Hanukkah is one of the most important Jewish holidays celebrated around the world. It commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. One of the most distinctive aspects of the holiday in modern times is that it spans eight days. So why do we celebrate Hanukkah for eight days?
The Historical Reasons
According to tradition, it was in the year 165 BCE when the Jews in Judea revolted against the Syrian King Antiochus IV. To win the war, they needed the divine help of God, so each night of the revolution they lit their menorah in the Temple with one day’s worth of oil. It was a miracle when one day’s worth of oil miraculously lasted eight days, until they were able to bring more oil to the Temple. Thus, the Maccabean Jews celebrated the victory with an eight-day feast starting on the 25th of Kislev.
So the religious significance of Hanukkah lies in the miracle of the small amount of oil burning for eight days — hence, why the holiday is celebrated for eight days. In the modern era, the Hanukkah menorah known as a “hanukiah” with its nine branches for the nine nights of celebration is lit one extra candle each evening to signify this miracle.
The Cultural Reasons
In the Jewish community, Hanukkah is a joyous holiday and many celebrate with festivities, music, Jewish storytelling (known as “The Dreidel Game”), lighting of the Hanukkiah, and traditional foods including latkes and sufganiyot. It’s a time to bring family and friends together to celebrate the great miracle that happened so many years ago.
The eight-day period used to celebrate Hanukkah also makes it an ideal opportunity to celebrate with an intimate group of close friends or family. The holiday lasts for a full week, which means that the celebration of the Festival of Lights can be stretched out over a reasonable amount of time in order to make the most of it.
In conclusion, Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days in commemoration of the Maccabean Revolt and the miracle that occurred in the ancient Temple more than 2000 years ago. The eight lights of the menorah remind us of this miracle and the hope for a better future. Additionally, the eight days of Hanukkah allow for an extended experience of celebration, religious and spiritual reflection, and joyful gatherings with family and friends.
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Last update 2023-11-22. Price and product availability may change.