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is a Jewish holiday that is often referred to as The Festival of
Lights. Its celebration goes all the way back to somewhere around
165 BCE (Before the Common Era or BC in Christian terms). It commemorates
the victory of the Maccabees, led by Judah, over the Hellenistic
As legend has it, when the temple was reclaimed it needed to be
rededicated. The problem was that only one jar of sacramental oil
was found. That was enough to last just one day. They lit it anyway
and miraculously the oil burned for eight days, hence the eight
days of Hanukkah.
There are many celebrations and traditions that occur during Hanukkah.
The most important ritual is the candle lighting ceremony. This
happens every night for eight nights when a new candle is lit.
On the first night of Hanukkah two candles are lit, the first of
which is the “shamash”. This is the candle that is subsequently
used to light all of the other candles. It is placed in the middle
holder of the menorah – a candle holder that holds nine candles
and is used in Hanukkah celebrations. Once the shamash is lit, it
is then used to light the first candle of Hanukkah.
Each night after the first, a new candle is lit and added to the
menorah. On the last evening there are nine candles burning representing
the dedication of the faithful believers. It is common practice
for worshipers to dedicate each night of Hanukkah to people in their
In Israel, Hanukkah is a very festive time of year. There are many
parties and celebrations held throughout the country. It is so important
to the people that they let school out for a week during this sacred
This is a time that many look forward to all year. People join
in celebration together by playing games, feasting and giving gifts
or “gelt” to the children. The gelt that is traditionally
given is money. Traditionally the people eat foods that are fried
in oil during Hanukkah. Favorites include potato latkes and “sufganiot”
or jelly doughnuts. A favorite game that is played is the driedel
game, which is a gambling game that uses a four-sided top with Hebrew
letters written on it.
While Christians are celebrating the birth of Christ, Jewish people
all over the world join in eight days of food, fun and worship to
celebrate Hanukkah. It is a holiday that is actually older than
Christmas and has been celebrated for centuries by Jewish people
They make great décor for any home regardless of the faith
that is practiced there.
Since the holiday season is a short one, it means decorations in
its honor aren’t out very long.
There is no end to the variety of ways you can prepare for the holidays.