Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday that is filled with traditions and customs all of which have been passed down from generation to generation. One of the most interesting aspects of the holiday is that it begins on the eve of the 25th day of the Hebrew month, Kislev. This article will explore why Hanukkah begins on this specific date and what significance it has throughout the holiday.
The Jewish calendar is a lunar-based calendar in which the months are either 29 or 30 days long and observed by the sighting of the first sliver of the new moon. This is why Hebrew months tend to move about 11 days in the Western calendar each year as the full cycle of the moon is roughly 28 days. The 25th day of the month, Kislev, is very important to the Jewish faith for several reasons.
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Why is the 25th Day of Kislev Significant?
The 25th day of Kislev marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights. It is on this day that the Temple of Jerusalem was saved from destruction and, miraculously, one day’s worth of oil lit the menorah for a total eight days instead of just one. This is why the menorah is lit for 8 days during the Festival of Lights.
Why is the Moon Sighting Necessary for the Start of Hanukkah?
In Judaism, it is of utmost importance to observe the start of the month. It is unable to calculated with a mathematical algorithm as we do today, instead, the New Month is observed by a lunar sighting. This is why the official start of Hanukkah and other Jewish holidays constantly changes both date and time.
What are the New Moon Observances?
In order to declare a new month, a few observances must be completed:
- Observe the first sliver of the moon with a clear view, free from any celestial clouds
- Observe two reliable witnesses who affirm that they declared the first sliver of the new moon
- Make a proclamation that the new month has begun
As it takes 28 days for the moon to complete its cycle, this is why the Jewish months tend to move every year and why the start of Hanukkah also moves each year.
So When Does Hanukkah Start?
Since the new moon and the Hebrew months are constantly moving, the start of Hanukkah also changes each year. The 25th day of Kislev is always the start of Hanukkah, but the exact day and time could change from year to year.
From its humble beginnings in the holy Temple of Jerusalem to the changing of the times, Hanukkah is a holiday that has spanned the ages with its cherished traditions and customs. Each year, we look forward to commemorating this miraculous event of history and celebrating the Festival of Lights that lights up the world.
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Last update 2023-11-26. Price and product availability may change.