Each year during the winter months, the Jewish people of the world celebrate a special eight-day holiday called Hanukkah. While across the world, many people know about this festival, not many are aware of its complex history and origin. This article takes a look at the history of how Hanukkah came to be.
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day festival which begins in the late fall and celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The festival is observed in countries such as Israel, the United States, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, France, and the United Kingdom, as well as other nations with strong Jewish populations.
The festival is based on the story of The Maccabees, a band of Jewish warriors who fought against the rule of the Syrian-Greek King Antiochus IV in the 2nd century BCE. After three years of battle, The Maccabees successfully drove out Antiochus and rededicated the Second Temple in Jerusalem.
The story of Hanukkah begins with the rededication of temple and the use of sacred oil lamps. According to one legend, when The Maccabees returned to the Temple, they found that it had been desecrated and the oil needed to kindle the permanent lamp had been defiled. After cleaning the Temple, they lit the fire but realized that there was not enough consecrated oil to keep the fire going for more than one day. Miraculously, the fire kept burning for eight days and the celebration of Hanukkah was born.
An additional part of the Hanukkah celebration is another miracle which concerned a food item known as sufganiyot, which are small, jelly-filled doughnuts. According to legend, when the Maccabees were rededicating the temple, the food available to the people was limited. The rabbis of the time suggested a special dessert, a fried dough made with oil, to commemorate the miracle of the oil lamp.
Hanukkah is a very special holiday that has been celebrated for hundreds of years, and continues to be celebrated today. The tradition of lighting the oil lamp, eating latkes (potato pancakes fried in oil) and sufganiyots, playing dreidel games, and exchanging gifts has become a part of the culture and brings joy to the Jewish people of the world. We can be thankful for the miracle of the oil that enabled us to celebrate this beautiful holiday and carried on through countless generations.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.