On Friday, December 4, 2020, a group of Form 4 (year 10) students at St. Margaret College Secondary School, Verdala, Cospicua were introduced to the Jewish celebration of ‘Hanukkah’ and learned about the difference between Christmas and Hanukkah. This school project was coordinated by senior teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc and it was related to the R.E. study unit about World Religions.
Both the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah and the Christian celebration of Christmas fall in December and they are gift-giving events. Christmas marks the birth of Jesus Christ and it is perhaps the most significant Christian observance of the Christian calendar. On the other hand, Hanukkah was until modern times a fairly minor Jewish observance which commemorates a Jewish history event that happened in the 2nd century B.C.
Christmas is celebrated on December 25th of the solar calendar and Hanukkah also falls on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev in the lunar calendar. While Christmas lasts one day, Hanukkah is an eight day holiday which commemorates the miracle of the ‘menorah’ (The menorah; Hebrew: מְנוֹרָה is described in the Bible as the seven-lamp ancient Hebrew lamp stand made of pure gold and used in the portable sanctuary set up by Moses in the wilderness and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. Fresh olive oil was burned daily to light its lamps. Hanukkah commemorates what happened in the temple of Jerusalem when one vial of oil, sufficient to light the ancient Temple of God for one day, burned for full eight days. This Jewish historical event occurred a century before the birth of Christ when the Jews revolted against the Greek pagan king Antiochus.
Normally, Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting candles, giving gifts and eating fried food, while Christmas is celebrated by attending Christmas Mass in church, enjoying a Christmas lunch or dinner and opening presents left under a Christmas tree. During Hanukkah Jews are not obliged to go to the synagogue and normally they celebrate this event at home.
Teacher Martin said that “We Christians have inherited so much from the Jewish faith and God’s own Son; the Messiah came from the Jewish People of God. Our Christian faith in Jesus as Saviour of Mankind is the key to peace of heart and hope for the future. We can now look back on a long Jewish history of salvation, but forward to the day when His kingdom enfolds people from every land.”
This school project was meant to make St. Margaret College students aware of a Jewish festivity that normally occurs during the Christmas season and to appreciate the religious meaning of its celebration. Thanks to this school study project, students enhanced their multicultural knowledge and acquired more respect and understanding towards other faiths and customs.
Five of the main goals proposed by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Quality Education, Gender Equality, Reduced Inequalities, Life on Land, and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions are reached by this project.