16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Eighth Square – Hanukkah and Las Posadas

(December 12th – 20th)

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid (Macedonian Greek) Empire (167 to 160 BC).  Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar.  It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.  The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of the nine-branched menorah, one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night.  The typical menorah consists of eight branches with an additional visually distinct branch.  The extra light, with which the others are lit, is called a shamash (Hebrew: שמש‎‎, “attendant“) and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest.  Other Hanukkah customs include playing dreidel and eating oil-based foods such as doughnuts and latkes.

The Reading Tasks:

Read a book whose main character is Jewish, any story about the Jewish people –OR– where the miracle of light plays a significant part in the stories plot.


Other Tasks:

Light nine candles around the room (SAFELY) and post a picture. –OR– Play the Dreidel game to pick the next book you read.

Assign a book from your TBR to each of the four sides of the dreidel:

נ (Nun)
ג (Gimel)
ה (He)
ש (Shin)

Spin a virtual dreidel: http://www.torahtots.com/holidays/chanuka/dreidel.htm
– then tell us which book the dreidel picked.

Make your own dreidel: https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/make-a-dreidel, –OR–
Play the game at home, or play online: http://www.jewfaq.org/dreidel/play.htm and tell us about the experience.–OR– Give some Gelt: Continue a Hanukkah tradition and purchase some chocolate coins, or gelt. Post a picture of your chocolate coins, and then pass them out amongst friends and family!


Las Posadas
(December 16th – 24th)

Las Posadas is a novenario (nine days of religious observance) representing the nine-month pregnancy of Mary, the mother of Jesus, celebrated chiefly in Mexico and by Mexican-Americans in the United States.  Las Posadas – Spanish for lodgings or accommodations, which in this case refers to the inn in the story of the nativity of Jesus – was introduced into Mexico when Spanish missionaries brought the custom of the religious pageant to Mexico, where they used it to teach the story of Jesus’ birth to Mexico’s people.  In 1586, a papal bull ordered that a Christmas Mass was to be observed as novenas on the nine days preceding Christmas Day throughout Mexico. – Las Posadas is a procession going from one house designated as “inn” to the next, during which either individual participants play the various parts of Mary and Joseph with the expectant mother riding a real donkey, and with attendants such as angels and shepherds acquired along the way, or the pilgrims carry images of the holy couple instead.  Children may carry poinsettias.  The procession is followed by musicians, with the entire procession singing songs asking for lodging at the inn.  At the end of each night’s journey, there are Christmas carols (villancicos), children break open star-shaped piñatas to obtain candy and fruit hidden inside, and there is a feast.

The Reading Tasks:

Read a book dealing with visits by family or friends, or set in Mexico, –OR– with a poinsettia on the cover. –OR– a story where the main character is stranded without a place to stay, or find themselves in a ‘no room at the Inn’ situation.


Other Tasks:

Which was your favorite / worst / most memorable hotel / inn / vacation home stay ever? Tell us all about it! –OR– If you went caroling as a kid: Which are your best / worst / most unfortettable caroling memories?

Bonus task: Make a piñata (https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Pi%C3%B1ata), hang it from a tree, post, basketball hoop, clothesline or similarly suitable holder and let your neighborhood kids have a go at breaking it.


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