Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is one of the most important Jewish holidays celebrated in Israel and around the world. The holiday marks the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem following the successful rebellion of the Maccabees against the anti-Semitic tyrant Antiochus IV in 166 BCE. In addition to celebrating this incredible victory, Hanukkah is also known for its impressive observance of light and blessings over the course of eight days. But when exactly does the Hanukkah celebration begin?
Explanation Of How The Jewish Calendar Works
The Jewish calendar is a bit different from the Gregorian calendar as it follows a lunar cycle of 354 or 355 days with each month beginning just after the new moon, making months either 29 or 30 days long. Because the Jewish calendar is both luni-solar, meaning it is regulated by the motion of both the moon and sun, there is the occasional leap year that adds a thirtieth day to certain months. To keep the calendar in sync with the northern hemisphere’s seasonal changes, a thirteenth month (Adar Sheni) is added every two to three years.
The First Day Of Hanukkah
According to the Jewish calendar, the holiday begins on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. This is referred to as the first night of Hanukkah, during which the lighting of the six branched menorah, known in Hebrew as the chanukiah, takes place. The candles of the menorah, which are lit in succession one for each day, represent the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and the miracle of the jar of oil that lasted for eight days.
Traditional Hanukkah Observances
There a plethora of traditional observances associated with the holiday, such as the lighting and blessing of the menorah, eating foods cooked in oil like latkes and sufganiyot, participating in fun competitive games like the dreidel game, and exchanging gifts such as pieces of jewelry and traditional menorah candles. Additionally, Jews also adopt the ritual of reciting special blessings over the course of the eight nights of Hanukkah. The most important of these is the Shehecheyanu prayer, which expresses gratitude over the opportunity to experience a special occasion.
In summary, Hanukkah is a religious Jewish holiday that typically falls in late November or December each year. While the exact day changes each year, the holiday always begins on the 25th day of Kislev and is celebrated for 8 days in accordance with the story of the jar of oil that lasted for 8 days. During each day of Hanukkah, Jews follow the tradition of lighting the menorah, blessings, and celebrating with lots of fun and games.
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- What Day Does Hanukkah Start?
- When Does Hanukkah Start Every Year?
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.