Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday that celebrates the rededication of the second temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt. It is celebrated with the lighting of a special menorah called a Hanukkiah, as well as traditional foods, prayers and games. But Hanukkah is more than just a holiday and a celebration – it is a reminder of the strength of faith that allowed the Jewish people to resist oppression and maintain their identity in the face of tremendous odds.
Hanukkah celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, freedom over oppression, and faith over fear. In 167 BCE, the Maccabean revolt recaptured the second temple in Jerusalem from the Syrian-Greeks who had desecrated it and imposed oppressive laws on the Jewish people. The rededication of the temple, or Hanukkah, is remembered as the festival of lights.
The Hanukkiah is an eight-branched candelabra with a center candle, the Shamash, which is used to light the other candles. On the first night of the festival, Hanukkah, the Shamash is lit and the first candle is lit. On each successive night, another candle is lit until all eight are lit. This joyful symbol of Hanukkah has been an integral part of the celebration since its beginning.
Several traditional Hanukkah customs accompany the festival. Traditional Hanukkah foods include latkes (fried potato pancakes), sufganiyot (jelly donuts), and brisket. Oil is prominent in many Hanukkah foods, in remembrance of the cruse of oil that lasted for eight days – just enough time to relight the candelabra in the temple.
In addition to dietary customs, many children play a variety of games during Hanukkah. Dreidel games, usually associated with Hanukkah, are played with a four-sided spinning top.
Hanukkah is a reminder of the strength of faith and the ultimate triumph of good over evil. While the focus of the celebration may be on the symbolic lighting of the menorah, there is much more to this ancient holiday. Hanukkah is a time to remember the courage and perseverance of the Maccabees who did not waver in the face of tyranny. It is a time to celebrate our freedom, our faith and our heritage.
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Last update 2023-11-22. Price and product availability may change.