Hanukkah is an important Jewish holiday celebrated every year for eight consecutive days. During this special event, Jewish people remember the Maccabees’ struggle to restore freedom of religion in Jerusalem in 165 BC. The Hebrew word Hanukkah (חנוכה) means “dedication.” Every year, the holiday of Hanukkah is celebrated starting at sundown on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev.
What Time Does Hanukkah Start?
Hanukkah usually starts at sundown two to four weeks before Christmas. This means that the exact date changes from year to year, and it is difficult to give a single date on which Hanukkah begins. Since the Jewish calendar is based on lunar cycles, the same is true for the starting date of the holiday. Since 2009, Hanukkah has started between late November and late December.
How to Determine When Hanukkah Starts?
In order to have a better understanding of when the holiday will start every year, it is important to understand the basics of the Jewish calendar. According to the Jewish calendar, each year has 12 or 13 lunar months that are made up of 29 or 30 days. This means that months move forward by roughly 11 days each year. In 2020, Hanukkah begins on Thursday, December 10 and ends on Friday, December 18.
Ways to Celebrate Hanukkah
During the eight days of Hanukkah, there are several different activities that take place in Jewish homes to celebrate the holiday. Many activities focus on candle lighting, together with traditional prayers, songs, and meals.
- Lighting the Menorah: On each of the eight nights, candles or oil lamps (menorah) are lit. A special blessing is said each night.
- Giving Gifts: The tradition of gift-giving is similar to Christmas and happens usually on the first or last night of Hanukkah.
- Playing Dreidel: The dreidel is a four-sided top with Hebrew letters engraved on each side. During Hanukkah, people spin the dreidel and then divide up the pot of candy, gelt, or toys among the players.
- Eating Latkes: Latkes are potato pancakes fried in oil, which represent the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days in the Temple. Special foods are eaten throughout the eight days.
Hanukkah is a special time of celebration for the Jewish people, and it is important to know when it begins and what activities to prepare for. By understanding the basics of the Jewish calendar, how to determine the starting date of Hanukkah and how to celebrate with traditional activities, people can properly participate in this joyful holiday.
Hanukkah is joyfully celebrated each year by millions of Jewish people around the world. It is a wonderful holiday full of meaningful traditions and activities. Through understanding the basics of the Jewish calendar and the different ways to celebrate, people can make the most out of every Hanukkah.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.