(Updated and re-posted on 12/13/08)
This is another time of year that cards are given, but probably not as frequently as you think.
Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of re-dedication, also known as the festival of lights, is an eight day festival beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev (which means that it is NOT on the same day every year and it doesn't always happen close to Christmas - make sure to check your calendars).
Hanukkah also can be spelled in many ways. Don't be afraid that you've misspelled it...
It is also known as:
- The Festival of Lights
- The Feast of Dedication
- The Feast of the Maccabees
Hanukkah is probably the best known Jewish holiday because of its proximity to Christmas. Many non-Jews (and Jews too) think of this holiday as the "Jewish Christmas" and have adopted many of the Christmas customs, such as elaborate gift-giving and decoration. It is bitterly ironic that this holiday, which has its roots in a revolution against assimilation and the suppression of Jewish religion, has become the most assimilated, secular holiday on our calendar.
The only true symbol of this holiday is the lighting of the Menorah. The candles are set in a Hanukiyah, better known as a Menorah, which is the Hebrew word meaning "candelabra." A Hanukiyah has nine candles: one for each night, plus a shamus (servant) at a different height to symbolize the difference from the other candles. (This is a nice note if you are stamping cards with candle stamps - you would stamp 9 total and shift one at a different height). The menorah is usually placed outside of the doorway on the left side (when entering) opposite the mezuzah. If this is not possible, it can be placed on a window sill facing a public street, providing the sill is not more than twenty-nine feet above street level (no point if you live in a high-rise and no one can see it right?). If neither of these are possible, the Menorah can be placed on a table inside the house.
Contrary to popular belief Hanukkah is not an important religious holiday. Hanukkah is not even mentioned in Jewish scripture as the story is related in the book of Maccabbees, which Jews do not accept as scripture.
Another tradition of Hanukkah is the Dreidel Game - dreidels are marked with four Hebrew letters: Nun, Gimmel, Hey and Shin. These letters stand for the Hebrew phrase "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham", which means "a great miracle happened there", referring to the miracle of the oil. (I'm sure you can find the story online if you wanted ) Most people play for matchsticks, pennies, M&Ms or chocolate coins - so there's a few ideas for your stamping. Dreidels were first used during the rule of Antiochus before the Maccabees' revolt. During this time, it was forbidden to study the Torah. Anyone studying the Torah would keep a dreidel handy and would then pull out a dreidel and pretend to be playing whenever soldiers investigated
Dreidel is played by placing coins (or some other object) into a pot. Then, each player spins the dreidel and one of four things happen, depending on what side the Driedel lands on:
- Shin means you lose your coins.
- Nun means nothing happens. You neither get coins, nor lose coins.
- Hay means you take half the pot.
- Gimmel means you get the whole pot.
Some ideas for stamping cards during the Hanukkah season:
- Star of davids (AKA Magen Davids)
- candles (birthday candles will do! Just make sure you use 9 total)
- winter scenes are acceptable since this is usually the time of year that Hanukkah happens depending on your area of the world (at least it does for me in the US).
- coins (gelt for dreidel games)
- wrapped presents (I find blue and silver colored images work nicely, since presents are usually given on each night)
No Jewish stamps? That's okay - a simple "Seasons Greetings" will do - trust me - you don't have to go out and buy a Jewish stamp set just because your new neighbors who moved in are Jewish. Just please no "Merry Christmas" - although it is appreciated by most.
- Silver and Blue, but you can incorporate any color really - there aren't any rules here..
Some sample sentiments are:
- Happy Hanukkah
- Eat, Light and Be Merry
- Dreidle Dreidle Dreidle, we made you out of clay... and when it's dry and ready. With dreidel I shall play....
- Light the Menorah, and Spin the Dreidel!
- 8 great nights!
- The menorah lights are shining, the holiday season is here. Let's have a party, dance the hora and cheer!
- Wishing you a joyous Festival of Lights!
- No matter how you spell it...Happy Hanukkah!
- Wishing you eight whole days of love and happiness
- Come and take a spin (for a dreidel card)
- Nes Gadol Hayah Sham (Means: A Graet Miracle Happened There)
- Nes Gadol Hayah Poh (Means: A Great Miracle Happened Here (Isreal))
- Nes Gadol Chai Poh (Means: A Great Miracle is Alive Here)
- Nun, Gimel Hay, Shin (The characters on the Dreidel)
- Yitromeyn libeynu, tshovav nafsheynu, b'hadlakat neyr shel chanukkah (Means: May our hearts be lifted and spirits refreshed as we light the Chanukah candles)
Some sample stamps and companies to get you started:
- Stampin Up has 4 or 5 Hanukah sets (check ebay if you can't get them from your demo!)
- CTMH also has a few Hanukkah sets (also check ebay if your demo can't get them for you)
- Ruth's Jewish stamps also carries a large selection
- Hevea Art Stamps also has a nice selection
- Zum Gali Gali also has a few stamps!
- Stamping Bella - home of the "Bellas". Check out the Menorah Bella and other great Hanukkah Stamps