Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a Jewish festival celebrated the world over, and celebrators in New Mexico were treated to festivities with a difference this year.
In order to mark the last night of the eight-day long festival, the Chabad of New Mexico organised a special night glow using hot air balloons and a menorah-like structure to evoke the iconic candle-lighting ritual of the celebration.
Hanukkah means ‘dedicated’, and the celebration usually takes place at the beginning of December. It marks the Maccabean victory over King Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 164 BCE and the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. After the victory over Antiochus, the temple was cleansed. As part of the cleansing, one bottle of oil was found, which held only enough to burn candles for one day, but miraculously lasted for eight days. It is this that the Hanukkah festival recalls in the eight-day candle lighting ceremony.
In New Mexico, the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Park provided the setting for the free festivities, boasting the unique sight of a Hanukkah menorah formed from hot air balloons. Visitors were able to enjoy live music and traditional latkes and drinks, whilst gifts were provided for the children.
This 6th annual Hanukkah Night Glow was able to bring together great celebrations of local culture, from the festivals of lights through to the strong ties that Albuquerque has with hot air ballooning. If you want your own taste of ballooning magic, hot air balloon flights over Bath, Bristol and the southwest can be had.