Hanukkah is an important part of Jewish tradition and culture, celebrated around the world by Jews of all nationalities. For eight days and nights, Jews commemorate the miracle of the Maccabees who defeated the Syrian-Greeks and reclaimed the temple in Jerusalem. During this time, it is traditional to eat foods fried in oil and light a special candelabra, known as a menorah. But why exactly do Jews celebrate Hanukkah?
What Is the Story of Hanukkah?
Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. In 170 BCE, a battle between the Syrian-Greeks and the Jewish Maccabees took place in which the Maccabees defeated the Syrian-Greeks and reclaimed the temple. By the time the Maccabees returned to the temple, it had been totally destroyed. In order to cleanse and rededicate the temple, they needed to have a new Menorah, but could only find enough ritually pure oil to light the Menorah for one day. Miraculously, this one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days and nights.
Ever since, Hanukkah has been an eight-day festival commemorating the battle and the miracle of the oil. The holiday is celebrated by eating traditional fried foods, such as latkes and sufganiyot, playing the game of dreidel, and of course, lighting the menorah.
What Is the Meaning Behind Hanukkah?
At its heart, Hanukkah is about religious freedom, independence, and perseverance against all odds. In the story of the Maccabees’ battle, they championed their faith and their right to practice freely against a powerful enemy. This sense of perseverance and the celebration of religious freedom is at the very core of the holiday.
In addition to commemoration, Hanukkah celebrates the light and God’s presence in the world even in the darkest of times. The holiday is known as the Festival of Lights, as it is celebrated with the menorah that provides eight nights of light. The menorah is lit to remember the miracle of the light for eight days, yet also serves to remind us of the spiritual fire that still burns within us.
What Is the Significance of Gifts on Hanukkah?
It has become a culturally accepted tradition to give and receive gifts during Hanukkah. Although this is not a traditional part of the holiday, it has become a fun and exciting way to celebrate the Festival of Lights. Giving gifts during Hanukkah shows appreciation for friends and family while also reinforcing the celebration of light. Gifts are often presented in a form of gold or silver coins as a way to “give light” and to spread joy and happiness.
Hanukkah is an important part of Jewish tradition and culture, a time to remember the miracles of the Maccabees and to celebrate the light of joy and happiness that burns within us. Whether it’s eating traditional fried foods, playing dreidel, or exchanging gifts, Hanukkah is a time of religious freedom, independence, and perseverance against all odds. Ultimately, it’s a time for families and friends to come together and share in the joy and miracles of the holiday.
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Last update 2023-11-22. Price and product availability may change.