Happy "Festival of Lights" everyone! As an individual of Hebrew descent, and not an actual practicioner of the Jewish faith despite years of study and research, I'd like to take the time to share with you all about this joyous holiday, and why so many people around the world celebrate around the soft glow of candles each year.
When Is Hanukkah and How Long Does It Last?
In the Jewish calendar, Hannukkah is on the 25th day of Kislev.
Much like Easter, the date of Hanukkah varies from year to year, but usually falls between the end of November and mid-December. This is because the Jewish calendar is calculated by 12-13 lunar cycles (months) that last between 29-30 days, matching the astrological phenomenon of the Earths axis, revolution of the Sun, and the Moon's revolution around the Earth. This year, 2017, Hanukkah begins on December 12 and ends on December 20.
The festival lasts for a total of 8 days, marking the miracle with the temple oil.
What Is Hanukkah All About?
Hanukkah, or Chanukah in Hebrew, is an eight-day festival marking a period more than 2,500 years ago when the Jewish holy temple was seized by Syrian-Greek forces. The Syrian-Greek King Antiochus gave Jews an impossible choice: renounce Judaism or die. (Sound familiar?)
Thats when a small group of Jewish rebels, called the Maccabees, fought back and were able to recapture the Holy Temple. The Maccabees were led by the Jewish priest, Matisyahu, and his son, Judah. When they had recaptured the temple they had discovered that there was only enough oil left to keep the Holy Light, a flame which was never meant to go out, lit for one more day. This was a devestating blow, despite the victory.
The miracle that is celebrated on Hanukkah was that somehow the flame stayed alight for eight more days. which was long enough for the to make another batch of oil. To this day, that miracle is celebrated with a traditional lighting of the candles for eight days during the festival. Contrary to popular belief, Hanukkah isnt anything like Christmas.
How Do People Celebrate Hanukkah?
Every night (except Friday when the Sabbath candle is lit first) during Hanukkah families light a candle after sunset and give presents to one another. MAny use this celebration to throw parties and have large get-togethers. There is usually a feast typically served with food that has been fried in oil to pay tribute the miracle of the everlasting oil. This includes doughnuts and latkes, or potato pancakes.
The candle that is lit each night for Hanukkah is called a candelabra , and is held in what is called a Menorah , which has nine candle holders. That is one candle for each day of the festival and a ninth candle that is used to light the others (usually the one placed in the center of the Menorah). This is called a Shamash . Its traditional for the Menorah to be put in the window of each familys home. The idea is so that people who are passing by outside can see the candles.
Thanks for reading! And Hanukkah Sameakh! alt="" class="img" height="16" role="presentation" src="https://www.facebook.com/images/emoji.php/v9/f6d/1/16/2721.png" width="16" />