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The Artistry of Faith and Culture

Holiday at the Arboretum

The Artistry of Faith and Culture

Explore the artistry of the season’s three holidays. The DeGolyer House is transformed to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa in a collaborative community-sourced exhibit.

November 10-December 31

Saturday–Sunday | 10am–4pm; Monday–Wednesday Evenings | 6–9pm

About

Explore the artistry of the season’s three holidays. The DeGolyer House is elaborately transformed by renowed designer, Michael Hamilton, to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa in a collaborative community-sourced exhibit.

This exhibit prominently features the world holidays that celebrate the diversity of the holiday season in our city.   

It also highlights the festival of lights, Diwali, which occurs in late October.


2022 Community Committee

Designer

Michael Hamilton

Committee

Monica Daucourt – Texas Jewish Arts Association
Kimberly Kort – Texas Jewish Arts Association
Kevin Felder – Former City Councilman
Almas Muscatwalla – Thanks-giving Foundation Interfaith Council
Akwete Tyehimba – Pan-African Connection owner
Lucy Houston – Ed.D, CEO and Educational Consultant, Learning in a Cultural Context, LLC
Chat P Ganesh – Vice President, Business Development & Director DFW Indian Cultural Society
Shraddha Dharia – Artist Director, thinkIndia Foundation
K.K. (Ravi) Srinivasan – President, thinkIndia Foundation


Hanukkah

Chanukah (Hanukkah) is the Jewish eight-day, wintertime “festival of lights,” celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting.The Hebrew word Chanukah means “dedication,” and is thus named because it celebrates the rededication of the the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C.  In the second century BCE, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who tried to force the people of Israel to accept Greek culture/ religion and beliefs instead of the observance and belief in G‑d. Against all odds, a small band of faithful but poorly armed Jews, led by Judah the Maccabee, defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of God.

When they sought to light the Temple’s Menorah (the seven-branched candelabrum), they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks. Miraculously, they lit the menorah and the one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.

When is it celebrated? What dates in 2022?

Chanukah (Hanukkah) 2022 starts at nightfall on December 18, 2022 and ends with nightfall on December 26, 2022, beginning on the Hebrew calendar date of 25 Kislev, and lasting for eight days. Chanukah is always on the 25th day of Kislev of the Jewish calendar. The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, which means it’s based upon the cycles of the moon

What art symbolizes the tradition?

Hanukkah Art  centers around the following in 2D or 3D, glass, clay, metal, music, dance, and even cooking: 

1.     The Menorah ( the hanukkiah), the nine-branched candelabra which is lit each night, and can often be seen in house windows.

2.     The Shammash, the ninth candle (placed in the center of the menorah) is used to light all the others as the blessings is said

3.     The  dreidel,  or sevivon, a game,  is a type of spinning top which has Hebrew letters inscribed on each of the four sides. Together, the letters create an acronym for the phrase ‘A great miracle happened there’ (Nes Gadol Haya Sham). This is a reference to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Each player begins with the same number of items (chocolate coins, nuts sweets or similar), two of which are placed in the centre.Taking it in turns, each player spins the dreidel. 

4.     Hanukkah gelt means ‘Hanukkah money’ in Yiddish. Families often give children chocolate coins as a small present each night, although some might receive real money or other gifts. Art is also centered on the themes of Tzedakah( charity) As rewarding positive behavior and devotion to Torah study, the cash gifts give the children the opportunity to give tzedakah (charity). This has also spawned the phenomenon of foil-covered “chocolate gelt.”

5.     Foods: A type of fried potato pancake known as a latke is particularly popular, as are deep-fried doughnuts filled with fruit jelly;.Beef brisket, Roasted chicken, Kugel ( noodle  or potato  casserole) , Matzo ball soup, Rugelach ( pastry filled with any of the following: raisins, cinnamon, chocolate, poppy seed, fruit preserves, and walnut, Sufganiyot (Jelly-Filled Doughnuts), Challah.( braided egg bread, chocolate,  knishes ( potato filled savory pastry) 

6.     Music: Maoz Tsur  Each night as Jews around the world observe Hanukkah, the eight-day Festival of Lights, the age-old song Maoz Tsur—”Rock of Ages” in Hebrew—is sung after the lighting of the candles on the menorah.Dec 11, 2017

7.    Dance: a dance called the Horah.  Jewish circle dance typically danced to the famous song Hava Nagila. It is traditionally danced at joyous occasions in the Jewish community.

What is Shabbat?

Shabbat (שַׁבָּת; related to Hebrew verb “cease, rest”) Shabbat or Sabbath is the most important ritual observance in Judaism and is the only ritual instituted in the Ten Commandments. It is also the most important special day, even more so than Yom Kippur. Shabbat customs have evolved over the generations to mean unplugging the computer, mindfulness meditation, heightened awareness of beauty and  but remain cherished touchstones of Judaism.

Shabbat is not specifically a day of prayer (Religious Jews pray 3 times a day). Shabbat begins at sunset on Friday and ends the following Saturday night., Shabbat candles are lit and a blessing is recited. It is the seventh day of the Jewish week and is the day of rest and abstention from work as commanded by God. Shabbat involves two interrelated commandments: to remember (zachor) and to observe (shamor).

What art symbolizes the Shabbat tradition?

Shabbat candles: There is artistry around the candle holders (at least 2)

The Dinner table: Usually covered with a special tablecloth (usually white),  set with the best china and silver to honor the Shabbat Queen.

The Color White: The preferred color for the tablecloth as white is the colour of (spiritual) purity and therefore appropriate as the base for what we eat and do,  a reminder that especially on Shabbat we should be spiritually pure.

The Kiddush cup: A special goblet set aside for the blessing of the wine. There is artistry around the cup and its silverwork, glass art, etc.

The Challah: A traditional plaited bread especially baked for Shabbat. There is artistry in embroidered Challah covers, plates, etc.

Kwanzaa

According to Maulana Karenga, the creator of Kwanzaa, it is a cultural synthesis of traditional African and African American cultural values and practices. Kwanzaa was created in the United States in the 1960’s during the era of the civil rights movement.  However, it has become a Pan African celebration.  Kwanza means “first fruits” in Swahili. The United States celebration is denoted with an extra “a.” Kwanzaa was created from elements of  the “first fruits” celebrations practiced throughout continental Africa from ancient Egypt to the Dogan of West Africa.   

What art symbolizes the tradition?

The artifacts of Kwanzaa (Karenga, 2008)

Sankofa Bird

Asante Stool

Traditional African American art

Antique Quits

Antique cast Irons

Heirloom quilt

Rare book

Antique Shackles

Vintage poodle bookends

Traditional African communitarian art 

·          Statues, wood carvings, metal work. 

·          African textiles:  regalia, tablecloth, and wall hangings with artwork that symbolize social status, events, spiritual principles, 

·         The Ahennwa or Akan thone.  A “symbol of national identity, cultural integrity, and rightful governance.” p. 50

·         The Sankofa bird – An Adinkra symbol of West Africa, emphasizes the importance of learning from the past.

·         African Agogo, cowbell – time keeper, usually the lead instrument in the invocation

·         Djemba of West Africa.  Known for a sound that calls the people to gather. It is said to be 400-800 years old and created during the  Malian Empire by the Mande’ people. It is popular in most countries in West Africa and the United States.

·         Shakara – an instrument made from a gourd with netting used to attach cowrie shells and other beads.  Represented the Big Dipper and symbolized freedom for enslaved Africans.

·         African masks have an ancient history in continental Africa.  Most serve as conduits for spirits in various rituals. Masks  are carved from wood with identifiable  tribal featurs.

·         3D holographic fan –  It will display a timeline of African landmarks such as the Pyramids, Nabta Playa of Nubia, images Frederick Douglass, King, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey,  the  Civil Rights Movement, and events such as the election of the first African American President, Barack Obama. 

Artifacts used in the Candle Lighting Ceremony

·         Mazao or crops – represent the historical roots of Kwanzaa.  A holiday that celebrates “the rewards of collective productive labor”

·         Mkeka or mat –  African and African American traditions and history

·         Kinara or candle holder – “our parent people, the continental Africans”

·         Muhinda or  corn –“represents our children and all the hopes and challenges attached to them”

·         Mishumaa Sabaa or the seven candles symbolize the seven principles of the Nguzo Saba; “the heart and soul of Kwanzaa”

·         Kikombe Cha Umoja –  the unity cup used to pour libation and the  cup from which the family and community drinks

·         Zawadi or gifts – “symbolic of the seeds sown by the children, i.e., commitments made and kept”, should always include a book, and heritage symbol

·         Bandera or flag – the national Red, Black, and Green flag bestowed on African American people by Marcus Garvey

·         Poster of the Nguzo Saba or seven principles:  Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination, Ujima (Collective Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith

When is it celebrated? What dates in 2022?

Kwanzaa beings on December 26, 2022 and ends on January 1, 2023.

Christmas

Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25, as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving; completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath; Christmas music and caroling; viewing a Nativity play; an exchange of Christmas cards; church services; a special meal; and the display of a variety of decorations. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore.

When is it celebrated? What dates in 2022?

December 25

What art symbolizes the tradition?

Christmas Tree: Is symbolic of the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ

Christmas Lights: Reminds us that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World

Nativity Scenes: Representation of the birth of Jesus with each element having deeper meanings.

Garlands & Wreaths: Meaning of eternal life, eternal presence of God and the cycle of the seasons

Mistletoe: Represents romance, fertility and vitality

Holly: Is a symbol of Christ’s crown of thorns with the berries a symbol of his blood and the evergreen a metaphor for life after death

Advent Candles: Represent the four weeks of Advent between Thanksgiving and Christmas

Diwali

Diwali is India’s most important festival of the year, a time to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil. Widely observed among over a billion people from a variety of faiths across India and its diaspora, the five days of Diwali are marked by prayer, feasts, fireworks, family gatherings, rangolis (designs made on the floor out of colored sand, powder, rice or flower petals), and charitable giving, centering on traditions such as buying new things and wearing new clothes, and other practices to attract the goodwill of spirits.

Diwali is perhaps best known as a festival of lights. It gets its name from the Sanskrit deepavali, (deepa meaning “lamp” avali, “row”)and is known for the brightly burning clay lamps that celebrants line up outside their homes, representing the inner light that overcomes spiritual ignorance.

Diwali is so widely celebrated – it’s an important religious festival for Hindus, but is also observed among Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists – that it has no single origin story. While the stories differ, they all symbolize the victory of good over evil, the triumph of our own light over our darkness.

When is it celebrated? What dates in 2022?

Diwali is celebrated over 5 days based on the lunisolar Hindu calendar (between the month of Oct and Nov) In 2022 the dates are from October 21st to Oct 25th.

What art symbolizes the tradition?

During Diwali, people wear their finest clothes, illuminate the interior and exterior of their homes with diyas and rangoli, perform worship ceremonies of Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth, light fireworks, and partake in family feasts, where sweets and gifts are shared.

Key Symbols
Diya: Clay and Brass lamps 

Rangoli: Colored sand art in various forms

Food: Specialty desserts and savory items are served

Fireworks: Ward off evil spirits

Flowers: Use to decorate inside and outside of homes

2022 Community Collaborators

Interfaith Council
Pan African Connection
Texas Jewish Arts Association
thinkIndia Foundation

Purchase Original Art from the Exhibit

Select pieces created for this year’s exhibit are available for purchase. A portion of proceeds supports the Dallas Arboretum’s diverse offering of public programs. Art will be available after January 1, 2023.

VIEW AVAILABLE ARTWORK