What Hanuka Teaches Us About Blogging

167 years before the common era, the Syrian King Antiochus outlawed Sabbath observance, circumcision, and the possession of a Bible. Many Jews were ticked off at these restrictions, and when Antiochus commanded they start sacrificing pigs in the Temple, they got really angry and decided to fight back. Within three years they had kicked some Antiochus butt and on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, 164 years before the common era, they reentered the Temple and lit some candles. A day commemorated annually with the holiday of Hanuka. (As an annual celebrant, I assure all my readers my use of understatement in this paragraph was not out of lack of respect.)

For my first post for the St. Louis Bloggers Guild I thought I would offer an idea on how to give your blog some personality. How to make it look a little bit different from every other blog. How not to assimilate. And there seemed to be no better way to begin then set up a grossly out of whack analogy with the holiday of Hanuka. No God-King of the Internet is forcing you (or me) to be the same as everyone else. We don’t need to take up arms, yet. However, many bloggers still decide the best thing to do is to be like everyone else.

This may have its origins in grade school when we got teased for being different. However, if you’re not well-known for something else (e.g. a famous actor, author, or athlete) few people outside your small circle of friends will read your blog unless they find it interesting.  And I know I rarely find a blog interesting if it looks exactly like 90% of all other blogs out there.  One of the ways we distinguish ourselves, naturally, is post content.  The content of our posts is probably the most important feature of a blog, but since it is considered unethical if not illegal to plagiarize, you are mostly on your own with your content.

However, there are other ways to personalize your blog. One of the easiest is known as gadgets or plug-ins. If you use WordPress, they have a directory of over 3,000 plugins, with detailed instructions on
how to install them. Regardless of your blogging platform, Google has over 48,000 gadgets, and provides code that can be copied and inserted on any web page.

It’s impossible for me to guess what you will find in these lists that will be the perfect addition for your blog. Weather forecasts, an mp3 player, stock prices, the ability to translate your blog into 7 different languages, daily jokes, daily words, or sports scores? The possibilities aren’t endless, but there are several hours worth of browsing you can do.

You can analogize this to hanging artwork on a bare wall. The artwork tells the visitor to your home a little about you, and knowing more about you makes them feel more comfortable, and more likely to return.

Before I close, due to my opening paragraph, I am sure some people are wondering when Hanuka is this year. It starts on the same day every year. On the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev. This coincides with December 21st this year. But what about in the year 164 BCE?  What day on the Gregorian Calendar did the actual event fall on?  That’s more complicated. Prior to the year 70 CE, the Hebrew calendar was observational, not standardized. Each month began after the second person declared they saw the new crescent moon. However, if the current calendar is applied to the earlier years, you get a rough estimate.  The crescent moon may not have been observed on the exact same day as the calendar says the month should have begun, but the calendar is designed such that it would be close. Also it should be noted that this was not only before the Gregorian calendar, it was before the Julian calendar. So we are comparing two calendars – neither of which existed in its current form at that time. With that in mind – the answer: November 21.

So if the Gregorian calendar were used to celebrate Hanuka, you would expect me to close this post today with the words, “Happy Hanuka.” But it isn’t. So you don’t expect me to. But I will anyway, as I
don’t mind being different. Happy Hanuka – and don’t assimilate.

Written by John Newmark

Next Month: Memes and Carnivals – Benefits of Assimilation

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One Response to “What Hanuka Teaches Us About Blogging”

  1. Happy Hanuka to you too.

    Good points – what your post is your style and uniqueness. That should be the most important part.

    Widgets though do help, especially if they fit well in the theme and layout of your blog.

    Good share on more than one level.

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