Each year, Jews around the world come together to celebrate the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah. This eight-day holiday is a time to remember the courage of our ancestors, to rejoice in the victories of our past, and celebrate the bonds of family, faith, and freedom. But what makes Hanukkah so special? Why is the Festival of Lights held for eight nights?
Hanukkah is one of the most important holidays in the Jewish calendar. It is celebrated to commemorate the rededication of the holy Temple of Jerusalem and the victory of the Maccabees over the oppressive Greek-Syrians. To celebrate, Jews light candles, play games, eat traditional foods, and exchange gifts. But why is Hanukkah celebrated for eight nights?
The tradition of observing Hanukkah for eight days dates back to the second century BCE. After the Temple of Jerusalem was rededicated and the Maccabees reclaimed it, they relit the Menorah. The problem was that there was only enough pure oil to light the Menorah for one day, but miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days, and so the tradition of celebrating eight days of Hanukkah was born.
Because the Festival of Lights lasts for eight days, there are a number of different activities and rituals that take place to celebrate each night. On the first night of Hanukkah, an extra candle, or the Shamash, is lit and placed in the center of the Menorah. This is the candle that is used to light the other candles. Then, starting with one candle, an additional candle is lit each night until all eight candles are lit up.
On each night of Hanukkah, the blessings are recited over the candles and latkes (potato pancakes) and other traditional treats are enjoyed. Hanukkah is also a time to share special moments with friends and family. The games of dreidel and the exchanging of gelt, or coins, are also common activities that take place during this holiday.
Every night of Hanukkah, Jews all around the world continue to celebrate the miracles of our ancestors and the Maccabees’ victory. Although each night is special, it is the eight-day observance of the Festival of Lights that makes this holiday unique. For eight nights, we remember our ancestors’ courage and victory, and unite together to celebrate the freedom of our people.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.