Thursday, December 6, 2007

Shedding light on Light.

Thanks to a comment left by, JanJan, my esoteric knowledge has become a bit more esoteric. I love when this happens! She writes:
"... it's not menorahim...Menorot (it's feminine). Actually the thing we use on Chanukah is a "chanukia," which I didn't know until I grew up and was already Catholic...."

So what, pray tell, is the difference between a "menorah" and a "chanukia"? It's all in the branches.
Yes, "branches" (Exodus 25:32) . Upon seeing the word "branches," my mind leaps almost immediately to Isaiah's prophetic passages about them, many of which show up as Mass readings during Advent. (I'll have more to say in another post about what I do after my mind leaps to scripture.)

The chanukiah/chanukkiyah has nine branches -- two more than a menorah, which has seven branches. It's supposed to symbolize the burning bush on Mt. Sinai, so some menorot have branches that are straight rather than curved. There's also conjecture by those who spend much more time pondering this stuff than I, that the chanukia has more branches to preserve the sanctity of the Temple menorah.

Wait! There's more!

Kwanzaa is celebrated by lighting a kinara, a candelabra with seven candles. The center candle is black but guess what? Three of the candles are red and three are green. And when is kwanzaa celebrated? December 26 through January 1.

I'm having a minor epiphany about the Jewish origins of all this light-o-centric celebrating, but I tend to see Judaism's influence in just about everything. At some point, I'll write more about my latest insight about the Jewish origins of Bingo, which is still being played at some Roman Catholic parishes. I do so love these sacred traditions.

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