Hanukkah is an annual Jewish celebration that commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. But when exactly do we celebrate this joyful holiday? Here is a brief overview of the dates on which Hanukkah occurs and some of its traditional activities.
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When Is Happy Hanukkah?
Hanukkah is celebrated from the 25th of Kislev in the Jewish calendar (which corresponds to late November or December in the Gregorian calendar) for eight days. It begins sundown on the first day and lasts until sun down of the eighth day. On the first night of Hanukkah, a traditional prayer is said over the lighting of the candles.
The Hanukkah menorah – called the hanukiah – holds 8 candles or oils that are lit in a special ceremony each night of Hanukkah. Candles are added one at a time until all eight are lit. The menorah itself symbolizes the miracle of the burning oil. On the top of the hanukiah there is a special additional candle called the shamas. Each night this candle is used to light the other eight.
On the first night of Hanukkah, place the shamas to the right of the Menorah and add one more candle each evening from right to left. As each candle is worked from left to right, blessings are said. The blessings praise God for the miracles of the oil lasting 8 days and for the escape of the Jews from the enemy.
Traditional Foods of Hanukkah
In addition to the candle lights, Hanukkah is filled with delicious foods that commemorate the holiday.
- Latkes – Shredded potato pancakes fried in oil.
- Sufganiyot – Fried jelly donuts.
- Cheese latkes - Latkes made with cheese instead of potatoes.
- Apple slices – Fried in oil and then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.
- Kugel – A casserole dish.
- Beef brisket – Slow-cooked beef brisket.
- Matza – Unleavened bread that is similar to crackers.
Traditionally, children are given hanukkah gelt, or coins, to commemorate the coin in the story of Hanukkah. Generally, chocolate coins are given to children as part of the celebration.
Hanukkah is a joyous occasion that celebrates the story of hope and faith and is celebrated for 8 days in late November or December. During this time, families light the menorah, eat traditional foods, and give Hanukkah Gelt to children.
The holiday’s customs reflect the stories of the holiday, celebrate the miracle of the oil, and build a sense of community and joy.
No matter what your beliefs or traditions, Hanukkah is a special time to celebrate, reflect, and give thanks for the many blessings that life has provided us.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.