Hanukkah is a celebrated Jewish festival that is held in memory of a miracle that occurred in ancient Judaism. It commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in 164 BCE and the miracle of the oil. It is traditionally observed for eight days and nights, beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. Hanukkah is marked by the lighting of candles, the traditional eating of fried foods and the giving of presents. It is a joyous occasion that has come to be known as the Festival of Lights.
Hanukkah is an ancient festival that has been observed in some form or another for thousands of years. Today, there are several traditions that have become associated with the holiday. The most popular traditions include the lighting of the menorah, a ceremonial candelabrum; playing the Dreidel, a spinning top game; and eating traditional foods such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts).
Lighting the Menorah
During Hanukkah, a ceremonial candelabrum called a menorah is lit in memory of the original miracle of the oil. The menorah holds a total of nine candles – eight regular candles and one special candle; the special candle is called the shamash or “helper” candle, and is used to light the other eight. Each night of Hanukkah, one more candle is lit until all eight candles are burning brightly.
Playing the Dreidel
The Dreidel is a four-sided top with a Hebrew letter on each side. The four letters are an acronym that stands for “A great miracle happened there” (in Israel). During Hanukkah, a Dreidel is spun and depending on which letter is facing up, different amounts of coins, candies or nuts are given to the players. Dreidel is a fun game that everyone can join in and have a great time.
Eating Traditional Foods
Food plays an important role in the Hanukkah celebration. Traditional Hanukkah dishes include latkes (potato pancakes), sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) and special Hanukkah cookies. Latkes are made from grated potatoes, eggs, flour, and spices and are fried in oil. Sufganiyot are filled with jelly, custard or chocolate and are also fried in oil. Eating these types of fried foods (and other foods cooked in oil) is a reminder of the miracle of the oil, when one day’s worth of oil lasted for eight days.
There are many other customs and traditions associated with Hanukkah. It is a time of celebration and remembrance, but more importantly, it is a time to appreciate our religious and cultural heritage and to be thankful for the blessings that have been bestowed upon us all. Hanukkah is a time for Jewish families and friends to come together and celebrate our shared history and tradition, which is so important to us all.
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Last update 2023-11-22. Price and product availability may change.