Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish festival that celebrates the rededication and recapture of the temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BCE. It commemorates the miracle of a single cruse of oil that shone in the temple for eight days, even though it only had enough fuel for one night. This festival is celebrated annually and begins on the 25th day of Kislev on the Jewish calendar.
What Is Hanukkah Celebrated For?
Hanukkah is celebrated as a celebration of the victory of the Maccabees, who were the Jewish people’s army and who defeated the oppressive invaders of the ancient Greek Empire. The Maccabees reclaimed the temple, where Jews regularly worshipped and offered priestly sacrifices to God, and rededicated it to the traditional practices of the Jewish faith. The festival of Hanukkah is celebrated to remember this miracle of the Jews regaining control of the temple and allowing the faith to be practiced without fear or oppression.
The Hanukkah Miracle
The miracle of one cruse of oil lasting for eight days is the centerpiece of the Hanukkah celebration. Rabbinical texts state that when the Maccabees reclaimed the temple, they found that all the oil had been defiled. In order to make a high-priestly offering of incense, the Maccabees cleaned and refilled one cruse of oil and lit it. Miraculously, the cruse of oil lasted for eight days.
As with every Jewish festival, the celebration of Hanukkah is packed with meaningful symbols and customs. Most common among these customs are the lighting of the menorah (a nine-branched candelabrum) and spinning the four-sided top, or dreidel. These activities are meant to remind Jews of the victory of the Maccabees and of the miracle of the oil. Food also plays a symbolic role in the Hanukkah holiday, with many dishes made with or fried in oil. These dishes include potato latkes (crispy potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (doughnuts).
Celebrating Hanukkah is an important tradition in Jewish life that serves as an enduring remembrance of the Maccabees’ victory and the miracle of the eight days of light. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the Jewish faith and to spend meaningful time with family and friends. For this reason, Hanukkah is an important holiday that remains celebrated to this day.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.