Festival of Lights: Hanukkah begins Dec. 2

Heat up the latkes! Spin the dreidels!

It’s time for Hanukkah!

The eight-day holiday known as the Festival of Lights begins at sundown Dec. 2. Hanukkah ends at night on Dec. 10.

Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of the third month of the Jewish calendar. The date changes each year.

As the story goes … after Judah Maccabee’s revolt to drive the Syrians out of Jerusalem in 168 B.C., he asked for a menorah to be lit.

But only a night’s worth of oil was left. The menorah was lit anyway, and ended up lasting eight nights.

Each year, those who observe the Jewish faith light one candle of their menorah each night. The menorah usually it displayed where all can see — in a window, for example.

Of course, Hanukkah is not the most important Jewish holiday. Those include Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Advertisements

The ‘Confluence’: Where Pittsburgh and the holidays come together

photo by WESAI was graciously invited to return to 90.5 WESA’s “The Confluence” program to share my love of Pittsburgh and the holiday season with listeners.

We talked PPG Place gingerbread houses, local artisan markets, walking tours, and, of course Kennywood Park’s Holiday Lights.

I joined Rossilynne Culgan, at The Incline and Katie Blackley, of WESA.

Tune in around the 24-minute mark to hear the interview.

Holiday TV for Dec. 1: Freeform’s 25 Days begins, animated classics, original ‘Miracle,’ ‘Elf’

Here’s a look at the holiday specials, reruns, classics and more on TV today!

  • “25 Days of Christmas” begins on Freeform!
  • Rankin/Bass animated classics have shifted from Freeform to AMC.

Shows:

  • 11 a.m. — “The Little Drummer Boy: Book II (1976, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • 11:10 a.m. — “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” with Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Freeform
  • 11:30 a.m. — “The Story of the First Christmas Snow (1975, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • Noon — “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (1985, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • Noon — “Christmas Everlasting” with Tatyana Ali and Patti LaBelle, Hallmark
  • 1:15 p.m. — “The Leprechauns’ Christmas Gold” (1981, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • 1:45 p.m. — “Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey” (1977, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • 2 p.m. — “The Sweetest Christmas (2017) with Lacey Chabert, Hallmark
  • 2 p.m. — “Christmas Perfection (2018), Lifetime
  • 2:15 p.m. — “Jack Frost” (1979, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • 3:20 p.m. — “Christmas With the Kranks,” Freeform
  • 3:30 p.m. — “Frosty’s Winter Wonderland (1976, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • 4 p.m. “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • 4 p.m. — “It’s Christmas, Eve” (2018) with LeAnn Rimes, Hallmark
  • 4 p.m. — “Poinsettias for Christmas” (2018), Lifetime
  • 4:30 p.m. — “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year (1976, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • 5 p.m. — “Romance at Reindeer Lodge,” Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
  • 5:45 p.m. — “The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • 7:35 p.m. — “The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Freeform
  • 8 p.m. — “Disney Parks Presents a 25 Days of Christmas Holiday Party,” Disney
  • 8 p.m. — “Mingle All the Way (2018), Hallmark
  • 8 p.m. — “A Twist of Christmas (2018), Lifetime
  • 8:55 p.m. — “Muppet Babies, Disney Jr.
  • 9 p.m. — “Elf,” AMC
  • 9 p.m. — “Christmas Wonderland” (2018), Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
  • 9 p.m. — “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas,” USA
  • 9:15 p.m. — “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” 2000) with Jim Carrey, Freeform
  • 9:45 p.m. — “The Bishop’s Wife” (1947) with Cary Grant, TCM
  • 10 p.m. — “Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe (2018) with Lacey Chabert, Hallmark
  • 11 p.m. — “The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974, Rankin/Bass), AMC
  • 12:15 a.m. — “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year” (1976, Rankin/Bass) (AMC)
  • 1:30 a.m. — “Miracle on 34th Street (1947) with Natalie Wood, AMC

Listen to WESA radio on Nov. 30!

Pittsburgh’s NPR station WESA 90.5 FM has graciously asked me back to share all things Pittsburgh and the holidays!

I’ll be part of a three-person panel during the station’s “Confluence” show that will air live at 9 a.m. Nov. 30. The segment will air sometime in the 9:30 half hour.

You can listen to 90.5 FM in Pittsburgh and from anywhere online . Once you open the website, click/tap the “listen live” option.

Among the topics I hope to talk about include Kennywood Park’s Holiday Lights, Port Authority’s decorated buses and Ts, and all of the sights Downtown!

Walking tours showcase Pittsburgh’s holiday scenes

Pittsburgh is a beautiful city.

Every day. Every type of weather.

But Pittsburgh at the holidays is quite a magical experience.

And while there no longer are grand department stores, Downtown Pittsburgh still offers a lot of holiday fun with lights, gingerbread houses, shopping, trees and more!

It might seem overwhelming to see every tree and holiday display.

Fear not! We’ve got you.

There are two excellent options to discovering all the holiday things in Downtown Pittsburgh.

The Incline’s ‘merry and bright, 9-stop Downtown Pittsburgh holiday walking tour’

First thing’s first: This tour is free.

Rossilynne at The Incline created this perfect holiday walking guide in 2017 to hit up all of the  great stops. She’s updated it for 2018 to reflect changes.

Among the stops she lists includes the Horne’s Tree, PPG Place and the large ornament at the K&L Gates building.

Walk the Burgh’s Holiday Lights Tour

If you want more of a detailed tour that includes history and architecture information, you have to check out the Walk the Burgh Tours daily Holiday Lights Tour.

The roughly two-hour tour takes guests on a holiday loop, checking out lights, decorations and ending with gingerbread houses at PPG Place and Market Square.

Cost is $25 for adults and $20 for children ages 6 to 13. Reservations are requested at least 24 hours in advance as the group cannot guarantee late requests. You’ll also receive a free appetizer coupon to a Downtown restaurant.

The tour meets at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center (1049 Penn Ave, Downtown Pittsburgh, PA 15222).

It’s offered daily at 4 p.m. and will continue through Jan. 13.

‘The North Pole needs a HR department’: In ‘Rudolph’ special, Santa is a bully

Hold your mittens for this truth bomb …

In the animated classic, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” Santa Claus, Comet and Donner … fit the textbook definition of bullies.

Like so many others, I grew up loving the cute looking cartoon that weaves through the story of Hermie (the elf who wants to be a dentist), the unloved toys and, of course, Rudolph and his dad’s embarrassment of the young deer’s red nose.

At some point in the mid-2000s, I started realizing that the special actually promoted bullying as it forced people who were “normal” to be considered dominant and in control.

Rather than celebrating each character’s uniqueness, this depiction of the North Pole taunts and bullies others who don’t fit their definition of what they should be like.

One Twitter user perfectly describes how I feel about Donner: “Donner just told Rudolph that self respect was more important than his son breathing. Somebody call the cops to their cave immediately.”

Another Twitter user wrote, “The North Pole needs a HR department. All these bosses are horrible.”

And if the horrible storyline wasn’t enough … there’s even an innocent murder:

The Santa I know promotes love and acceptance of all children.

It’s not the holidays until we see the Eat’n Park tree!

The little star that could!

Eat’n Park’s popular Christmas commercial has warmed our hearts since 1982.

And every year, Pittsburghers await the first viewing of the iconic ad.

Usually, the commercial first airs during the live telecast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on WPXI.

Thanks to the internet and social media, we don’t have to wait to watch the spot.

In a 2012 Post-Gazette story celebrating the 30th anniversary of the ad, an Eat’n Park leader said the company receives many emails from people telling them the spot marks the official start of their holiday season.

“When the Eat’n Park commercial comes on the TV and the Horne’s tree goes up, those are the two starting points of Christmas,” Graham Small told the PG.

Read more from Eat’n Park about the story of the popular commercial.