By Maria Hilda and Hermano Wrobel
The month of December in the Gregorian calendar is special: it is the month of lights, when families come together, each in their own way, to illuminate the home and celebrate life.
Christmas, which for Christians marks the birth of Jesus, the son of God – celebrated on December 25 – is one of the most important holidays in the Christian calendar and a special moment for families.
To celebrate Christmas Day for Catholics is to celebrate the miracle of the birth of Jesus Christ and to awaken in us all the hope of our God. “The Divine became human so that the human could be Divine”.
With the intention of illustrating the Christmas story told by the Bible, the tradition of creating nativity scenes that reproduce the birth of Jesus Christ in the manger was developed. To this others were added, such as that of decorating trees to celebrate the birth of the “God of Light” and to light the Advent candles.
For Jews, Chanukah, also known as the Festival of Lights, begins after sunset on the 24th day of the month of Kislev, in the Jewish calendar, when the victory of the small Jewish army is celebrated, mostly formed by peasants who managed to win the strong, occupying Seleucid army and liberated Jerusalem, cleaning and purifying the Holy Temple.
During the purification of the temple, only a pitcher of pure oil was found, which would keep the Menorah flame burning for just one day, but miraculously it lasted eight days, long enough to purify more oil.
Recalling this passage, Jews celebrate by lighting the eight candles for Chanukah, one each day, in addition to the central candle, called Shamash (steward, keeper).
In some homes, the celebration is more intense: they are those formed by people who, respecting religious diversity, came together to form a family, where respect for differences is the greatest legacy.
This is the case with our family.
Our children were brought up knowing the history, values and traditions of Judaism and Catholicism, which are, deep down, in many ways confused, mainly because they are the first monotheistic religions that have love as their main value.
It was with this love that they grew up and formed their families.
Today, we celebrate Hanukkah feasts with our children and grandchildren – lighting the Chanukah candles – and lighting the Christmas tree lights, lighting our lives with the love we learn from the Torah and the Bible.
The differences? …. What differences? We are a family in the true expression of the word, where respect and solidarity have kept us together for so long.
CHAG CHANUKAH SAMEACH and MERRY CHRISTMAS to all of us.
Maria Hilda Magalhães da Rocha Wrobel is Catholic and Hermano Wrobel is Jewish, and they have been married for 48 years.