On Fire - Eretz Israel Museum

On Fire
In Holidays and Ceremonies

The Sun God was the main god in most of the cultures of the ancient world, and rituals related to it were associated with fire. In prehistory, many peoples celebrated the shortest day of the year, regarded as the day the sun died and was reborn, by lighting fires. Until now, Jews celebrate Hanukkah and Christians celebrate Christmas close to the date of the shortest day of the year, a trace of the ancientsun (fire) ritual.

Fire is the main theme in several holidays: Jews celebrate LagBaOmer by lighting bonfires; Orthodox Christians observe the Holy Fire ceremony on the Holy Saturday; and on the same day, theSaturday before Easter, Catholics observe resurrection ceremonies, symbolized by fire; The Armenians celebrate Tiarn`ndaraj as aChristian holiday, but it too is a relic from an ancient fire ritual. In addition, fire is part of numerous Jewish and Christian ceremonies and holidays, manifested mainly by lighting candles. The Muslims do not light fires nor candles on their holidays due to a religious precept, and therefore have no representation in this exhibition.

In the exhibition, Dancho (Dan) Arnon – a longtime photographer, journalist, tour guide and author of documentary books and films – exhibits some of the scenes of the ceremonies that he photographed over the past seven years in Israel.