Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish festival of rededication, also known as the Festival of Lights. It is celebrated with a variety of traditions, ceremonies, and activities including lighting of the candles of a nine-branched Menorah and the sharing of traditional gifts. The holiday is extraordinarily meaningful to Jews from around the world, but what is the reason behind the celebration?
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Hanukkah dates back two and a half millennia to the days of the Second Temple of Jerusalem in the ancient land of Judea. When the Greek-Syrian ruler, Antiochus IV, attempted to suppress the Jewish faith by forcing the Jews to worship Greek gods, a small group of Jewish fighters known as the Maccabees rose up against the oppressive tyrant. Defying the impossible odds, the Maccabees secured a miraculous victory against the much more powerful Syrian forces.
Re-dedication of the Temple
After their victory and reclaiming the Temple, the Maccabees sought to re-dedicate it to God. After purifying the Temple, they sought to light its menorah—a seven-branched candelabrum. To their surprise, they found only pure, consecrated oil to last for one night—yet miraculously the oil remained lit for eight days and nights, the same amount of time it took to prepare another supply of oil. It was thus declared that a festival should be held to commemorate this miracle and the rededication of the Temple.
Lighting the Menorah
The Menorah is the main symbol of Hanukkah, often symbolizing a victory over oppression and the freedom to practice one’s own religion. Each night, the Menorah is lit, from right to left, with a total of 9 candles, one to be lit the first night and an additional candle to be lit each night afterwards—the 9th candle is often referred to as the “shamash” and is used to light the others.
Gifts and Treats
The sharing of traditional gifts and treats has long been an integral part of Hanukkah celebrations. Traditional jelly-filled doughnuts known as “sufganiyot” have become a classic Hanukkah treat, joining traditional gifts such as a dreidel game, which is often accompanied by chocolate coins known as “gelt”.
At its core, Hanukkah has come to symbolize more than just a military victory of the Maccabees, but the enduring fight of the Jewish people for freedom to practice their faith and the hope for a brighter future which can be found in the miracle of the oil. Every year, it is celebrated not only with the lighting of candles and traditional treats, but also with the passing on of generations of stories and in the hope of a better tomorrow.
- What Is The Reason For Celebrating Hanukkah?
- What Is Hanukkah And Why Is It Celebrated?
- What Day Is Hanukkah Is It?
- What Is The Feast Of Hanukkah?
- What Is Hanukkah And How Is It Celebrated?
- Which Hanukkah Candle Is Lit First?
- What Is Lit To Represent Each Day Of Hanukkah?
- What Hanukkah Candle Is Lit First?
- What Is Hanukkah Day?
- Why Is Hanukkah 8 Nights?
- What Is Hanukkah The Festival Of?
- What Is The First Day Of Hanukkah?
- What Is The Jewish Holiday Hanukkah?
- What Is The Jewish Hanukkah?
- What Day Is Today For Hanukkah?
Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.