Winter Holiday Study 1&2
ing about the different winter holidays around the world and of different cultures and it's very, very, very interesting to say the least. At this time I have learned about Bodhi day (A Buddhist celebration that was on the 8th) and Hanukkah (A Jewish celebration that consists of eight days, which began this year on the 9th). They are both so very interesting, and I want to share my new found knowledge with you all.
Bodhi Day: Is the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day, that the historical Buddha (Siddhartha Gautauma) experienced enlightenment. According to tradition/legend/history, Siddhartha had recently forsaken years of extreme ascetic practices (depriving himself of worldly pleasures and instead pursued spiritual pursuits of religion) and resolved to sit under a peepal tree (Ficus religiosa) and simply meditate until he found the root of suffering, and how to liberate oneself from it. There a several different versions of what happened during his hours of meditation. Some stories say that he made a great vow to the God/Goddess (?) Nirvana and Earth to find the root of suffering, or die trying. Other sources say that while he was meditating the god/demon of illusion Mara (which literally means "Destroyer" in Sanskrit) tried to tempt and harass him. Other say that he just entered deeper and deeper into his state of meditation, confronting the nature of the self.
He went through three stages of his enlightenment meditation:
1. During the first watch of the night, the Buddha discovered all of his past lives in the cycle of rebirth, realizing that he had been born and reborn countless times before.
2. During the second watch, the Buddha discovered the Law of Karma, and the importance of living by the Eightfold Path (You should so totally look this up!)
3. During the third watch, the Buddha discovered the Four Noble Truths, finally reaching Nirvana.
In his words: “ My heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, was released from the fermentation of sensuality, released from the fermentation of becoming, released from the fermentation of ignorance. With release, there was the knowledge, 'Released.' I discerned that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.”
traditions agree that as the morning star rose in the sky in the early morning, the third watch of the night, Siddhartha finally found the answers he sought and became Enlightened. Having done so, Siddhartha now became a Buddha or "Awakened One".
After learning this, we had craft time and so we made sugar cookies cut out into hearts (the shape of the Peepal tree which Buddha sat under) and ate a lunch of rice in milk (a morning tradition for Bodhi day).
Of course we have gotten all my information off of Wikipedia (THE BEST INFORMATION SITE IN THE WHOLE WORLD, I personally think), and I know that a lot of teachers dislike Wiki. So if you have information to share with my family and me, we would be glad to hear/read it!
Well, with this holiday we knew quite a lot about, since we used to practice Hanukkah annually for many years. But today I learned a lot more than I had before. Now hearing the story of the emperor who destroyed Jerusalem and wreaked havoc on the Jews. His name was Antiochus IV who was quite evil to say the least. In his family there was a large struggle with who was on the throne and who would succeed after the ruler who was on the throne. For a while Antiochus IV was kept captive (as a boy I think?) by the roman republic until whoever was in charge, took him out of captivity and put Antiochus IV's nephew in his place (???). There was a long struggle of men and people who thought they deserved to be on the throne. In the end Antiochus IV came into power at 18 years old (Sheesh, can you imagine?).
There was this funny story of his that stood out to me the most. There was a time when Antiochus IV was battling with Ptolemy of Egypt and both were going back and forth about who owned Syria (I think?). So Antiochus IV marches out with this HUGE army (going towards Ptolemy in preemptive attack; before Ptolemy could attack him), when this elderly commander from the Roman Republic (hehehe) is standing in front of his path. The commander hands him a tablet to Antiochus IV and says that he will do nothing until Antiochus IV reads it. So the tablet says that if Antiochus IV attacks Egypt the Roman Republic will attack him (YES!). Antiochus IV tries to stall, saying that he will talk with his councilmen. The old commander takes his walking stick and drawls a circle around Antiochus IV, telling him that if he, the king, will give his answer now. That is how we get the saying "Drawing a line in the sand" neat huh? Antiochus IV shakes the commanders hand in the end and retreats back to his empire.
Okay, now I have a horror story of Antiochus IV which just shook me the most. So Antiochus IV had conquered Jerusalem and had put his own Roman priests in the holly Jewish temples, then Antiochus IV went to war and there were rumors that he was dead. The Jews, thinking he was dead, defeated the Roman soldiers that remained in their city and put their own priest (which was an actual traditional and which followed all the Jewish rules and regulations so that he was really holly) and put their temple into its original holiness. Well... Antiochus IV came back and found that his priest guy was gone, he imaged that the Jews had rebelled. He was enraged and slaughtered jews!!!! Men, women children, it didn't matter. Jews were killed in the streets, in their homes. He slaughtered 4,000 oops, sorry I got that wrong, it was actually, 40,000 and the other 40,000 he sold to slavery. He put his own priest in the temple and beguiled it with the roman gods, bringing in pagan statues of Zeus and had pagan practices which were banned by the Jews. Pigs were brought and slaughtered in the temple (pigs were absolutely the most uncleanest animal to the Jews) which was forbidden and I'm sure human sacrifice happened inside the temple as well.
The Jewish religion was banned and whoever practiced it would be killed. The worst of the stories was of two mothers who circumcised their babies (which was a religious thing).Those women were paraded around the city with their killed babies tied around their necks, and were forced to walk off the city walls. How awful is that? That is horrendous!
If you do not know the full history and story of Hanukkah, you should read in the bible Maccabees that should tell the full story.
For our activity for this we were going to make Latkes, but instead just sung a Hanukkah song:
"Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah, come light the menorah
Let's have a party, we'll all dance the Hora
Gather 'round the table, we'll give you a treat
Dreydles to play with and latkes to eat.
And while we are playing the candles are burning low
One for each night they shed a sweet
Light to remind us of days long ago
One for each night they shed a sweet
Light to remind us of days long ago."
Thanks for reading, hopefully you learned something! May your holidays be blessed whatever you’re celebrating ;)