Category Archives: Shopping

Celebrate the holidays with Eat’n Park’s famous Christmas tree star

The holiday season amps up even more when the Eat’n Park Christmas tree star commercial runs.

Usually during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, too.

If you’re from Western Pennsylvania, you know what I mean.

The adorable little star trying to make its way to the top of the tree, only to miss the mark each time. Then, the tree, itself, gives the star an assist by bending itself down.

And, just like that, Christmas magic!

All the warm and fuzzies. Christmas happy tears.

The story of the tree and star began in 1982 when then-CEO Jim Broadhurst asked the company’s ad agency at the time to come up with a holiday ad that would “last for 20 years,” Eat’n Park says.

Safe to say, the commercial is the gift that keeps on giving, entering its 39th holiday season! (Read more about the star story here.)

Eat’n Park has latched onto the hearts and memories of Western Pennsylvanians and now offers everything from shirts via Steel City Brand (I own like three of these shirts — of the same design) and Eat’n Park’s store (red long, blue long, youth sizes) to video call backgrounds, phone backgrounds and even an Instagram tree/star filter!!

You can get face masks, a mug, a flipbook and gift cards with the tree!

You can go old-school and print and color the tree, too!

If you haven’t seen the commercial yet or just want to watch it again and again and again, here you go:

And, if you are wondering, no, this is not a sponsored post. The Eat’n Park Christmas tree and star are loved so dearly.

Hanukkah: Celebrate the Festival of Lights!

Hanukkah is not one of the most important holidays in Judaism. But it’s certainly the most well-known.

Hanukkah, which begins on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar (which happens to fall on Nov. 28 this year), is an eight-day celebration.

Most gentiles (or non Jews) know Hanukkah as the story of the miracle of the oil. That is, as the story goes, one container of usable oil ended up lasting eight nights.

But there’s more to the celebration.

Hanukkah also celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. As the story goes, the Seleucids desecrated the Second Temple. A group known as the Maccabees eventually won in what is known as the Maccabean Revolt.

The word “Hanukkah” is rooted in the Hebrew word for “dedication.”

Hanukkah tradition: Lighting candles

There is really only one long-standing tradition for Hanukkah: Light candles.

As is customary for the holiday, each candle should be lit for at least 30 minutes (though, some candelabras now offer electric candles with push buttons!).

After the lighting of candles, those gathered offer sayings and sing “Maoz Tzur.”

The display of candles is meant to be a very public thing. So, typically candles are displayed in the most prominent window in the house.

(Of course, fire safety methods should be followed and candles shouldn’t be left lit unattended.)

A menorah has seven candle branches. The hanukkiah (or hanukkiah menorah) offers nine candle branches: One for each night plus the shammash, which is considered the “helper” candle that is used to light the others. “Menorah” is the Hebrew word for “lamp.”

It’s important to note that every hanukkiah is a menorah. But not every menorah is a hanukkiah.

Public displays

Efforts in the 1970s in the United States by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson to popularize Hanukkah led to a number of public hanukkiah displays.

Other Hanukkah traditions: Dreidel

Along the way, other traditions have helped to shape Hanukkah celebrations.

A popular Hanukkah tradition that nearly all elementary children learn about is the dreidel.

While the game is fun for children, dreidel grew out of a necessity to learn Hebrew and study the Torah after Greek King Antiochus IV, in 175 BCE, outlawed Jewish worship.

The four sides of the dreidel display:

  • Nun (נ)
  • Gimmel (ג)
  • Hey (ה)
  • Shin (ש)

When combined, “nun,” “gimmel,” “hay” and “shin” translate to “a great miracle happened there.”

How is dreidel played?

With at least two players, you’ll need the dreidel and tokens (usually chocolate tokens called gelt).

  1. Divide the tokens (gelt) equally among those playing.
  2. Spin the dreidel to see the order of game play. “Nun” is the highest rank, followed by “gimmel,” “hey” and “shin.” If there’s a tie? You know the drill: Keep spinning!
  3. Players place one token in the middle to play.
  4. Each player spins the dreidel once. Depending on the side the dreidel lands on, the player gives or takes tokens from the group collection.
    1. Shin: Add a token to the middle
    2. Nun: No action
    3. Gimmel: Take all of the tokens!
    4. Hay: Get half of all tokens in the middle. If there’s an odd number, round up.
  5. Play in a clockwise direction.
  6. Game continues until someone wins all of the tokens! (It’s much shorter than Monopoly!)
  7. Run out of tokens? Your game play is either over or you could ask for a “loan” from another player.
  8. Winner eats (but also could share) the chocolate!

Foods

What is a celebration without food?

Along with the gelt for playing dreidel, Hanukkah has evolved into a scrumptious food fest, complete with latkes (topped with applesauce or sour cream); brisket; sufganiyot (kind of like a jelly-filled doughnut); kugel (a Jewish noodle casserole dish) and cheesy foods (blintzes, cheese danishes, etc).

Gift-giving

Though considered to be a more recent tradition, giving gifts has become part of Hanukkah, which is said to derive from European tradition and the constant comparison between Hanukkah and Christmas in the United States.

Though the origins of gift-giving are generally unclear, it is said the idea of giving gifts grew in the 1950s as a way to make Jewish children be proud to be Jewish as they saw their friends and others getting gifts for Christmas.