Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, December 23, 2016

History, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Pelham

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays, dear Pelham!  This year, due to the shifting holidays of the Jewish lunar calendar, Hanukkah is a late December holiday that begins at sunset tomorrow -- Christmas Eve based on the Gregorian calendar.  Thus, in an event that happens only once every thirty-eight years, the first night of the Jewish Festival of Lights will begin on Christmas Eve and the first day of Hanukkah will coincide with Christmas Day.

Pelhamites celebrated an analogous circumstance in 1910 when the first night of Hanukkah began at sundown on December 25, Christmas night based on the Gregorian calendar.  The newly-established local newspaper at the time, The Pelham Sun, published an article about the event in its weekly edition at the time.  The article read:

Feast of Hanukkah Starts on Christmas and Will Last Eight Days.

Starting on the 25th of Kislev and lasting eight days, is held one of the Jewish festivals of rejoicing, Hanukkah.  This year it is an interesting coincidence that Hanukkah falls on the 25th of December, so that the Jewish festival occurs on the same day as the great Christian holiday, Christmas.

The celebration of Hanukkah is chiefly a festival of light, instituted among the congregations of Israel in the year 165 B. C.  Its observance is universal among the Jews, and it will be celebrated in Providence this year as usual.

The festival of Hanukkah is connected with an important chapter in the history of the Jewish religion, and [memorializes] the dedication of the altar of the temple after its profanation by the Syrians.

The origin of the manner of the celebration is interesting.  The feast of Hanukkah is observed by illuminating the house with lights of the purest oil for eight days.  The Talmud relates that a miracle occurring at the dedication of the purified temple was the foundation for this mode of observance.  The miracle was that one small cruise of consecrated oil, sufficient to burn but one day . . . lasted eight days and burned until new oil could be prepared. . . ."

Source:  JEWISH FESTIVAL -- Feast of Hanukkah Starts on Christmas and Will Last Eight Days, The Pelham Sun, Dec. 31, 1910, Vol. 1, No. 39, p. 2, col. 4.  

This year, Hanukkah will extend from the evening of December 24 to the evening of January 1.  This means Pelhamites should "look for an abundance of latkes, chocolate gelt and jelly doughnuts to directly coincide with the usual eggnog, sugar cookies, ham and gingerbread houses."  Kuperinsky, Amy, Why Are Hanukkah and Christmas Eve on the Same Day in 2016?,  NJ.com (visited Dec. 11, 2016).  It also means it will be a time for the Mensch on a Bench to join in joyous celebrations with the Elf on a Shelf.  Id.  

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays, Dear Pelham!

Archive of the Historic Pelham Web Site.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home