Under the direction of Therese and Jane a group of us decorated the Mansion. It looks great. A recently discovered village of porcelain houses was arranged in the entrance. Beautiful Victorian decorations were added to the tree in the Drawing Room. Wreaths and greenery adorn doors and mantals. Trees are located all over, including the Tower. We took care to include those familiar displays that everyone looks for every year and then added new touches and surprises. We want to highlight two exhibits this year. They are our Hanukkah and Kwanzaa exhibits.
Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. It is also known as the Festival of Lights. It celebrates a Jewish victory over oppression and is a joyous holiday. It is probably the best-known Jewish holiday to nonJews because it roughly coincides with Christmas.
Hanukkah, also called the “Festival of Lights”, begins on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev. On the Roman calendar this day falls at the end of November or sometime in December.
The Menorah is a special candleholder, used only for Hanukkah. It has eight branches that represent the eight nights of the holiday. The ninth branch holds the Shamash, or servant, that lights the other candles. There are many different types of menorahs, made of a variety of materials in an assortment of shapes. On the first night of Hanukkah, the Shamash is lighted, and it is used to light the first of the Hanukkah candle. A blessing of thanks is recited, and a song called “Rock of Ages” is sung. One more candle is added and lighted each night until the menorah is filled. Gifts are exchanged, sometimes one gift for each night of Hanukkah.
The Hanukkah exhibit is located in the orientation room and features a beautiful white, blue and silver Tallit with a nickel clip. This year Hanukah begins on December 7 and ends on December 15.
Kwanzaa is a non-religious holiday that is globally celebrated from December 26 through January 1. The holiday honors African American people, their heritage, culture, and struggles in the United States. The holiday was created during the black power movement by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, who sought to build strong black communities as reflects the African cultures and African American people having origins in Africa. During Kwanzaa, family and friends gather to reassess the past, remembering their ancestors, reaffirm their dreams and hopes for the future, and give thanks for the harvest of the first fruits called Nguzo Saba.
There are several symbols of Kwanzaa. The most important symbol is the Kinara, a special candle holder made of wood. Seven candles called Mishumaa Saba of Kwanzaa are placed in the Kinara-three red, one black, and three green. The candles placed in the special candle holder together represent the harvest. Each night a candle is lit to celebrate a principle of the Hguzo Saba also called the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Those seven principles are:
Unity, Self-Determination, Work and Responsibilities, Cooperation, Purpose, Creativity and Faith.
Our Kwanzaa exhibit is located in the basement in the Underground Railroad display. The exhibit is greatly enhanced by the addition of items not used in recent years.