Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. This holiday lasts for eight days and often involves singing, praying, exchanging gifts, and eating traditional foods. Celebrating Hanukkah is a way to remember the events of the Maccabean revolt, which, according to legend, resulted in the eight-day miracle of the oil lamps in the Temple. During Hanukkah, many individuals and families take part in the tradition of lighting the Menorah, eating fried foods like latkes, playing the dreidel game, and exchanging of gifts.
Lighting the Menorah
The Menorah is the iconic symbol for Hanukkah. At the start of each night of Hanukkah, families will light the Menorah and say the blessing. The first night, one candle is lit on the Menorah, and then an additional candle is added each night until all eight candles are lit on the final night. Families will often spend time together talking and singing while the Hanukkah candles burn.
The Dreidel Game
The dreidel game is traditionally played during Hanukkah. It is a game of chance where participants use a uniquely-shaped spinning top that has four Hebrew letters on its surfaces. Players start out with an equal amount of tokens or “gelt,” and the game can be played with two or more people. Traditionally, chocolate coins or foil-wrapped chocolate coins are used as gelt for the game.
Latkes are traditional fried potato pancakes made with fresh potatoes, onions, eggs, matzo meal, and spices. Latkes are served during Hanukkah in honor of the successful Maccabean revolt against an oppressive force. Many people enjoy latkes topped with applesauce or sour cream.
Exchanging gifts is a popular Hanukkah tradition. Many people like to receive Hanukkah gelt (coins) as a reminder of the Biblical story of Judah Maccabee and giving the gift of oil to the temple. Other popular gifts include chocolate gold coins, Hanukkah candles, Jewish books, and gadgets.
Celebrating Hanukkah is a great way to remember the important history behind the Jewish holiday. Each Hanukkah ritual is designed to focus attention on the underlying meaning and events of the Jewish Maccabean revolt, while also providing an enjoyable experience for all who take part. Lighting the Menorah, playing the dreidel game, eating latkes, and exchanging gifts are all great ways to observe Hanukkah with friends and family while also teaching important lessons about Jewish history and faith.
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Last update 2023-11-22. Price and product availability may change.