A four colored holiday season

Molly Geisinger '15

Molly Geisinger ’15

A majority of the Convent of the Sacred Heart community eagerly lights Advent candles and Christmas trees as Christmas approaches, others are preparing to light a Menorah, and some families even celebrate both religious traditions.
Christmas involves four weeks of lighting a single candle leading up to Christmas, whereas Hanukkah is an eight-day Festival of Lights according to chabad.orgThis holiday celebrates the Israelites’ military victory over the Greek army and the miracle of an eight-day-long burning of the temple’s menorah, which ignited from a single-day supply of oil. It begins 25 Kislev in the Jewish calendar, and includes traditional celebrations such as reciting Hallel and Al HaNissim during daily prayers and eating fried foods such as latkes and sufganiyot, according to chabad.org.

Molly Geisinger '15
Molly Geisinger ’15

A few students in the Upper School, whether mixed-faith or all-Jewish, celebrate Hanukkah with their families during December. Their celebrations include a blend of traditional prayers and foods along with their own unique traditions, some of which are influenced by Christmas.
Senior Emma Novick celebrates Hanukkah with family both here and in California. During the eight-day holiday she calls relatives living in California and sings traditional prayer with them each night. Emma and her family also enjoy decorating their front yard tree with blue and white lights. The Novicks add less-traditional activities to their Hanukkah celebrations as well, including a unique take on the typical scavenger hunt.
“My family has a matzo scavenger hunt where my dad hides matzo in napkins with a certain amount of money all around the house and we search for them,” Emma said.
Emma admits that Christmas has a slight influence on her family’s Hanukkah celebrations. For example, her family exchanges gifts in a small Secret Santa during the Jewish holiday. She also receives most of her presents on Christmas day to join in the spirit.
Senior Vanessa Raskin also celebrates Hanukkah with a special tradition tied to Christmas.
“My family gets a Hanukkah bush which is basically a fat Christmas tree every year and we decorate it,” Vanessa said. “Starting on the first night, we light the menorah and get one gift for eight nights.”
Some members of our community do not just celebrate Hanukkah with Christmas influences, but even celebrate both holidays as part of a mixed-faith family. Freshman Isabella Russekoff, whose father is Jewish and whose mother is Catholic, celebrates both holidays with traditional festivities.
“My family has regular traditions during Hanukkah. Every night before dinner we light the menorah and say a prayer,” she said.
After the eighth day, Isabella and her family transitions to preparing for Christmas when they adorn their house in Christmas decorations.
“We mostly follow the regular traditions of Santa and hanging the stockings,” she said. “We still have a Christmas tree and receive presents on the day of Christmas.”
Senior Grace Finerman also appreciates being able to celebrate both holidays because she gets to not only spend time with her extended family, but also has the opportunity to eat traditional Jewish meals such as potato latkes.
“Having a Protestant mom and a Jewish dad gives me the best of both worlds because I’m able to celebrate both holidays,” Grace said. 
Whether families are lighting the advent wreath, the menorah, or both, both Christmas and Hanukkah give families the opportunity to come together in faith and hope to celebrate the end of another year. 
-Molly Geisinger, Co-Features Editor