You'd think being the token Jewish guy at the Salt Lake magazine would be rough on Chanukah, but I've actually gotten more "Happy Hanukkahs" in the past three days at our Trolley Corners office than ever before.
Seriously, I work with a culturally-aware bunch, but also more than ever, this year the question "Why so early?" popped up.
I thought back to my Hebrew school lessons and supplemented it with some online research, so I'm pretty sure I have a good answer.
Chanukah (or Hanukkah, if you can't make the sound of the letter chet, which is like the "ch" Johann Sebastian Bach with a slight hock-a-loogie sound) started Wednesday evening and ends on Dec. 9 and actually blazes through Christmas, Dec. 20-28, next year because of the correlation between the Jewish and Gregorian calendars.
Jewish calendar: Chanukah is on the 25th of Kislev every year, and like your work calendar a day is 24 hours. The moon's rotation around the Earth (a Jewish month actually starts with the first sliver of visible moon in its cycle) is a month, and the Earth's revolution around the sun is a year.
When you coordinate these phenomena (I mean really coordinate them) you get about 29 1/2 days in a month and about 12.4 months in a year. To make it all add up perfectly with our rotation around the sun, months are 29 or 30 days and an extra month is added every two or three years.
So, yes it's different and pretty accurate, but at least the rest of the world has the benefit of knowing how many months are each year without doing the math...well at least until leap year.
And speaking of the Gregorian calendar, here's some events to help you celebrate the Chanukah weekend with Gregorian dates.
Friday, Dec. 3
KRCL Polar Jubilee Brad Wheeler's Hanukkah Harmonica Army will be there to teach everyone Hava Negilah on their own harmonicas available for purchase. The show also stars Spell Talk, Mad Max & the Wild Ones and the Joshua Payne Orchestra.
Salt Lake Hardware Building, 7â€“11 p.m. 105 N. 400 West, SLC Click here for more info
Sunday, Dec. 5
Shalom Sesame Party at the JCC The new season of Shalom Sesame (the Jewish Sesame Street) premieres at the IJ & Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center, and it's all about Chanukah. They'll also have a party with dinner and music. It all goes down from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
IJ & Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center 2 N. Medical Drive, SLC 801-581-0098 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more info
Chanukah on Ice Free ice skating for Utah's Jewish community and friends, along with delicious latkes and sufganiyot (jelly donuts) and, of course, Utah's largest indoor Menorah lighting. Thank Rabbi Benny Zippel on the ice,¦extra points if you dress like a dreidel and do spins.
Gallivan Center, 3 p.m., lighting at 5:15 p.m. 200 South Main Street, SLC Click here for more info