I’ve absolutely loved my first year of blogging and the best things about it was finding a whole community of other bloggers, making new friends and trying new experiences. I’ve particularly enjoyed being a part of the monthly travel link up with Kelly
. In my blog I generally cover restaurants, hotels or events, but the travel link up has given me a chance to think outside the box and look back on past experiences and places that I’ve been to.
Today’s post is the final travel link up of the year and it’s something completely different to anything that I usually write about. When the lovely Kiwi trio, along with their guest host Sam
, announced the topic was: how do you celebrate the festive season? I thought it was an opportunity to think back to my childhood and how I celebrated Christmas whilst growing up.
I’ve mentioned before that I grew up in Buckinghamshire and the town of Amersham. Actually to be more specific, the first house I lived in was in the teeny tiny village of Chesham Bois (pronounced ‘boys’). The little village sits adjacent to the larger towns of Amersham and Chesham with a population of around 3,000.
My primary school, which I attended from the ages of 5 – 12 was called Chesham Bois and my Secondary School (aged 12 – 18) was called Chesham High School. So when I went to university it was the first Educational Institution I’ve ever been to without ‘Chesham’ in the name!
I know you’re probably thinking, ‘Oh, but Angie we thought you were a cosmopolitan London girl.’ Actually as small and remote as the Bucks towns seem they are still on the London Underground.
Check out the top left corner!
Anyway, what does all this have to do with Christmas? Well, everything in my small town pretty much revolved around the church…I went to a Church of England School where we said prayers, sang hymns, regularly went to church and, of course, performed an annual nativity play.
As you can imagine I was the only Jew in the village…
And my parents certainly didn’t want us to feel like this at Christmas…
So that I didn’t feel like poor Kyle, I still appeared in the school nativity play, we had a Christmas Tree at home and lots of presents on Christmas day.
On Christmas Eve we’d leave out a mince pie for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph. Inevitably, I couldn’t sleep and read a book until late into the night, wondering when Santa would be coming down the chimney…obviously I’d eventually drop off, wake up at 5am and run into my sister’s room in excitement. The mince pie and carrot had been eaten, a hastily scribbled note had been left and there loads of presents in our stockings / pillow cases and under the tree!
Then the usual present opening, turkey eating and watching Christmas TV commenced until midnight when it was all over for another year!
But having said all that, our parents didn’t want us to forget about our own religion.
At the around the same time as Christmas is Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of lights.
The festival is intended to remind Jews of a period of time around 2,500 years ago when the Syrian King tried to force Jewish people to worship Greek gods. The worshipping of false idols went against the 10 commandments and the Jews refused to participate.
A group of Jewish people called the Maccabees rebelled, a three year war ensued, until finally they recaptured Jerusalem from the Syrians. However, the temple was pretty much destroyed… the Jews repaired the temple and rededicated it to God. To do this, they lit a lamp to symbolise God’s presence but they only had a very small jar of oil. However, miraculously the lamp stayed alight for eight days and the modern day celebration of Hanukkah commemorates the miracle.
At home we celebrated in the ways most Jews do by lighting one candle on the Hanukiah (the eight stemmed candlebra pictured above) each day of the celebration.
And how do I celebrate today?
Well Mr Silver and I aren’t particularly religious but it wouldn’t feel right if we didn’t have a Hanukiah…
….and a Christmas tree in our home…
….and raise a glass of champagne to a Very Jewish Christmas….
How do you celebrate Christmas?