What Is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah was considered to be a minor holiday until about 100 years ago. The holiday still has not gained the religious importance of other Jewish holidays though. Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashana, and Passover are still more popular holidays in the community.
Because of its proximity to Christmas, it has evolved into a mainstream occasion. This led to the giving of gifts on Hanukkah, which was typically not part of the celebration. In general, gift-giving only seems to happen in Jewish households with children. Gifts may not be given every day of the eight-day holiday either.
Eight Nights of Celebration
As you may know, the holiday is generally celebrated over eight nights. Each night, a new candle on the menorah is lit. During this time, families also say prayers and eat fried foods. Many people are familiar with the popular Hanukkah treat latkes or potato pancakes.
The Story Behind Hanukkah
The story behind Hanukkah, also known as The Miracle of Hanukkah, is something that is told over the eight nights.
In 168 B.C., this great temple was seized by Hellenistic-Syrian soldiers. Mattathias Maccabeeus, a priest in the Jewish faith, refused the soldiers’ demands and his eldest son, Judas, fought to reclaim control of Jerusalem. Their last holdout was at the great temple, and when they returned, they found that there was only one day’s worth of oil left in the temple.
Despite there only being one day’s worth of oil left in the temple, it lasted for eights days and nights. This miracle is essentially the focal point of Hanukkah. It is celebrated by lighting candles instead of oil (one candle per day).
That is only one of the traditions that tie into the story of Hanukkah though. The tradition of eating fried foods is to remind people of the oil that burned for eight days. Another popular tradition is playing dreidel. Whichever side the dreidel lands on indicates how much gelt (or chocolate coins) will be rewarded.
When Is Hanukkah in Future Years?
Hanukkah falls on a different day every year. All Jewish holidays fall on the Hebrew calendar, which corresponds with the moon. As mentioned above, this year the holiday will begin after sundown on December 2 and end on December 10.
According to the Hebrew calendar, Hanukkah begins on 25 Kislev. In 2019, this will make the holiday fall on December 22 and end on December 30, making it coincide with Christmas. The following year, Hanukkah will be celebrated from December 10, 2020, through December 18.
Readers, do you plan to celebrate Hanukkah this year?
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