Christmas comes this Sunday, and Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights starts one day earlier on the 24th. Regardless of what holiday traditions your family observes here in Helotes, TX, we here at D’Spain hope it’s a happy and joyful one. We normally talk about heating and air conditioning issues on this blog, but this week, we’d like to take a moment and talk about some of the wonderful holiday traditions this year, and where they came from.
Christmas actually began as a pagan holiday, celebrating the winter solstice. Christmas trees – usually fir trees and other evergreens – were a sign of the spring to come, which helped spread hope and good cheer. As Christianity spread across Europe, it adopted the symbol as a sign not only of the season, but of the birth of Christ and the hope he represents. The modern practice of Christmas arose in Germany sometime in the 15th or 16th century.
The Jewish winter holiday goes back to the Second Century BC, when Israel was held by the Seleucids (based in modern-day Syria and Greece). The Hebrews rebelled and drove the Seleucids out. When they reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, they only found enough oil to last one day. Through a miracle, it lasted for eight days, giving them enough time to sanctify new oil for the Temple. That’s why Hanukkah lasts 8 days instead of just one.
Festivus is a bit of fun: a made-up holiday from the TV show Seinfeld intended to address the stress and materialism of the holidays. (It was apparently the family tradition of screenwriter Daniel O’Keefe, who wrote for Seinfeld.) It involves a bare aluminum pole, a simple meal, an “Airing of Grievances” after dinner and a “Feat of Strength,” in which the head of the household challenges another family member to a wrestling match. Since the airing of the Seinfeld episode, Festivus has actually been practiced by secular households. It’s officially held on December 23.
From all of us at D’Spain Sales & Service, Inc., the very happiest of holidays to you and yours!