In December this greeting is often heard in many ways and is a general way of wishing people a Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas, or Happy Hanukkah. For example, when I write to my friends at this time of year, I use “Season’s Greetings” for the title of my email. Then at the end of my email I write the following:
“Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”
At this time of year most people associate it with Christmas which is originally a Christian celebration of the birth of Christ. Everywhere you can hear Christmas carols, songs about Christmas, and shops and streets are decorated with Christmas trees and lights.
In December the Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days. This celebration is even older than Christmas! It is a Jewish festival commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt which happened in 167 to 160 BCE. It is also known as the Festival of Lights. The festival is observed by lighting the candles of a candelabrum that has nine branches and is called a menorah. One candle is higher than the others and is used to light the other candles. The candles are called shamash in Hebrew. Each night one candle is lit, so that on the 8th and last night all 8 candles are burning. The dates for Hanukkah are based on an old calendar, so they change each year. This year it will be from December 22 to 30.
People who celebrate Christmas usually have either a roast turkey or roast ham for the Christmas dinner, along with mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables and of course desserts. People who celebrate Hannukah eat oil-based foods, such as latkes, a type of potato pancake, and sufganiyot, round jelly donuts.
You can find more information about these holidays and their history and the ways they are celebrated on the Internet, which is like having your own private library!
No matter how you celebrate the end of the year, I extend to you and your family my best wishes for a happy holiday season!