Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.
The holiday is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched menorah, one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. The typical menorah consists of eight branches with an additional raised center branch. The extra light, with which the others are lit, is called a shamash and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest.
Hanukkah is a relatively minor Jewish holiday. Hanukkah celebrations include the daily lighting of the menorah, special prayers, and hymns, eating oil-based foods such as latkes and sufganiyot, playing dreidel games, and giving gifts of money ( Hanukkah gelt).
Story of Hanukkah
The holiday is observed throughout the world by Jews of all levels of religious observance and has also been adopted by some non-Jews as a cultural celebration. The story of Hanukkah, as told in the Talmud, has a number of variations, but the basic narrative is that a small band of Jews, led by the Maccabees, revolted against the Seleucid Empire and regained control of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
Holiday of Hanukkah
The holiday of Hanukkah commemorates this event and celebrates the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days when it should have only lasted for one.
The menorah is the central symbol of Hanukkah. It is a nine-branched candelabrum that is lit each night of the holiday. The menorah is also known as the Chanukiah.
The menorah is supposed to be placed in a window or near the front door of a home so that it can be seen by passersby and serve as a reminder of the holiday.
Night of Hanukkah
The menorah is lit each night of Hanukkah, starting with the first night of the holiday. On the first night, one candle is lit. On the second night, two candles are lit. This continues until all eight candles are lit on the eighth night.
The shamash, which means “servant” in Hebrew, is a candle that is used to light the other candles. The shamash is usually placed in a different location than the other candles, either above or below them.
The dreidel is a four-sided spinning top that is used in a game that is traditionally played on Hanukkah. The dreidel has four Hebrew letters on each of its sides. These letters stand for the Hebrew phrase “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham,”
The Hanukkah Festival is a global holiday that is celebrated in December. It is a time for people to come together and celebrate their heritage and culture.