Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday. Deriving from the Hebrew word for “dedication,” Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in the 2nd century BC. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the “Festival of Lights.” Jews around the world celebrate Hanukkah in a variety of ways.
The Menorah, a candelabrum or “lamp” of nine branches, is a fundamental symbol of Hanukkah. Jews light one candle on the Menorah on the first night of the holiday and add another candle on each successive night of the holiday, until all eight candles are lit. This ritual symbolizes the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days in the Holy Temple, even though there was only enough oil for one day.
Many Jewish families exchange gifts during Hanukkah. This practice has grown out of the tradition of gift-giving on the holiday of Purim. During Hanukkah, many Jews give money to children as a gift in an effort to instill a sense of appreciation for money.
Playing games with dreidels or spinning tops is the most popular activity of Hanukkah. They are usually made of wood or plastic and have Hebrew letters inscribed on each side. Dreidel is a four-sided top with the letters nun, gimmel, hay, and shin inscribed on its sides, and these letters form an acronym meaning: “a great miracle happened there.”
A vital part of the Hanukkah celebration is feasting on traditional foods. The custom goes back to the miracle of Hanukkah, when only one day’s worth of oil was left to light the Menorah, but the oil lasted an entire eight nights. Foods like latkes (potato pancakes), jelly doughnuts, and sufganiyot (Israeli doughnuts) are all popular Hanukkah foods.
Hanukkah is an eight-day long celebration for Jews and a great opportunity to come together with family and friends. Jews celebrate Hanukkah by lighting the Menorah, giving gifts to each other, playing dreidel, and eating traditional holiday foods. It is a truly special time and an amazing way to connect with your faith and honor the miracles of the past.
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Last update 2023-11-22. Price and product availability may change.