Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after it was liberated from the rule of the Greek-Syrians. Dating back to the 2nd century BCE, it is an eight-day long celebration commemorating the miracle of the Maccabees’ victory over the Greeks. Each year during Hanukkah, Jews around the world light the menorah for each of the eight nights, play dreidel games, and exchange presents, among other festivities.
The History of Hanukkah
The celebration of Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the 2nd century BCE. In the Hebrew Bible, the Maccabees led a successful revolt to gain independence from the Greek-Syrians. They found only enough oil to keep the temple lamp lit for one day, but it miraculously stayed lit for eight days. This significant event is re-created on Hanukkah by lighting the menorah for each of the eight nights.
The Rituals of Hanukkah
The main tradition of Hanukkah is lighting the menorah. The menorah has nine branches, of which seven are used for the nightly lighting of the candles. Every night, one more candle is added as it symbolizes the eight days the oil miraculously stayed lit in the temple.
Other traditional activities include playing dreidel, a spinning top with four Hebrew letters on it, and exchanging presents. Dreidel is a game in which players try to make the top spin the longest and the winner take the pot of coins or chocolate coins. Presents are also exchanged between family members and friends.
The Significance of Hanukkah
Hanukkah is a time to celebrate religious freedom and the power of perseverance. It is a reminder that, even in times of difficulty, it is possible to overcome challenges with faith, determination and the help of others. Hanukkah is also a time for Jewish people all over the world to come together in celebration and to reconnect to their Jewish faith and heritage.
Over the centuries, Hanukkah has become one of the happiest and most beloved celebrations of the Jewish calendar. As it rightly celebrates joy, victory and freedom, each of its rituals commemorate the events that surround its beginning and power of faith and determination. The Jews of today, like those of antiquity, continue to stand up for their beliefs and remember the miracle behind Hanukkah through these time-honored customs.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.