No matter what your personal spiritual beliefs, there is something magical in lighting candles. The mystery and the beauty of the flame catching the wick to brings a glow of light and hope that seems to reconnect us to those we love. The lighting of the Menorah at Chanukah symbolizes this re-dedication.
Most people know something of the history behind the lighting of the Menorah for Chanukah. Either from family, Jewish friends or some of the biblical stories we’ve heard which are common to several religions. This is just a brief retelling.
A band of the faithful, led by Judah and his four brothers, formed an army to fight the Syrian king, Antiochus who wanted to take away their religious freedom. After Judah and his army defeated them, and were going to rededicate the temple, they looked for oil to light the eternal light, visible in all Jewish houses of worship. They were only able to find a small amount, which they sadly assumed would last just one day. They were dismayed because, once lit, the eternal flame should never be put out.
But, miracles occur. The miracle is that the eternal light stayed lit for eight full days. This marks not only victory over an enemy but a rededication of the temple. In fact the word Chanukah itself means rededication.
Spiritual beliefs and religions give us many beautiful traditions. The meaning of rededication at Chanukah can be used as a rededication of your love for each other and a reaffirmation of the eternal flame of your marriage. Your own personal victory can be seen as the knowledge that, no matter what, your marriage can triumph over the enemies known as anger and careless words.
Chanukah is a holy time of joy. Decorations in blue and silver adorn many houses and special foods are prepared. Make a date with your husband to share what has to be done to get ready for the holiday. Be specific in asking for his help. If all the work of preparation falls only to you, you will be too exhausted to enjoy the holiday.
Do you need help buying the presents? How about some assistance wrapping them?
Believe it or not, more men than you know do like to help because it makes them feel a part of the celebration. As for wrapping, if he doesn’t try he’ll never master it!
Can he help you with the cooking? There is something so intimate and beautiful in preparing a meal together. If food is one of the staples of life, then shouldn’t the preparation of it be a labor of love shared? Remember that some of the world’s most famous chefs are men. Just be careful not to criticize him if he decides to get a “bit creative” with a recipe that has been handed down to you from three generations on your mother’s side of the family! Variety is good, too.
What are your holiday traditions? How do you light the Menorah? Make this beautiful ceremony a moment of love. Hold hands and say a prayer together. Let each candle be lit for the love you have.
As far as traditions go, it is perfectly fine to create some of your own. One friend of mine told me that her mother-in-law didn’t like the fact that there were three Menorahs in different rooms of their house. Each one was lit. Her mother-in-law felt that it took away from the simplicity and tradition of using only one. Finally, my friend and her husband gently explained that they were starting a new tradition, one that they hoped she would honor.
A colleague of mine, a Sephardic Jew from Spain, has slightly different traditions than his wife’s family who traces her own heritage back to Israel. This was apparent in the wording of certain prayers and food preferences. They decided to create their own tradition by incorporating a part of what each held dear during their childhoods into their marriage, thus honoring one another. Make different traditions work for you as a couple, not separate you.
Above all make this holiday magical and filled with love. In all religions and spiritual beliefs, the loving relationship between a man and a woman is sacred and blessed by all that is holy.
Bless your Chanukah, and each other, with love.
© 2012 copyright Kristen Houghton all rights reserved.
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