One more day! Hanukkah begins tomorrow night!
Blue, silver and white, the classic colors of Hanukkah. I have always loved this color combination. It's clean. It's wintery. And it's a sophisticated alternative to the classic red and green which is associated with Christmas. For me, it's become a "holiday palette cleanser," so to speak. So from where (and when) do the Hanukkah colors derive?
According to a 2018 article in Time Magazine (click here), Hanukkah traditionally was not a major religious celebration since the Hanukkah story is not part of the Hebrew Bible. In the story, the Jews were at war with the Greeks (who were trying to "Hellenize" the Jews). A group of Jews, called the Maccabees, revolted and took back the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (which had been defiled by those who worshiped Zeus within it). The rededication of their temple to God ("hanukkah" means "rededication") required the lighting of the menorah. Alas, the Maccabees only had one day's worth of olive oil for fuel. But, thanks to God, one day's supply of oil lasted a full eight days—a Hanukkah miracle! The Hanukkah tale became a story of Jewish resilience, survival and obedience to God. But it had never been a particularly religious celebration (as it was not mandated in the scripture). Its popularity only took-off in the second half of the Twentieth Century (mostly starting in the U.S.).
In America, during the post-WW2 growth of the middle class, many American Jews began to move out of the cities and into the new suburbs (like many other Americans returning from war). This presented a conundrum: how does one maintain one's cultural and religious identity while living in a more diverse environment? And how are Jewish parents to instill their culture in their children—who are surrounded by a dominant Christian culture (which includes Christmas)? One solution was to expand the celebration of Hanukkah as a worthy Jewish winter holiday—an alternative joyful occasion for Jewish children. Hallmark Cards, in Kansas City, Missouri, stepped-up and began to produce Hanukkah greeting cards and other party supplies. They began using blue and white—perhaps because these were the colors of the Israeli flag—and this color theme took root. Additionally, Israel had just become a sovereign nation—thus the Hanukkah story (and colors) dovetailed with another example of Jewish self-determination and independence. In time, more blue and white merchandise was produced: decorations, wrapping paper, candles, string-lights, holiday signage and more. Commercial advertising and product packaging also reinforced the blue and white Hanukkah colors.
Like the Hanukkah color palette, the vase above is clean, wintery and sophisticated. It was made by Stangl in the 1930's and exhibits wonderful Art Deco elan. It would stand beautifully on your Hanukkah table or as part of a larger collection of blue and white pottery. Click on the photo above to learn more about it.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248