What is Hannukah?
Hanukkah is a special holiday celebrated by Jewish people around the world. It’s also known as the Festival of Lights. Hanukkah lasts for eight days and usually falls in December. The story behind Hanukkah is about a miracle that happened long ago.
Hanukkah commemorates an event that took place over 2,000 years ago in ancient Israel. At that time, the Jewish people were living under the rule of the Syrian-Greek king named Antiochus. He did not allow the Jewish people to practice their religion freely.
One brave group of Jewish fighters called the Maccabees decided to fight for their freedom. Led by Judah Maccabee, they fought against the Syrian-Greek army and miraculously won! They reclaimed the holy Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which had been taken over by the Syrians.
After reclaiming the temple, the Maccabees wanted to light the menorah, a special lamp that was supposed to burn continuously. But they found only a small amount of oil that would only last for one day. However, the oil miraculously burned for eight days, which was enough time for them to get more oil.
To celebrate this miracle, Jewish people light a special candle holder called a menorah during Hanukkah. It has nine branches, one for each night of the holiday, plus an extra branch called the shamash, which is used to light the other candles. Each night of Hanukkah, an additional candle is lit, starting with one candle on the first night and ending with eight candles on the last night.
Another fun tradition of Hanukkah is playing with a spinning top called a dreidel. A dreidel has four sides, each with a Hebrew letter. People take turns spinning the dreidel and can win or lose chocolate coins called “gelt,” depending on which letter the dreidel lands on.
Delicious foods are also part of Hanukkah celebrations. One popular treat is the potato pancake called a latke. Latkes are made from grated potatoes, onions, and other ingredients, and they are fried until they become crispy. Another favorite is the jelly-filled doughnut called a sufganiyah.
Hanukkah is a time when families and friends come together to celebrate. It’s a time for joy, gratitude, and remembering the importance of freedom and religious freedom. People exchange gifts, sing songs, play games, and enjoy festive meals.
So, that’s Hanukkah! It’s a holiday that celebrates a miraculous event in Jewish history. It’s a time to light the menorah, play with dreidels, eat delicious food, and spend time with loved ones. Hanukkah reminds us of the importance of faith, freedom, and the power of miracles.
- Hanukkah is also spelled as Chanukah, and both spellings are considered correct.
- Hanukkah lasts for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar.
- The story of Hanukkah is found in the ancient Jewish texts called the Talmud and the Books of the Maccabees.
- The Maccabees, led by Judah Maccabee, fought against the Syrian-Greek army to reclaim the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.
- The menorah used during Hanukkah has nine branches, while the regular menorah used in Jewish temples has seven.
- The central branch of the menorah is called the shamash and is used to light the other candles.
- The menorah is placed in a window or a central location to share the Hanukkah light with others.
- The dreidel, a spinning top, is a traditional Hanukkah game played with a four-sided top.
- The Hebrew letters on the dreidel, “Nun,” “Gimel,” “Hey,” and “Shin,” represent the phrase “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham,” which means “A great miracle happened there.”
- The Hanukkah menorah is traditionally placed from left to right but is lit from right to left.
- Eating foods fried in oil is a Hanukkah tradition, symbolizing the oil miracle. Latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts) are commonly enjoyed.
- The first candle on the menorah is lit on the rightmost side, and each additional candle is lit from left to right, with the lighting of the shamash always last.