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Hanukkah Decoration for the Home

Cardboard Hanukkah decoration used by three generations of a Wisconsin family, c. 1960.
(Museum object #2002.388.6)

The Bernard and Annette Howards family of Racine, Wisconsin purchased this decoration and many others for their celebration of Hanukkah, c. 1960. The light cardboard paper cutout depicts a young Jewish boy and girl on the last day of Hanukkah. The boy is holding the shammash (helper) candle, used to light all the other candles, and he has just lit the eighth candle on the menorah signifying the final day of the festival. The decoration can be displayed flat or folded to give it a three-dimensional form for use on a table top.

The Howards family continued to use the decoration after they moved to Madison, Wisconsin around 1965 up until the mid-1970s when their children had grown. Annette Howards then gave the decoration to her daughter, Laurel Hefty, in the 1980s. The Hefty family incorporated the decoration into celebrations with their children in their Albany, Wisconsin home until 2002.

Hanukkah, also spelled Hanukka, Chanukah, or Chanukkah, commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by the lighting of candles on each day of the festival. Following his victory in a three-year struggle against Antiochus, Judas Maccabeus ordered the cleansing and restoration of the Temple in 165 BCE. When Judas Maccabeus entered the Temple, however, he found only a small jar of oil needed for burning in lamps. This jar contained only enough oil for one day’s worth of light, but miraculously the oil burned for eight days until consecrated oil could be found. This event established the precedent for the festival lasting eight days. After the Temple was purified, a new altar was installed. Judas Maccabeus then proclaimed that the dedication of the restored Temple should be celebrated for a period of eight days each year.

Posted on December 29, 2005

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