Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a Jewish holiday celebrated over the 8 days between the 25th day of the Jewish month Kislev and the 2nd day of the Jewish month Tevet. During this time, families light each of the 8 candles of the menorah, one each day, and feast on foods that reflect the miracle of oil lasting 8 days. This is a time of joy and celebration, but what exactly are the traditions and history behind Hanukkah? Here is a comprehensive guide to this unique and joyful holiday.
What is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah is an 8-day holiday celebrated all around the world to commemorate the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by the Maccabees. It is a time of joy and celebration, and is very popular among Jewish people all around the world. The name “Hanukkah” comes from the Hebrew word meaning “rededication”.
History of Hanukkah
Hanukkah dates back to the 2nd century BCE, when Greek-Syrians tried to forbid the practice of Judaism and conquer the Jewish people. The Maccabees, a small group of Jewish rebels, managed to reclaim the Temple in Jerusalem and rededicate it, in what is known as the Maccabean Revolt. An 8-day festival of lights was declared in honour of this event, in which Jews around the world celebrate with themes of light, freedom, and joy.
Traditions of Hanukkah
- Lighting of the Menorah: The centerpiece of the Hanukkah celebration is the ritual lighting of the Menorah, held each night of the holiday. This is done with a special Hanukkah candle, known as the Shammash (the “helper”), and the candles are lit from left to right.
- Gifts: Many families exchange gifts during Hanukkah, especially among children. This is also known as “Hanukkah Gelt” which tradition states should be treats, such as money or chocolate coins.
- Food: During Hanukkah, many delicious foods are eaten to mark the occasion. This includes latkes (fried potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts). Foods cooked in oil signify the miracle of oil lasting 8 days.
- Dreidel Games: The traditional game of Dreidel is often played during Hanukkah, involving players taking turns spinning the top and guessing which letter (נ – Nun, ג – Gimel, ה – Hei, ש – Shin) the top will land on.
Hanukkah is a beautiful Jewish holiday that is celebrated all around the world. For eight nights families and friends gather to celebrate the rededication of the Temple and the miracle of the oil lasting 8 days. The traditional customs of lighting the Menorah, eating special Hanukkah foods, exchanging gifts, and playing the Dreidel game are all part of this festive holiday. Wishing a happy and joyous Hanukkah to all who celebrate!
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Last update 2023-11-22. Price and product availability may change.