.  Coulda used a light bulb.).
"What's that?  Stubbed your toe in the dark?
Yeah, cry me a river and
give me a shout in the 19th century."


  But, the Lord (all sources are pretty clear on this) provided enough oil for eight days of light (for those of you who didn't pay attention, this is where we get Festival of Lights and Eight Crazy Nights).  Not for nothin', he should have provided enough lunchmeat and bread for the revoltees to make a sandwich.  And machine guns.  We never really covered that in Sister Caligula's World History class, though.


  So, the Greeks, figuring they were beaten, decided to relent (Interesting Vocab Tidbit:  "Relent" could also mean a "Lent" do-over).  This being the case, the Judeans won their freedom.


  And even had enough light to see the invading Roman legions.


  But, that's another story.


  DISCLAIMER:  The preceding is what I can remember of the Hanukkah story.  I really could have consulted a reputable source like the online Encyclopedia Britannica or Wikipedia (because they're never wrong) to make sure I got all my facts correct.  In that case, you'd think I was a genius.  In this case, you may think I'm an idiot.  Heyyy.......... 
  For what I got completely wrong, I apologize.  I meant no disrespect.  OK, maybe a little disrespect.  But, you know me.  I even know a few Pope jokes.


  In any event, for my Jewish friends (or even those who like getting presents for eight straight nights), have a blessed and 
Happy Hanukkah!

I checked. You can spell 'dreidel' this way.
This is what they played before Call of Duty.
P.S.  Just make sure to keep enough oil in your furnace.  Let's give God a break.  He's had a rough couple of millenia. 
  

22 comments:

  1. hahaha Martians, Batman and Canadian Geese. There is a trio I never thought I'd see in the same sentence..haha

    What? There was something before COD? Geez, when was that? Must have been back when you were getting slapped with rulers...haha

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  2. Kish mir en toches. Eff the lights, I want my latkes. This was nice what you did here. The humour is great but the respect for Jewish people comes through. Right nice of you to do this post.

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  3. You're such a mensch to post this, Al. I agree with Anne. I'll have mine up later this eve. Thinking of nabbing that Snooki picture but I'm considering Anthony Wiener instead (what a disgrace to my peeps he is).
    Greasy, yummy food to you!
    xoRobyn

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  4. Poor, poor Snooki, she always gets quite the burial in your posts doesn't she Al? Lmao! Excellent stuff as usual buddy, have a happy Ha- Festival of Lights too!

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  5. Was he really called 'Judah' as in 'Judah ben Hur'?
    If I'd been a Greek general, I would have called him 'Judith' to annoy him. Old trick that Joe Frazier used on Ali.

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  6. After all, that part of the world has been conquered by pretty much anyone with a chip on their shoulder: Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Canadian Geese, Chaldeans, Greeks, Macedonians, Romans, Persians, Parthians, Arabs, Crusaders, Crusader Rabbit, Arabs II, Godfather III, Normans, Freds, the French (no kidding), Martians, Up With People!, Ottoman Turks, the Salvation Army, the cast of La Cage Aux Folles, lost Vikings, tourists from Iowa looking for a "nice, clean rest room," Germans (I'm not sure, but it's a good bet), the Amish, Mormons, Arabs III, the night shift at the Peoria 5 Guys, Sylvester Stallone, and Batman
    Nice try Al but your list is missing a few conquerors

    Starting with William, after all 1067 was a lean year, what with all the lawyers picking over the estates of the Saxons so he had to have something to do....

    Us British, yet another accidental conquering, we were out for a walk and accidently dropped our flag, thus extending the empire that never set - technically it is “The empire where the sun never set” but I prefer to think of it as concrete that kept oozing over the earth’s surface....I’m convinced if it hadn’t been for the great concrete strike of 1908 we would still be in charge of most of the planet and through our renowned incompetence would have saved the planet from global warming. Don’t believe me then let me explain. Since we managed to destroyed our own manufacturing industry we could have done the same for the rest of the worlds (or at least the 80% we would have accidently taken over) – no industry – no carbon foot print, no global warming ....

    Alexander the Late (Alexander the Greats unknown third cousin). A gifted but time challenged individual who could have made it big if only his alarm clock had been more reliable

    Attila the nun - If only she didn’t have such a bad habit (60 a day capstan full strength, which severely affected her health) and her clothes which hardly did her any favours – and explains her nickname “Two Bad Habits’” or TBH to her close friends....or at least the ones that didn’t die from the after effects of secondary smoking ....

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  7. Thanks for shedding light on the subject of the Festival of lights.

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  8. Well, who wants a nasty, dirty restroom?
    Thanks for the lesson.

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  9. Crazy Canadian Geese! They conquered my land for a while! But I fought them off!
    All I know about hanaku (to lazy to check how you spelt it) I learnt from Adam Sandlers Haunika song!

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  10. Great post man. I love your writing style.

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  11. This was a great history lesson, I often wondered if there was an alternate spelling for dreidle.

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  12. @Pat: Yeah, those Canadian Geese are everywhere. They were all pretty mouthy, making fun of turkeys, at Thanksgiving. Then, there was an ad for how to prepare a Christmas Goose. They shut up pretty quick then.
    @Anne: I think I know what that means. Kish=kiss?, Mir=My?, Toches=well, I pronounce it 'tuckus.' But, latkes are fantastic!
    @Robyn: Don't feel too badly. Our side has Mel Gibson.
    @Yeamie: Lindsay, Mel, the Weiner Man, Octo-Mom, Elton, Charlie, and the ever-horrifying Chaz. I try to share the wealth.
    @Gorilla: I checked. He really WAS called 'Judah.' In fact, I read the whole story; it's really very interesting and a lot more complicated than just Maccabees vs Greeks. Strangely, no mention of Snooki, either.
    @BL: Believe it or not, I HAD the British listed (mostly as a result of World War I, aka World War II's Prequel). I have no idea why I deleted them. They're as safe a bet as the Germans when it comes to listing conquerors. Only nicer and with umbrellas.
    @Eva: I mentioned that Hanukkah started at sunset after I showed up at work. Hardly anyone knew that which I thought was sad.
    @Barb: A present is a present. Plus....latkes.
    @Ruth: Nobody, of course! I was thinking of you when I wrote that (not in a rest room sense-you know what I mean).
    @Bersercules: You should see them all down here when a hockey game breaks out.
    @Vanderbilt: Thanks! The December holidays provide ample inspiration.
    @anthony: I looked 'draydel' up because I really thought they misspelled it. Wouldn't you know, I found one site that lists it spelled that way. Who knew?

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  13. Latkes, Al, LATKES....not potato cakes! OY VEY!

    We thank BlackLOG for his amendment to your history lesson.

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  14. Canadian geese are not very Canadian at all if you ask me.
    P.S. I bet even the Pope would approve this. Maybe.

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  15. Happy whatever-holiday-you-happen-to-celebrate, Al. I'm still puzzling over why it's offensive to call it Christmas these days, in (what's supposed to be) a largely Christian country.

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  16. @ryoko: Whatever they're called, I like mine with ketchup.
    @dbs: I'm not sure. NOTE: Unfair stereotype ahead.......They wear wool hats and walk around the park, saying, "HONK, HONK, eh?
    @Botanist: I like whichever holiday lets me eat. Please see: my comment to ryoko. In other words, on Sunday, I'm eating turkey and chocolate footballs. I really don't get that about Christmas, either. I think that's where "Xmas" comes from.

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  17. After looking it up, that is a historically accurate picture of the Maccabees. They've just aged well.

    Also, I knew Thomas Edison was a dick. Fuckin guy should have known he needed to be born earlier!

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  18. @Hospitable: Yeah, that present for eight straight days thing...what a sweet gig.
    @Kid: That's what Marconi said. He was always pissed that Edison got all the credit.

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  19. Brilliant, Al. I bet Mrs. Penwasser has her hands full with you. French ticklers, indeed.

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