Today we begin celebrating Hanukkah in Divaland. Many people throughout the world celebrate Hanukkah, and we have some very special Diva Dwellers, friends, and neighbors who celebrate Hanukkah as well. Seattle does not have a huge Jewish population (according to the University of Washington, 2-4% of the greater Seattle area is Jewish). So if you don’t know all of the details of Hanukkah, we are here with our wonderful friend and Diva Dweller Mia to illuminate what this holiday is all about. Mia is also sharing her super fun and unique “Latkes & Vodkas” tradition, special family traditions, and the rich history of Hanukkah.
Celebrating Hanukkah in Divaland with Mia
If you are new to the beautiful tradition of celebrating Hanukkah, our Diva Dweller and friend Mia is sharing a behind-the-scenes look at her Hanukkah celebration. Below is her story of Hanukkah in Divaland.
How do you know the Divas?
I met Kim and Chavi on a cold-ass weekend in January 2007 when I was visiting my dear friend, Shane, whom I’ve known since 8th grade and is another Diva Dweller. Kim and Chavi were an integral part of his community up here. Thus, I HAD to meet them when I came up to visit. It turns out we all like each other very much. When I moved up to Seattle in 2009 it was a natural progression for Kim to help me find my first condo. I think she and Chavi had just started to venture into Team Diva together. It’s been really fun watching my friends grow such an awesome business.
Tell us about your household and why they are quintessential Diva Dwellers?
My “household” consists of myself and my two cats, Riley & Harlow. (See pictures.) I work so my cats can have a better life. They love their little condo in lower Queen Anne.
When I think of the “quintessential Diva Dweller”, I think of someone interesting and kind with a lot of depth and insights, someone who cares about other people and is super fun to hang out with. As an early Diva Dweller, I like to think I check all of these boxes. Once a Diva, always a Diva.
How do you celebrate this holiday in your family?
The celebration has morphed over the years. I remember my mother always having big Hanukkah parties at her house when I was growing up. It was full of our people, both Jewish and Non-Jewish, who were important to our tribe. My mom made traditional Hanukkah foods like brisket and latkes with applesauce and sour cream. She invited friends to bring their menorahs over. We would all light out menorahs together. That is a special childhood memory for me.
When I graduated from college, my menorah came with me. I continued the prayers and the lighting of the candles on my own, with phone calls to my family who lived out of state. I learned to experience Hanukkah in a different way in my 20s: a combination of Judaism and an excuse to get super dressed up and go to a bar in West Hollywood with my people. It was through those people I came to experience my first “Latkes & Vodkas” party, where everyone brings a vodka to taste, we eat festive foods, and light a menorah together. It was super fun.
A few years later, when I moved to Seattle and had my first home to decorate, I decided it was time for me to start my own tradition and host my own “Latkes and Vodkas” party. It was great fun! I remember my friends pushing the furniture back and doing the smallest hora I’ve ever seen in the middle of my living room. “Latkes & Vodkas” has become a tradition over the years.
Do you have special family traditions during this season?
Families exchange presents after lighting the menorah. Children are traditionally given “gelt” or money. Now that Hanukkah has become commercialized, it’s common for kids to make a Hanukkah list similar to that of Christmas. They still get “gelt” which is now in the form of chocolate coins to be used during a game of dreidel. More importantly, it’s traditional to light the menorah every night at sunset. On the first night, you light two candles: the shamash and the first night candle. On the second night, you add a third candle so you mark the first two nights and the shamash.
This is repeated for 8 nights so on the last night, you have 9 candles lit. Interestingly, you are only supposed to use a match to light the shamash. You then use the shamash to light all the other candles. The idea is that light comes from one source but is ultimately transferred and doubled. If all those candles then became a shamash and lit their own menorahs, how much light would there be?
Part of any Jewish holiday comes with reflection on what it means. Historically, Hanukkah marks the celebration of the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in the Second Century B.C. It was during another time when Israel was struggling to exist. The holiday marks a time when a small group of Jewish soldiers, the Maccabees, successfully defeated a larger army under Antiochus IV and reclaimed the temple. During the temple’s purifying ceremony, there was only enough sacred oil to last one day. However, a miracle occurred and the wicks remained burning for 8 nights. Many traditional Hanukkah foods are fried in oil to remember the miracle that happened there.
Spiritually, Hanukkah is a time to celebrate light in the darkness. Specifically, there is a teaching to be the Shamash in the world i.e. bring light to others. This goes along with a Jewish theme in general that Jews believe they were born with the sole purpose to make the world a better place than when they got here. The celebration of light is key. There is so much hardship in the world right now. We can use all the light we can get!
Why is this year’s celebration extra special?
This year’s celebration is “special” because it starts on the Sunday right after Thanksgiving. I definitely need to speak with lunar management about this. It’s going to be a quick turnaround this year. Out with the turkey, in with the Hanukkah decorations. Further, there is a possibility now to host more people in my home again. It’s nice to feel a semi-return to normalcy.
Thank You For Celebrating Hanukkah in Divaland, Mia!
We are so glad that our Diva Dwellers, families, and friends can gather more and more in person this year to celebrate Hanukkah and other holidays. Thank you again to Mia for taking the time to give us an inside look at what it’s like to celebrate this holiday of light and miracles!
Here are a few other stories of our Diva Dwellers celebrating the season:
- Celebrating Diwali in Divaland
- National Take a Hike Day with Angie
- Latkes and Vodka for Hanukkah with Mia
- The Hayes Celebrate Kwanza in Singapore
Stay tuned as we celebrate more adventures in Divaland through this beautiful season.