Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas - Happy Hanukkah

We wish each of you a very happy holiday season and a bright and prosperous New Year. A little bit of history on the holidays with today being special as both holidays are on 25 December this year.

Hanukkah Origins: More than 2,000 years ago, when the Syrian-Greek King Antiochus IV occupied Jerusalem, he forced the Jews to worship the Greek gods. For three years, Judah the Maccabee (also Judas Maccabeus) led a rebellion against the Syrians, and when he finally defeated them in 165 BCE, the Jews could worship freely again. To rededicate the temple, they cleaned it up from top to bottom and then relit the menorah, their special branched candelabrum. They could only find enough consecrated (pure) oil for one day, and it would take eight days to prepare more oil. They managed to make the oil in the bottle last eight days and Hanukkah celebrates both this and the rededication of the temple. Today, families gather around a menorah and light one candle on the first night of Hanukkah, two on the second, and so on for all eight nights of the festival. There are songs, stories, presents, food fried in oil (latkes, jelly doughnuts called sufganiyot) and prayers. Children play games of chance with the spinning tops called dreidels.

Hanukkah (also spelled Hanukka, Chanukah, Chanukkah), is from Hebrew and means "consecration, dedication." It was first recorded in English in 1891. Hanukkah is observed somewhere between November 25 and December 26, from 25 Kislev to 2 Tevet, because the original rededication was on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. The celebration is also called the Festival of Lights, Feast of Lights, Feast of Dedication, or Feast of the Maccabees.

Christmas Origins: from the Old English words Cristes moesse, 'the mass or festival of Christ'. The first celebration took place in Rome about the middle of the fourth century. The Twelve Days of Christmas, known by most Americans for the popular song, are actually from December 25 until January 6 (Epiphany - the day the three Wise Men or Magi arrived to present gifts to the young Jesus). The Twelfth Night is January 5th, the last day of the Christmas Season before Epiphany (January 6th), and often included feasting along with the removal of Christmas decorations. French and English celebrations of Twelfth Night included a King's Cake, remembering the visit of the Three Magi.

The New Year will bring many new beads and the return of some long awaited replacements as our beadmakers in Venice worked hard just before closing to make shipments, so watch the "New Arrivals" section.

Buon Natale as they say in Italy and
Tante Auguri (Many best wishes).
Wholesale Venetian Beads and Murano Glass Beads

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