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Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday honoring the Maccabees’ rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BC. This celebration marks the courage of the Maccabees and the miracle of the temple’s single-day supply of oil lasting for eight days – which is commemorated by the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah. The customs and traditions that have developed over the years emphasize religious traditions alongside their cultural significance.
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What Is The Hanukkah Tradition?
Hanukkah is a celebration that has been celebrated for many centuries. While its customs and traditions vary from place to place, here are the primary elements that make up this holiday:
The centerpiece of Hanukkah is the menorah, an eight-candle holder with an additional pencil-like “shamash” candle used to light the other candles. Every night, the shamash candle is lit first followed by the number of candles equal to the night of the holiday. On the first night, one candle is lit, and on the final night, all eight candles are lit. The menorah should be placed in a window or doorway to display to the outside world the joy of the holiday.
Hanukkah gifts usually involve something that is special to the recipient. While it is traditional to give money (in certain countries known as ‘gelt’), Jews are encouraged to give thoughtful gifts that can be cherished for years.
Spinning a four-sided top known as a dreidel is a popular activity during Hannukah. The sides of the dreidel has letters which stand for the Hebrew phrase “a great miracle happened here.” Depending on the letter that the dreidel lands on, participants collect or donate tokens typically represented by gelt.
Eating Oil-based Foods
To commemorate the miracle of oil lasting for eight nights, traditional Hannukah foods contain oil. This includes latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts). It’s yet another excuse to indulge in delicious treats!
As a celebration about religious identity and the power of miracles, Hanukkah serves as an important reminder of faith and culture to the Jewish people around the world. While customs and traditions may vary from place to place, the importance of family, faith, and food remain as the main tenets of the holiday.
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Last update 2023-11-22. Price and product availability may change.