It's Hanukkah, aka Chanukkah, aka, Chanuka, aka just about any other spelling you can think of of if you're my Christian family. Naturally, because I didn't sleep well last night and am starting to feel sick, I crashed into my bed immediately upon getting home from work and slept until eleven. My candles were lit late. For folks who don't know, this is a relatively minor holiday in the cycle, commemorating the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabees re-took it from Antiochus's forces. Because the Temple had been used for very non-kosher things, they had to re-dedicate it. Wikipedia entry. Because of proximity to Christmas, it's become very heavily celebrated, but it's nowhere near the theological significance of Christmas. (There's not really an equivalent Jewish holiday; personally, I'd say Passover comes closest in mood--the ritual retelling of a hopeful foundational story, traditional foods to eat, traditional songs to sing, and so on--with the solemn High Holidays being more Easter-like, but given the seasonal proximity and textual connections to Easter for Christians, I think I'd have a hard time selling that one. Hanukkah, at any rate, bears only a seasonal connection. As far as fun minor holidays I wish would catch on in the mainstream, I think you can't beat the cheerful Purim.)
I'm trying to decide whether a little Hanukkah-inspired Potterverse fic would be a good way to celebrate, or slightly tacky.
Here's hoping I'm not being blasphemous and insulting people, but I did my first paper in comparative religion looking at secular things that mimic religious behavior (my favorite example, she says fondly, was in a random teen magazine that included a letter offering the testimonial that putting a houseplant under a picture of Sean Astin made it bloom; the same issue had instructions for celebrating Kirk Cameron's birthday), and it's just the way I think.
So here's a comparison that I've never been able to help making.
Jews are Bible fans.
No, I don't mean in the sense of, "The Bible says 'x' and it is therefore true and beyond all question." On occasion yes, sometimes flatly no, and it differs not just from movement to movement but from individual to individual, but not what I'm getting at. I mean that I can't help looking at the Talmudic sages and thinking they'd have been all over internet communities, having arguments about whether or not Lilith was canon (and therefore must be believed in) or folkloric (aka, fanon). There's a huge tradition of Biblical expansions called Midrash, and it is, more or less, fanfic. There are weird little OT discussions that spring up all over the Talmud, including one about whether or not eating cheese that was touched by a mouse makes you forgetful. So many Jewish texts are totally interactive that reading them is like participating in a thread that's been going on for a few millennia!
I'm not comparing the level of devotion--as much as I love Harry Potter and Star Wars, I wouldn't die for them--but just the behavior pattern. It's intersting to me.