Hanukkah is more than just a celebration of freedom and religious devotion—it’s also a celebration of light. Each year, for eight nights, Jews light the menorah in honor of the miracle that gave the Maccabees the strength to overcome their enemies back in ancient Jerusalem in 165 BCE. One of the most prominent aspects of the celebration is the question: why Hanukkah is 8 days long?
Why Is Hanukkah 8 Days Long?
The story of the miracle of Hanukkah starts with the Seleucid Empire. Led by the king Antiochus IV, the Seleucids sought to remove the Jewish faith from the Holy Land and replace it with pagan rituals. In response, a group of Jewish warriors known as the Maccabees rose in rebellion and, against all odds, succeeded in completely defeating the oppressive regime.
The celebration of Hanukkah celebrates this miraculous victory. According to the Talmud, the Maccabees found only a small amount of oil to light the candles necessary to rededicate the Temple– enough to properly light the menorah (candelabra) for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, allowing the faithful to rededicate the Temple and restore the Jewish way of life.
The Eight-Day Festival of Lights
Thus, Hanukkah is celebrated over 8 days in commemoration of this amazing miracle. Every evening of the holiday, families light the menorah, commemorate their faith, and observe several other rituals that honor their freedom. These include:
- Singing special holiday songs called “Maoz Tzur” and “Rock of Ages.”
- Playing “dreidel,” a children’s game involving a spinning top.
- Giving and receiving gifts.
- Eating traditional foods fried in oil, such as latkes and sufganiyot.
In addition to celebrating the military victory that strengthened the Jewish nation, Hanukkah also recognizes the ever-lasting nature of God’s presence and faith. By lighting the menorah each evening of the holiday, Jews around the world symbolically recognize the miracle of the oil, light, and celebration of their religious freedom.
In conclusion, Hanukkah is a powerful reminder of the strength of faith and commitment to the Jewish tradition. This eight-day celebration is an opportunity to observe the miracle of the oil and rededicate our allegiance to God. For eight nights, Jews around the world light the menorah and observe several of the holiday’s other important traditions in recognition of their freedom and everlasting faith.
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Last update 2023-11-22. Price and product availability may change.