Hanukkah observed by students, not schools


Sam Massi

Senior Sam Massi celebrates Hanukkah with her family by lighting menorahs, which represent the miracle of the oil lasting eight days. Picture used with permission of Sam Massi.

Vyas Yaddanapudi, Staff Writer

Each year, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) honors as many religious days as possible through religious observance days or holidays, but Hanukkah is one of the widely known religious celebrations that was not represented in previous years. Regardless, Senior Sam Massi partakes in all of the traditions correlated with Hanukkah.

Hanukkah is an eight-day festival, usually in the month of December, celebrating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Hanukkah is celebrated by playing dreidel, praying, lighting menorahs, and eating special food like latkes. Massi and her family have one additional custom they partake in, however.

“We [open] one present a night except for one night where we choose a charity to give to,” Massi said.

In addition to the tradition of giving gifts, Hanukkah also has songs to celebrate. However, this music is often underrepresented.

“When I was little, it was really upsetting because all of the winter holiday concerts were only Christmas music and it’s gotten gradually better as I’ve gotten older,” said Massi. “However, there’s usually one song that could be loosely related to Hanukkah in holiday spec. Even going into stores it was always sad. The entire store was Christmas themed and if you’re lucky you find one shelf with everything blue that the store sells, because if it’s blue the store thinks it must be related to Hanukkah.”

The stores may not match the theme of Hanukkah every year partly due to the fact that Hanukkah dates fluctuate every year. Jews follow the Hebrew calendar which has fewer days than the English calendar, which causes fluctuation in the days Hanukkah occurs. Some years, Hanukkah may begin as early as November 28, whereas in other years, it is possible to start as late as December 27.

The start and end of Hanukkah are not official holidays in FCPS unlike in other locations, but that does not impede Massi from celebrating Hanukkah. This year, Hanukkah falls in the middle of winter break. Next year however, Hanukkah occurs earlier in December, so it is uncertain what FCPS may decide to do; a holiday or or religious observance day could be given.

“This year has been the first time I’ve ever had school off for them and it was much appreciated and I hope it continues and expands to many more holidays and other religions,” Massi said.