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Looking Back on the James Bond Franchise Through James Bond Day

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Sean Connery as James Bond in Licence to Kill, holding a gun up to his face and smiling

The official Global James Bond Day, also known as 007 Day, marked the 58th anniversary of the first film in the series, Dr. No, which was released in 1962.

The franchise is rolling towards six decades of being a part of World cinema; it contains a total of 25 main films marking an impressive accomplishment in filmography.

To properly honor James Bond Day, here is a list containing take-aways from the movies. Things that you may perhaps make use of in your own life, or maybe a savory piece of trivia worthy of admiration that you can hold on to.

The Connery Years — and That One Lazenby Film:

Dr. No (1962):

Indiana Jones has ophidiophobia, and Michael Schenker wrote an album called Arachnophobia, which are just some simple reminders that fear is often genuine.

In Dr. No, Quarrel is killed by the “dragon” rumored to exist in the Bahamas, which is actually a fire tank, a presence that is the product of the film’s antagonist, Dr. No.

One may realize from watching the film that Quarrel could have saved himself, but his death emphasizes how significantly fear can influence not only our reactions to a situation in general but our reaction time as well, should we choose to react.

Some people simply freeze in fear, an element dramatized in media entertainment, while some are quick to react carelessly or otherwise, which is best illustrated in horror films. If you are a true Bond enthusiast, why not start your 007 Day by watching the film that started it all?

From Russia with Love (1963):

Arguably one of the best takeaways from this film is that you’ll always be presented with bait in a high-stakes situation, and under general circumstances, taking it will work against you. Bond does manage to flip Tatiana Romanova, although one could argue that it is more of a decision she makes on her own.

A fair comparison could be made to Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises, since she initially antagonizes Batman, as well as encourages his capture, but later digs into her conscience to assist him for the greater good.

Your Global James Bond Day is not complete without acknowledging the film’s heroic transition from evil to good that pleasantly stuns fans today.

Goldfinger (1964):

Many college campuses across the country have students who intend to be service members, or who were once service members, and Goldfinger is a 007 Day reminder to not underestimate the power of the U.S. military.

Their response at the tail end of the film illustrates how absurd antagonist Auric Goldfinger’s plan to destroy Fort Knox from the inside really was. But, of course, the art of storytelling left him only a few seconds from being able to achieve that goal.

Thunderball (1965): 

It’s completely reasonable for one to think that people would not deliberately attempt to steal nuclear weapons from a major power to satisfy their own goals; that is exactly what Thunderball decided to investigate.

You Only Live Twice (1967):

Ninjas were once crucial warriors in Japanese warfare during the samurai era, and You Only Live Twice gives them a modern touch with guns.

The more grim undertone presented in the film, though, is that the world’s nuclear powers are truly one warhead launch away from permanently changing the state of the world and its environment.

Even without some organization like SPECTRE, we still live under this threat, which is arguably more dangerous than if SPECTRE or something like it was real.

Questions for our dear philosophy majors are as follows: Does living twice include the afterlife? Do you even live in the afterlife? How does one live twice?

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969):

It’s fairly difficult to avoid noticing all the sports being tossed around in this film, especially since Bond participates in three during the important points in the film.

Sports can help establish the amount of time a person needs to participate in an exercise-oriented activity each day, and different skills from different sports can be manipulated for use in other tasks, with everything from focus to reaction time.

By college, it’s fair game to say that a significant portion of people, if not the majority, have an understanding of this concept, while others simply find another way to activate or reinforce the skills that are of interest to them.

Diamonds Are Forever (1971):

Taking place mostly in Las Vegas, there couldn’t be a more appropriate location for the vices that Bond films have to offer. People who can be considered as “evil” are more likely to have body doubles, something the film establishes more than once.

The Roger Moore Years:

Live and Let Die (1973):

If you’re a Beatles fan, you’ll recognize the title sequence, as Paul McCartney penned the track of the same name. As Bond investigates mysterious deaths, spy fans can enjoy typical 007 action and adventure that Global James Bond Day remembers.

The Man with the Golden Gun (1974):

One could argue that the most satisfying part of the film, especially if you’re a Star Wars fan, is seeing Count Dooku many years before he would get to be that character. Sir Christopher Lee plays the antagonist, Francisco Scaramanga, whose pistol is just as unique as Count Dooku’s lightsaber hilt.

This film is also the only one in the series where a side character that actively contributes to the plot is a dwarf.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977):

The British and Soviet spies find out that they are looking for the same person, believing along the way that each other is the problem.

As the saying goes, the enemy of your enemy has great potential in being your friend. Karl Stromberg’s plans to start World War III are defeated, although he nearly succeeded, as nuclear warheads were launched only to end up destroying each other in flight.

Moonraker (1979):

Tim Curry once said that he would go to the one place not corrupted by capitalism: space. Unfortunately for him, villain Hugo Drax made sure capitalism would get him and his plan there.

Drax actor Michael Lonsdale, who had an extensive French film career along with what he has done in English (including Moonraker), passed away on September 21st.

For Your Eyes Only (1981):

The concept of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” could not be more true in Roger Moore’s 1981 appearance as Bond. He unknowingly works with his enemy, Aristotle Kristatos, who only allows the relationship to happen because of his plan to dispose of Bond at the right moment.

Bond’s “enemy,” Columbo, turns out to be the person he needs to work with if he has any hope of securing the ATAC device.

With Kristatos about to conduct the handoff with the Soviets at the end of the film (as the ATAC is a British device), Bond is able to acquire it just seconds before the handoff and eliminates the value of the ATAC by destroying it.

The Soviets’ reaction illustrates the relationship that Bond has built over the past several films with General Gogol, as the two mitigate Cold War tensions whenever possible.

As a whole, For Your Eyes Only arguably has some of the most enjoyable side characters in the entire franchise, at least in regard to allies, whether it be Columbo and his pistachios or Melina Havelock and her crossbow. Watch it this James Bond Day to decide for yourself.

Octopussy (1983):

It goes without saying that the film’s title automatically catches one’s attention. Like Pussy Galore from Goldfinger, there is a female character that also has a name with the word “pussy” in it: Octopussy, the cult leader.

For obvious safety reasons, do not let an octopus make contact with your face. In fact, that rule applies to virtually every sea animal, especially nowadays.

If you are fond of the performing arts, you ought to pay attention to the second half of this film, as well as how it is foreshadowed in the beginning sequence.

A View to a Kill (1985):

There isn’t a better Bond film for 007 Day to encourage you to think about Silicon Valley, given that it’s the setting. Christopher Walken remains mysterious as usual with his character Max Zorin, while Dolph Lundgren makes his film debut in a minor role.

A monopoly in big tech, or in any industry, for that matter, should not be held with open arms for Americans, yet progress so far this century makes it appear that this direction is being taken.

Duran Duran’s theme song for the film is arguably one of the best in the entire series; Americans, in general, seemed to think so, with the song going to #1 on the Billboard charts.

The Timothy Dalton Years — Perhaps the Coldest Bond of Them All

The Living Daylights (1987):

The ideal way to lure you in here is the fact that a-ha (the creators of your good old favorite “Take On Me”) wrote the title track for Dalton’s debut as Bond.

The film is the only one in the series where Bond slips in a war that was active at the time: the Soviet-Afghan War, which would go on for another two years after the release of the film.

Licence to Kill (1989):

Bond has his license to kill revoked in this film due to an infraction, but decides to pretend that he has it anyway. The antagonist, played by Robert Davi, will look quite familiar to those who have watched Die Hard, as this film was released the year after Bruce Willis’ compelling debut as John McClane.

It is also the only film in the series where Bond fights a cartel, in contrast to other kinds of criminal organizations, and makes an engaging addition to your Global James Bond Day bingeing.

The Pierce Brosnan Years:

GoldenEye (1995): 

GoldenEye was meant to be Dalton’s third Bond film, but it took so long to make that the role shifted to Pierce Brosnan. Thus, the Brosnan era was in full swing.

What better way to honor 007 Day than by watching Brosnan’s first Bond film as he saves the earth from a fatal space weapon?

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997):

This film is particularly interesting because the plot surrounds a media company’s broadcasting rights in China; it is worth making a comparison to the current day, as companies like Disney seek the approval and happiness of China as much as possible.

The World Is Not Enough (1999):

If you pay attention carefully, you will notice that this phrase is used all the way back in Lazenby’s film. The joke in the conversation where this phrase is used points to Bond’s lifestyle.

Many of the Bond films have a healthy reminder that the friends you make along the way always have a purpose, and it’s in your best interest to allow them to display their higher competence for the skill required in the given situation.

For example, Dr. Christmas Jones, who has to be one of my favorite allies in the whole series, has a nuclear physicist background that allows her to not only defuse a nuclear bomb in a tunnel but also do so while moving at 80 miles per hour.

And because being in confined spaces once is not enough, the final combat scene takes place inside a submarine. Your October 5th is not complete without the protagonists’ courage and skill that James Bond Day treasures.

Die Another Day (2002):

Madonna seeming to have little to no prior songwriting experience for this film’s theme song, even after so many years in the industry, is a surprise — just like quite a few other things in the film. It is technically the first film where an entire country, North Korea, is treated as the villain.

The Daniel Craig Years — the Noticeably Shorter and Also Blonde Guy:

Casino Royale (2006):

The remake of the non-EON Casino Royale served as Daniel Craig’s Bond debut. Some may remember the film all too well for the torture scene in which Bond is ironically saved by someone that he must kill at the end of the film.

Chronologically, the film is meant to take place at the earlier parts of Bond’s career, but technological progress and the number of films in the series at this point make it appear otherwise.

Quantum of Solace (2008):

There literally is not a better film to talk about fire safety with, as Bond nearly dies after trapping himself in a burning building.

While Bond films tend to have impressive environments, this film is noticeably dull and overall the least impressive of the Craig films, which probably explains all the times that it randomly happened to be on television.

Skyfall (2012):

With the fate of Judi Dench’s M proving that “I’m fine” is one of the greatest common lies of all time, the best thing you can do is acquire as many details as you can for a high-stakes situation, and perhaps even treat it like an L.A. Noire case, if it comes to that.

It is interesting to note that Adele released her 2012 song of the same name, better known as the film’s theme song, on October 5th to celebrate James Bond Day.

Spectre (2015):

A lesson that stands out the most in this film is that there will always be times where you cause pain and suffering to people you know because one course of action was considered better than the other; it is a deep test of your moral consciousness.

On the other hand, doing good things for one person can be the same as doing bad things for another, which sparks an endless line of ethics questions, such as what can even be considered as justice and goodwill.

No Time to Die (2021):

The title speaks for itself; if one was to die, they would not be able to see the film. Bond can’t afford to die either, so I look forward to seeing what is offered for the end of the Craig era.

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Culture

A New Home for Asian American Representation in Film

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Kelly Marie Tran on MTV International.
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After the onslaught of negative reactions to Mulan (2020), Disney’s recent film announcements offer new hope for Asian representation in the entertainment industry. From Raya and the Last Dragon to Shang-Chi: The Legend of the Ten Rings, Disney has opened up a larger space for Asian Americans to shine, but can they do it right this time? Here are a few movies that offer a new home for Asian American representation in film. 

Mulan in Crisis 

Over quarantine, Disney+ users dreamed about the promise of greater authenticity and Chinese representation in the live-action of Mulan. The film had an aggressive campaign of staying true to the original ballad of Mulan, and established a more serious approach than its animated companion. 

Soon after its release, however, audiences were sorely met with lackluster characterization and collapsing themes of Asian female empowerment. In addition to the outrage concerning main actress Yifei Liu’s support of Hong Kong police, Mulan (2020) suffered from its generalization of Chinese history and glorification of outdated values. 

An overwhelming backlash, in this case, was inevitable. The Asian American community responded with a plethora of media criticizing Disney’s failures with Mulan

As Disney enters a new era in the streaming industry, however, there has been some hope for growth in its relationship with Asian representation. 

Disney Plus on all platforms.
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Raya the First 

Though some have pointed out its stylistic similarity to Avatar: The Last Airbender, many others have applauded Raya and the Last Dragon for its introduction of Southeast Asian representation into the animated sphere. The new film portrays Raya, a fictional Southeast Asian warrior princess, who must search for the last dragon in order to save her world. 

Throughout its trailer, Raya and the Last Dragon hints at a variety of Southeast Asian cultures. Producers have claimed inspiration from countries such as Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and others, but many viewers have recognized the film’s direct representation of Filipino design and culture.

While the ability to openly point out such specific cultural moments paves an optimistic path, another question arises in Disney’s choice for a film that works to “blend Southeast Asian cultures” rather a distinct country. This particularly speaks to the ways in which Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander communities are too often consolidated as one culture. Whereas films like Mulan enjoy the cultural specificity of being Chinese, Moana and now Raya and the Last Dragon must settle for a more generic representation of being “Southeast Asian” or “Pacific Islander”, as opposed to Filipino or Tongan. 

2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition law protest with an ambulance driving through a crowd of people.
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This also comes with the replacement of half-Filipina Cassie Steele with Vietnamese Kelly Marie Tran. While Raya and the Last Dragon has been largely recognized for its distinctive Filipino references, the film continues to largely err on the side of mixing (and potentially confusing) a variety of Southeast Asian creatives. 

In the midst of such a struggle, however, Raya and the Last Dragon nevertheless represents the beginning of Southeast Asian involvement in the film industry, with hopes for more to come. 

Shang-Chi and the Legend of Yellow Peril 

Marvel’s latest Shang-Chi: The Legend of the Ten Rings also provides a new avenue for Asian representation, especially in the superhero realm. 

Simu Liu, set to play Shang-Chi, has been a longtime favorite in the Asian American film industry. From acting in short films with Wong Fu Productions to playing the sweet but arrogant Jung on Kim’s Convenience, Liu is a familiar face in the Asian American community and reflects their desire for diversity on camera. 

However, there is hesitation about rehashing the damaging Asian stereotypes from the original Shang-Chi comics. Inspired by the age of martial arts films, Shang-Chi echoes the era of Fu Manchu and Yellow Peril, when Asians were essentially characterized as purely evil

Fu Manchu represented the culmination of America’s anti-Asian, anti-immigrant anxieties and fears. In the comics, Shang-Chi is the son of Fu Manchu and equips his martial arts to destroy his father. Such a relationship spoke to the utilization of the “best” parts of Asian culture (a.k.a martial arts) to take down the “worst” parts (acting or looking “too Asian”). This divisiveness ultimately denounces an Asian identity, uplifting only that which is “best” in the eyes of others. 

Knowing this history, Shang-Chi holds the potential to backslide in the same ways that Mulan (2020) did, by focusing too much on a presumed perspective of “authenticity”. In the making of Shang-Chi, Disney must pull from contemporary Asian America, rather than its past.

Simu Liu speaking at Comic Con San Diego.
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As Simu Liu has pointed out, however, there is hope! Both Shang-Chi: The Legend of the Ten Rings and Raya and the Last Dragon have released their massive inclusion of a largely Asian and Asian American cast and creative team. This means that, in contrast to Mulan’s implementation of solely Asian actors, these two new films will be written and creatively produced by the same people it seeks to represent. In this way, Disney is truly learning from its failure with the live-action Mulan (2020). Though there has been some early criticism for the next two films, a positive anticipation flourishes in Disney’s changes for greater Asian representation in film and media.

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Different Ways to celebrate Christmas-Comparing Christmas Traditions Across the Globe

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Four girls holding candles, singing Christmas carols.
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Christmas caroling, gingerbread houses, eggnog and candy canes are an indication that the holiday season is upon us. In the U.S. and certain other countries, we have traditions like setting out milk and cookies for Santa, lining our mantels with stockings, and hanging wreaths and bright lights outside. But many other countries around the world have their own unique traditions to celebrate this most wonderful time of the year. Let’s take a look at some of the different ways other cultures embrace the magic of Christmas. 

Region of Puerto Rico 

In Puerto Rico, Christmas is an extravagant, go-all-out type of holiday. Christmas celebrations start the day after Thanksgiving and last until the beginning of January. An important holiday tradition is caroling, referred to as a parranda, meaning the gift of music. The parranda isn’t your average Christmas caroling excursion; there are maracas, guitars and tamboras involved, making it all the more festive. In many cities, fireworks are set off each night in celebration. Some special holiday foods in Puerto Rico include lechón asado (a pork dish), tembleque (coconut pudding), and coquito (a coconut-rum drink).

Australia

Christmas is a holiday that is typically associated with winter. But in Australia, Christmas takes place in the summer season, swapping snowmen for sandmen. The beach is a very popular destination on Christmas day, filled with live music, barbeques, and decorated trees in the sand. If you’re lucky, you may even see Santa Claus, better known as Father Christmas in Australia, surfing the waves. Australians also celebrate the holiday season by gathering in large groups to sing Christmas carols with candles in hand. This tradition is known as ‘Carols by Candlelight.’

Finland

Rovaniemi, located in Lapland, Finland, is a city noted for its holiday spirit. In fact, Rovaniemi is the official hometown of Santa Claus. Santa’s post office (it’s a real post office) is open year-round, collecting letters from thousands of children. The subpolar climate of Rovaniemi makes the city a winter wonderland for several months. Christmas theme parks filled with reindeer sleigh rides and Santa and his elves make for a wonderful holiday experience.

Mexico

In Mexico, the Las Posadas celebration begins on December 16th and ends on Christmas Eve. Communities dress up and reenact Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem in search of shelter. There’s music, parties, and holiday foods such as buñuelos, a dessert made of fried dough and topped with cinnamon sugar or syrup. On Christmas Eve, the party culminates with the breaking of piñatas.

A tree ornament in the form of a globe.
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Germany

Germany has a rich history of Christmas traditions, some more terrifying than others. In Germany and some other European countries, the Krampus, an evil demon-goat creature, is rumored to be Santa’s evil relative. Krampus punishes children who misbehave, and if you’re in Germany, you may see people dressed up as Krampus wandering through the streets and scaring bystanders. On a happier note, Christmas markets and holiday shopping are all the rage in Germany. In the city of Nuremberg, Christkindlesmarkt is a famously large Christmas market, attracting millions of visitors each year. Famous holiday foods at this market include gingerbread, bratwursts, and fruitcake. 

Japan

Although only a small fraction of the population of Japan is Christian, the spirit of Christmas is still in the air. In Japan, millions of families celebrate Christmas with a special tradition: a chicken dinner, typically from KFC. Santa Claus has been traded in for Colonel Sanders. In some ways, Christmas in Japan is celebrated in the same way that we celebrate Valentine’s Day. Rather than spending Christmas day with family, couples go out for romantic dinners. 

Netherlands

In Amsterdam, Santa Claus is not the only one to deliver presents — Sinterklaas, a Santa-like Nordic figure, also distributes gifts to children. Sinterklass sails from Spain over to the Netherlands to deliver presents on December 5. Santa then arrives on Christmas day to fill childrens’ shoes with gifts. Another important Christmas tradition in the Netherlands is gourmetten, a big dinner where meats and vegetables are grilled at the table, and underneath the grill or hot plate, tiny pans filled with sauces and cheeses are broiled. These dinners somewhat resemble an indoor barbeque.

Iceland

In Iceland, the Yule Lads, 13 mischievous troll-like figures, deliver gifts to children or give them potatoes if they have been naughty that year. Starting on December 12th, a different lad visits each night leading up to Christmas. Children leave their shoes out on windowsills in anticipation of the Yule Lads’ visits. Grýla, the mother of the Yule Lads, is a scary troll rumored to eat misbehaving children. 

While many Christmas celebrations and family traditions are on hold due to Covid, it’s always nice to reminisce on the pre-Covid holiday seasons, as we hope to resume the celebrations next year.

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College Voices

Hanukkah: 8 Things You Might Not Know About the Eight Nights

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A closeup of candles burning.

It’s finally the holiday season here in the US, and all the signs are upon us. Christmas music is playing in most public spaces on the rare occasions we leave our homes, decorations and Christmas trees are going up in private and public spaces, and anticipation of that one magical night is high. Or, it is if you’re Christian.

Jewish people living in the United States, while the world around them gears up for Christmas, celebrate Hanukkah while simultaneously weathering the yearly bombardment of questions and assumptions about what the holiday is like.

There are a lot of misconceptions about what Hanukkah is actually like from people outside the Jewish community, so to help with that confusion, here’s a list of common mistakes people make about how to celebrate Hanukkah, and some general fun facts about a common Jewish holiday.

1. It’s Not “Jewish Christmas”

This is likely self-explanatory, but it’s important to cover. Because of its closeness to Christmas during the year, Hanukkah has become perceived as the “Jewish Christmas”, a holiday with equivalent importance to Christmas, which is not true at all. Christmas is one of the most important holidays in the Christian tradition, commemorating the birth of Jesus. Hanukkah is not on par with that importance.

2. It’s Actually a Minor Holiday

This is the big one that trips non-Jewish people up a lot: Hanukkah is not a big deal at all for Jewish people. For Jews, all the important holidays are tied directly to holy or important days, like Rosh Hashanah, which celebrates the Jewish New Year; and Yom Kippur, which is a day of mourning and remembrance. Hanukkah has no associated holiness to it, making it a very minor event in the Jewish Calendar.

A menorah with two candles burning, one in the middle and one on the far right.
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3. Hanukkah is About a Rebellion and a Miracle

Part of the reason why Hanukkah is actually not very important is that the story it commemorates is not part of important Jewish traditions like The Torah. Hanukkah celebrates the rebellion and reclamation of Jewish land and temples by a band of rebels known as the Maccabees. Once the rebellion succeeded and the temple was reclaimed, the Jewish people wanted to relight the menorah (that branching candle holder that’s associated with Hanukkah) inside to reconsecrate the temple, but all the special oil they burned in the menorah was destroyed. They only found a tiny jar which held barely enough oil to last a night. Amazingly though, the small amount of oil burned for eight days and eight nights, giving the Jewish people time to make more oil. This is the miracle of Hanukkah, and why Jews celebrate by lighting Hanukkiah for eight nights. Pretty interesting, huh?

4. There Aren’t Christmas Levels of Gifts

This isn’t true for all families, but for the most part, Hanukkah is a more low-key affair than Christmas. Most Jewish people give smaller gifts across the whole of the eight nights, with maybe a few larger items in there, but not an overflow of gifts every night.

5. Shockingly Enough, Gift Giving Isn’t Even Traditional

This might be surprising even to Jewish-Americans, but gift giving during Hanukkah is not actually traditional! There is no significance to gift giving like there is to other parts of the Hanukkah tradition, and in fact, it’s almost entirely a Jewish-American behavior. Why? Because of Christmas. Sometime around the 1920s, American Jews began buying gifts for their children to celebrate Hanukkah so they wouldn’t feel left out when all their peers got Christmas gifts, so it’s largely an American invention.

6. But Eating Fried Food is Traditional

Everyone always focuses on gifts and lighting candles, but it’s interesting to note that another tradition in Hanukkah is eating fried food. “Latkes”, a kind of fried potato pancake, are associated closely with the holiday, but they’re actually important because they’re fried. The tradition relates back to the story of Hanukkah and the oil that burned for eight nights. To honor this, Jews eat fried food like latkes and “sufganiyot”, fried donuts that are often jelly-filled. That’s one thing Christmas and Hanukkah do have in common: they’re both incredibly healthy holidays. 

A large sculpture of a menorah outside in the snow.
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7. Blue and White Decorations Aren’t, Though

If you’ve ever seen any decorations for Hanukkah you’ve likely seen strings of blue and white lights or decorations, as opposed to the normal red and green of Christmas. Surprisingly, though, there’s actually no association between Hanukkah and blue and white. Blue and white are important colors for Jews, as the traditional prayer shawl called a “tallit” is usually white with stripes of blue on the ends. Hanukkah decorations in blue and white are another tradition that started in America because of Christmas. To not feel left out of the Christmas spirit, some Jews began decorating with blue and white, but outside the US, this isn’t a common behavior at all.

8. Hanukkah is “The Festival of Lights,” but ‘Hanukkah’ Means Something Different

Finally, it’s important to think about the most important part of Hanukkah. The lighting of the menorah is the most crucial tradition of Hanukkah and the main way Jewish people the world over celebrate the holiday, which is why the holiday is affectionately called The Festival of Lights. The word ‘Hanukkah’, however, actually means ‘rededication’ or ‘consecration’, to commemorate the consecration of the temple by the lighting of the menorah in the Hanukkah story.

In 2020, Hanukkah runs from December 10th to 18th, so if you know anyone Jewish who observes the holiday, wish them a happy holiday and a good new year to come. Hopefully, you understand at least one Jewish tradition a little bit better now.

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