Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday that is celebrated around the world. It brings joy and light to many people, but it is distinguished by a unique quirk — every year it falls on a different day. This begs the question, why does Hanukkah start on a different day each year?
The reason why Hanukkah starts on a different day each year is due to the Jewish calendar. Judaism follows the lunar-solar calendar, which works differently than the Gregorian calendar most people are familiar with. The Jewish calendar is based on lunar cycles, which are about 29 and a half days long, and the solar cycle, which is 365 days. This means that each month is slightly different in length than what we are used to in the Gregorian calendar, and it also means that the Jewish calendar is not the same length every year.
Since the days in the Jewish calendar are different each year, holidays and observances start on different days as well. Hanukkah varies in date from late November to late December, but it always takes place during the same eight-day period each year.
But why eight days instead of one? This is because Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, which occurred over the span of eight days and nights.
The History of Hanukkah
Hanukkah is derived from the Hebrew word ‘ḥanukkah’ meaning rededication, and it celebrates the rededication of the holy temple in Jerusalem which happened over 250 years before the birth of Jesus. It’s an important holiday in both Judaism and Christianity and is celebrated on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev.
The story dates back to 168 BCE when Antiochus IV, the ruler of the Seleucid Empire, who wanted to Hellenize the Jewish population by imposing Greek customs and laws on them. The Jews revolted and were led to a successful revolt by the Maccabees, a Jewish family. After their victory, the Maccabees restored the Second Temple and lit its menorah to celebrate.
How Hanukkah is Celebrated
Hanukkah is traditionally celebrated by lighting one candle on the eight-branched menorah each night for the eight nights of the festival. Each night, another candle is lit until the full menorah is lit on the eighth night. Additionally, children may receive gifts over the eight nights of Hanukkah and play with games such as a four-sided spinning top (dreidel) and folk songs and dances.
In conclusion, Hanukkah starts on a different day each year because the Jewish calendar is not the same length every year. It celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and is traditionally celebrated by lighting one candle on the menorah each night for the eight nights of the festival. Additionally, children may receive gifts and play with games such as a four-sided spinning top. Hanukkah is an important holiday in Judaism and Christianity and is a great time for family and friends to come together and celebrate.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.