8 Misconceptions About Hanukkah Debunked

8 Misconceptions About Hanukkah

It is so much more than "Jewish Christmas."

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Happy Hanukkah! A lot of people don't seem to understand what the holiday entails, resulting in some pretty interesting misconceptions. I am here to debunk them.

1. The Myth: Hanukkah is just like Christmas, but Jewish!

The truth: Hanukkah is nothing like Christmas. It wouldn't make sense for Jewish people to celebrate anything similar to Christmas. Jewish people do not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, so no need to celebrate his birth. The only thing the holidays have in common is the fact that they take place in the winter, that there's some form of lighting involved, and there are special prayers and food.

With that in mind, wouldn't a number of holidays be "a lot like Christmas?"

Hanukkah is a commemoration of when the Holy Land was ruled by Greeks over 2,000 years ago, who tried to force Jewish people to accept their culture and abandon their own. Despite that, the Jewish people drove the Greeks away from the land and sought to light a menorah, only to find one tiny bit of olive oil. It was only supposed to last one day, but instead lasted for eight days!

Note that Hanukkah is by no means an anti-Greek holiday; it's about celebrating Jewish victory. Tons of Greek Jews exist and they happily celebrate Hanukkah.

2. The Myth: Hanukkah is a major Jewish holiday.

The truth: Not really. Yom Kippur, Passover, and Rosh Hashanah are much more important. That being said, Hanukkah is still an important day. It just is by no means a major holiday like Christmas or Easter is for Christians.

3. The Myth: Jewish children get large amounts of gifts every single night! It's like eight Christmas mornings in a row!

The truth: Nope. Jewish children typically tend to get gelt (chocolate coins and/or real money) and dreidels, but that's it. It isn't a gift-giving holiday, and that's okay! That being said, in Christian-centric countries, the amount of presents given at Hanukkah has increased due to December being Christmastime and a gift-giving season. This is NOT A SIGN of Jewish people "conforming to Christian norms;" it's to prevent kids from feeling left out this time of year.

Even if gift-giving was a commonplace Hanukkah tradition, it still wouldn't be "eight Christmas mornings in a row," unless maybe the Jewish family in question was made up of multimillionaires. Think of how much money and time goes into buying gifts for just ONE Christmas Day! Hanukkah would probably be more like giving out one large amount of gifts spaced over a period of eight days, rather than eight back-to-back days of large amounts of gifts.

4. The Myth: Hanukkah is connected to Christmas.

The truth: Nope, not at all, as I explained in point one. People tend to think the two holidays are connected because they take place around the same time. This begs the question, do you think that New Year's Day and Martin Luther King Day are connected? They both take place in January!

What about Easter and Memorial Day? Sometimes, they're only a bit over a month apart! Thanksgiving Day and Veterans Day both happen in November, so they must have a big connection, right? Wrong!

5. The Myth: Anyone can celebrate Hanukkah!

The truth: Hanukkah is a strictly Jewish holiday and it doesn't make sense for gentiles to celebrate it. Now, don't get me wrong; if you're Christian, or Muslim, or Buddhist or something else, and your Jewish friends invite you to partake in their celebrations, that's great and I encourage it!

If you're looking to convert to Judaism and want to celebrate before conversion, even better! What I mean is that there is no point to someone celebrating if they have no connection whatsoever to Judaism. Refer back to my first point, where I explained what Hanukkah celebrates. It's about Jewish people celebrating a holiday for themselves and overcoming assimilation.

There's just no need to celebrate if you're not Jewish, and this is in no way intended to be a rude statement. I mean, have you ever seen people who aren't African-American celebrate Kwanzaa? Have you ever seen a non-Muslim fast for Ramadan?

This misconception comes from the fact that a lot of non-Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter. Christmas and Easter, at least in the U.S., have become cultural holidays so that secular people may want to celebrate them. However, this isn't the case for Hanukkah. Jewish people aren't being mean by saying it's a holiday only for them; it's just facts.

However, if you want to give us latkes despite not being Jewish, I'm sure we wouldn't refuse.

6. The Myth: Dreidel games were invented for Hanukkah only.

The truth: In the 19th century, the Torah had been outlawed. A rabbi decided that Jewish people could play with a dreidel to fool people if someone tried to catch them reading it. They could act as if they were merely gambling rather than practicing their religion.

7. The Myth: There's only one correct way to spell the holiday.

The truth: There's Hanukkah, Hanukah, Chanukah, and Chanukkah. Technically, the correct way is חנוכה, but that may be a struggle for those who don't know Hebrew.

8. The Myth: Hanukkah starts on the same day every year.

The truth: It doesn't, at least not if you're looking at a Gregorian calendar. On the Hebrew calendar, it DOES start on the same day: the 25th of Kislev. Months on the Hebrew calendar are based on the moon, and due to the ever-changing moon cycle, it'll be on a different Gregorian day every year! Speaking of, Hanukkah always starts at sundown.

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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17 Holidays Coming This May That You Need To Prepare For Now

It's going to be May!

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Oh the month of May, the month of spring, the winding down of the school year with summer slowly approaching. May is notoriously known as the month that holds Mothers Day, but did you know that there are actually a handful of holidays happening in the month of May that are just as exciting as Mothers Day? Well, in case you didn't, I've decided to list a few.

1. May is National Salad Month

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Oh yeah, celebrate your healthy side and try out numerous salads throughout the month of May!

2. May is National Hamburger Month

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Not a salad fan? Well fret not because you can get your loose pants on to celebrate national burger month by trying different burgers everyday! Actually, for health purposes, you probably shouldn't. But hey, I do not judge your journey.

3. May is Older Americans Month

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Take the time during the month of May to appreciate our older Americans. Go out and spend time with your granny, or heck volunteer at your local assisted living area or nursing home - those guys need some loving too.

4. International Tuba Day - May 3rd

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This day falls on the first Friday of every May which happens to be the third! Go on and celebrate your tuba playing or your tuba playing friends!

5. Lumpy Rug Day - May 3rd

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This day is always celebrated on May 3rd. This is the day where we take the time to appreciate a good rug. How do you enjoy lumpy rug day? Go buy yourself a new lumpy rug. Or, take the time to appreciate the rug you own.

6. Free Comic Book Day - May 4th

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This day always falls on the first Saturday of the month of May. Go to your local comic book shop on this day to pick up some new comics you've been dying to read. Maybe even brush up on your comic book knowledge for Endgame (even tho it has already hit theaters by then).

7. Clean Up Your Room Day - May 10th

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Hey, May is spring and spring is for cleaning.

8. International Migratory Bird Day - May 11th

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This day falls on the second Saturday of every may. Take the time to go out into nature and learn about the bird flying into your area for the season.

9. National Windmill Day - May 11th

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This is a traditional Holiday celebrated in Holland, the land of the Windmills. Take the time to brush up on your native roots or brush up on a new culture and dwell in this nation's pride in their windmills. Trust me, the history of it all is actually interesting.

10. Dance Like A Chicken Day - May 14th

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Life is too serious guys. Take the time to dance like a chicken.

11. National Bike To Work Day - May 17th

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In a time where our planet is needing clean energy more than ever, dust off your ol' bike and ride it to work. Hey, you may actually be touching base with that New Year's resolution you made about being more active by engaging with this holiday.

12. No Dirty Dishes Day - May 18th

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Let's face it, dishes are the worst! This is the day where the goal is to not make any dirty dishes so that you can give yourself a break from doing the dishes. How can this be done? Use biodegradable, disposable dishes or take the family out to eat for all three meals!

13. World Goth Day - May 22nd

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Black not your color? Well, have no fear because this day is not about wearing black, but about goth culture. Celebrate you uniqueness this day. Maybe listen to some Black Veil Brides for old times sake.

14. Don't Fry Friday - May 24th

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Always celebrated the Friday before memorial day, don't fry Friday is the day to remember that summer is approaching and you need to take the proper steps to help protect the skin on your body. Sunscreen baby, sunscreen!

15. National Brown Bag It Day - May 25th

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Very few people take their lunches in brown paper bags. Take it back to old school times and take your lunch in a brown paper bag.

16. Water A Flower Day - May 30th

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Take the time to love Mother Earth by taking care of her plants on this day.

17. Save Your Hearing Day - May 31st

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This is the day to take the time to learn about what causes hearing loss and how to prevent it.

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