Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Legend of the Hanukah Bush

Many people think that the Hanukah Bush is a new invention, as if a bunch of Jewish kids with Christian friends whined to their parents that their friends all had cool trees with twinkle lights and decorations and gifts piled up the ceiling and all they had were some itty bitty candles, a top and some chocolate coins, so their parents made up the Hanukah Bush so they could have greenery, twinkle lights and decorations too. But, that is not true; the story of the Hanukah Bush is as old a Hanukah itself. It all started after the Macabee’s Revolt won back the Temple. As we mentioned earlier the Greeks had taken over the place and used it for their own temple, so the place was littered with statues of Zeus, Apollo, Venus and Pluto and covered with pigs’ blood, rabbits, bat guano, and lobsters.(How they got lobsters in the middle of the desert, we have no idea.) The shops on the outside had all been changed to bacon cheeseburger stands and leper whorehouses. When the Jewish leaders saw this 5 had a heart attack, and 3 invented Yiddish because they needed two languages to begin to explain how they felt. A quick search of the areas not covered in unclean things revealed 1 small jar of oil that was OK and that it would take at least 8 days to repurify the Temple. At this point the group divided into two camps about how to fix the problem. One group felt that they had worked so hard to get the Temple back, that no matter what they were going to fix it. The other group thought that the important thing was that they got the Temple back and could now follow all the rules of Judaism, which included not touching unclean things, and so the only thing to do was burn everything inside the Temple (excluding the Ark [hopefully].) by letting it dry up and setting a brush firer outside of the Temple and if that didn’t work it would only take a few generations to build a new one. Neither group could convince the other group to join their group, so they decided to each work on their idea. So the first group started cleaning out everything and the second group started finding kindling. As you know the first group was faster. But in honor of both groups’ efforts each year at Hanukah they lit the menorah and had a Hanukah Bush. That is until the Romans came around. As you may know many early European groups thought that various trees were sacred to their gods, so because one of the underlining laws of Judaism is “Don’t Act like the Pagans!” all the Rabbis agreed that they could no longer have the Hanukah Bush. After the removal of the Hanukah Bush and then the decision that the story of Hanukah wouldn’t be put in the Bible, the holiday quickly became a very minor holiday celebrated by very few people, until at the beginning of the last century when a Rabbi studying history happened upon stories of early Hanukah celebrations and found it oddly similar to how Christmas was then being celebrated with trees, candles, small gifts, and religious services. He then started working on spreading this way of celebrating Hanukah in the hopes of fostering love and understanding between Christians and Jews. And that is the way the modern Hanukah Bush came about. – F

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