4th Night of Hanukkah / Chanukah... 2009

On the old site, I used to do something to celebrate Hanukkah (Channukah, חנוכה). Last year, I revived the tradition by presenting 8 days of Mathieu gifts for the 8 days of the holiday. This year, I thought I'd pick a key part of the holiday (a tradition, a symbol, something of historical significance) to share... and connect it in some way to Mathieu.

So, with that said... I present to you gift number 4:

In 168 BCE, the Syrians/Greeks seized the temple in Jerusalem and made it into a temple for Zeus. Emperor Antiochus went a step further and outlawed the practice of Judiasm and forced all Jews to worship the Greek gods instead. Those who did not comply were killed. This didn't go over well, and a when some soliders made a high priest bow before an idol, well, he kind of flipped out and killed a bunch of folks. That priest than went into hiding, built a small army of fellow rebels, and came back to town to push the Syrian/Greeks out of the land and rededicated the temple to their God. Those rebels are best known as "the Maccabees."

The Maccabees are most known by the books in the (Apocryphal) Bible and the Olympic-like games that share their name. Every four years, Jewish athletes from around the world head to Israel for these elites games.

Again, a pretty tenuous relationship, but Mathieu does have a connection to the Maccabi Games. His brother, Jean-Alain, represented Canada (the country in which he was living as he attended college). He and the Canadian team, under the coaching of legendary Jacques Demers, won the gold medal in hockey that year.

An aside: For those who are interested, here is a neat "what you need to know about Hanukkah" story from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: Spinning Tales: A Hanukkah Primer. And don't laugh at the graphic. That was the first animated gif I ever made, back in 1997 or so (using Claris Works clip art and a semi-legal copy of Photoshop). It was hot stuff at the time. =) And special thanks to Spencer for his advice and Hebrew spellings of things.

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