What Is Hanukkah?

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    Jewish people celebrate the Lights Festival on Hanukkah, also spelt Chanukah. Depending on the Western calendar, the holiday is commemorated in either November or December. Eight days long, the festival has its roots two centuries before the birth of Christianity. The Jewish festival of Hanukkah, whose name means "dedication," celebrates one of the biggest miracles in their history.

    Hanukkah is a festival that takes place in the period between the end of the Thanksgiving parades and the beginning of the Christmas carols. This year, the Jewish Festival of Lights begins on the 22nd and continues through the 30th. Get your menorah prepped with blue, white, and silver candles, study up on the Hanukkah story, and dig into some latkes.

    Many people celebrate Hanukkah by exchanging gifts on each of the eight nights. Throughout the eight days of Hanukkah, many games are played. Dreidel (Yiddish) and Sivyon (Hebrew) are by far the most well-known (Hebrew). Each of the four sides of this top bears a different Hebrew letter. The Hebrew words "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham" (in Israel "there" is rewritten as "here," hence the proper title is "Nes Gadol Hayah Po") translates to "A wonderful miracle happened there." The four letters make up the initial letter of the sentence. Everyone throws a chocolate coin, coin or nut into a revolving container. If the letter 'nun' () appears, nothing happens; if the letter 'gimel' () appears, the player wins the pot; if the letter 'hay' () appears, you win half the pot; and if the letter shin' (for 'there' ) or 'pe' (for 'here' ) appears, you must add another item to the pot and the next person spins the wheel.Looking for the ultimate Wedding Reception Venue in Melbourne? Look no further, Boutique Events Group is here.

    Hanukkah History

    The Hanukkah celebration's origins can be traced back to a time of great upheaval in Jewish history. Antiochus III, king of Syria and the Seleucid Empire, permitted Jews living in Land of Israel or known as Judea to continue practising their religion around 200 B.C. Antiochus IV Epiphanes a son of his was less compassionate, as evidenced by the fact that he banned Judaism and forced the Jews to worship Greek gods, as recounted by ancient historians. He had an army march on Jerusalem in 169 B.C., killing thousands of people and defiling the Second Temple by building a shrine to Zeus and slaughtering pigs inside its holiest walls.

    An uprising against Antiochus and the Seleucid dynasty was spearheaded by Jewish priest Mattathias and his sons. Judah Maccabee ("the Hammer"), Matthathias's son, took control after his father's death in 168 B.C., and within two years, the Jews had forced the Syrians out of Jerusalem, mostly through guerilla warfare. Judah commanded his followers to purify the Temple, repair the altar, and relight the menorah every night. This golden candelabra had seven branches that symbolised the seven days of creation.

    A Different Perspective On The Hanukkah Story

    To some modern historians, the Hanukkah story has a very different meaning. According to them, a civil war broke out in Antiochus IV's Jerusalem between Jews who had integrated into Greek and Syrian society and Jews who were resolved to uphold Jewish law and tradition at all costs. The Hasmonean dynasty, led by Judah Maccabee's brother and his descendants, overthrew the Seleucids and established an independent Jewish state in Israel that lasted for more than a century.

    Some Jewish historians and thinkers have theorised that the original Hanukkah was a make-up holiday for the Jewish festival of Sukkot, which they missed due to persecution during the Maccabean Revolt. Sukkot, a major Jewish religious festival, is celebrated for a whole week, during which time people gather for special meals, prayer services, and other celebrations.

    How Will It Be Celebrated?

    Kids love Hanukkah because they get presents and Hanukkah money. On each of Hanukkah's eight nights, some families exchange little gifts with one another. Children and adults alike have long shared a particular game together. Each of the four sides of the spinning top called a dreidel features a Hebrew letter that is used in the game. Each participant starts with ten to twenty items, usually raisins or other candies. Every player spins the dreidel with their own thing in the centre.

    The outcome of the game is decided by the letter that the dreidel lands on. One tradition associated with this event is the lighting of a Hanukiah, a candlestick with eight branches. The festival's centrepiece is the nightly lighting of the menorah. The shamash ("attendant") is one of the nine fires in the menorah and is responsible for lighting the other eight candles. Only one flame is lit on the first night. A second candle is lit on night two. All eight candles are lit on the final night of Chanukah.

    Before lighting the menorah, certain blessings are recited, frequently set to a traditional tune, and traditional songs are sung afterwards. Each family (or perhaps each member of the family) lights a candle in a menorah that is displayed in a window or doorway. In addition to synagogues, the menorah is illuminated in schools, businesses, and other public areas. Thousands of enormous menorahs have appeared in front of government buildings, shopping centres, and public spaces around the world in recent years.

    To thank God for "delivering the powerful into the hand of the weak, so many into the hands of the few, and the wicked into the hands of the righteous," we recite the special Hallel prayer every day and insert V'Al HaNissim into our regular prayers and the Grace After Meals.

    Hanukkah is commemorated by lighting a menorah with nine candles, or hanukiah in Hebrew. Following sunset on each of the eight nights of Chanukah, one additional candle is put to the menorah, and the ninth candle, the shamash (Hebrew for "helper"), is used to light the others. During this ceremony, Jews light the menorah and recite blessings to commemorate the miracle that sparked the festival.

    Traditional Hanukkah meals are cooked in oil, which is another reference to the miracle of the festival. Many Jewish families have traditions of eating potato pancakes (called latkes) and doughnuts filled with jam (called sufganiyot). The four-sided tops called dreidels are another Hanukkah tradition. Hanukkah has become a big commercial phenomenon in recent decades, especially in North America, in large part because it often coincides with or is celebrated around the same time as Christmas. When viewed through the lens of religion, however, the day still has no bearing on whether or not people can or cannot go to work or school.

    Most Hanukkah celebrations happen inside people's homes. The hanukkiah (sometimes called a menorah) is a candelabrum with eight branches that is lit with one candle each night until all eight are burning brightly on the final night of the festival. Traditional fried meals are eaten to remember the fabled crusade of oil. Latkes, a type of European (Ashkenazi) potato pancake, and sufganiyot, a type of jelly doughnut popular in Israel, are the most well-known dishes associated with Hanukkah. In Europe, it became customary to offer children small sums of money in addition to the traditional nuts and raisins. Because of its proximity to Christmas, many Western Jews now view Hanukkah as the most important gift-giving holiday in the Jewish calendar.

    What Are Some Hanukkah Gift Ideas?

    There are plenty of possibilities out there if you're looking for inexpensive yet entertaining Hanukkah presents for kids. The following eight presents are guaranteed to please your kids without breaking the bank:

    • Day One — Give your kids a menorah, a dreidel, and some gelt (chocolate coins are fine too) to help carry on the Hanukkah tradition. Teach your kids how to play dreidel and spend quality time with them while making happy memories.
    • Day Two — Take stock of your kids' puzzle and game collection to find any missing classics. Get some family game night going with classics like Candy Land, Monopoly, and Clue that everyone can enjoy. Buy a huge puzzle that the whole gang can work on together all night.
    • Day Three — Pick a handful of books for each kid that are appropriate for their age and interests. The time spent reading will not only help them expand their vocabulary, but will also keep them entertained for quite some time. Many public libraries offer little bookstores where readers can purchase books at reduced prices after reading them.
    • Day Four — Buying a present for the entire family is a wonderful way to demonstrate to your kids the importance of sharing and caring for others. This surprise can be as simple or elaborate as you like, as long as it serves to bring the family closer together. You might, for instance, take them to a movie of their choosing or order pizza for a family dinner—both of which won't break the bank. Restaurant coupons, savings on local activities, and vacation packages may all be found on sites like Groupon and LivingSocial.
    • Day Five —Your kids certainly need new pajama, so instead of just buying them the standard issue, consider getting them a pair that is either ridiculous or has their favourite characters. Browse the sleepwear sections at cheap stores for some great deals.
    • Day Six —Give your kids a taste of the good feeling that comes from helping others by setting up one evening a month for charitable giving. Put aside as much as you can afford to give and discuss with your loved ones which charity or charities will benefit from your generosity. Gifts for a children's charity are another option.
    • Day Seven — Favourite Things: Fill a bag for each of your kids with a selection of their favourite toys, books, and games. These need not be costly products. Indeed, you can amass them all year long when they become available at discounted prices. Items in sweets, costume jewellery, cosmetics, art supplies, snack food, and other categories are always welcome.
    • Day Eight —You can show your child how much you care by giving them a beautiful handmade gift instead of something from the store. This is a wonderful chance to have siblings make presents for one another. Stumped for inspiration? Seek motivation on Pinterest.

    What Do Jews Eat During Hanukkah?

    One of the less significant Jewish holidays is Hanukkah, according to Jewish law. But since it is so close to Christmas, Hanukkah has exploded in popularity in recent decades. The Hanukkah feast represents the miracles that are being celebrated with each dish. Oil is used to fry most of these traditional dishes to represent the oil that lasted for eight days. Some of them are filled with cheese in honour of Judith's victory.

    The Jewish New Year is celebrated with pancakes, loukoumades, and latkes. Together with sufganiyot and zelebi, loukoumades are a deep-fried pastry dipped in honey or sugar that symbolises the cakes the Maccabees enjoyed. Pancakes are a staple cuisine because they represent the hastily made meals the Maccabees ate before heading into combat, and the oil used to fry them is a symbol of the miraculous oil that saved their lives. Symbolic of the cheesecakes that Widow Judith served, latkes eventually morphed into the potato/vegetable fried treats that are now more commonly associated with the dish. In honour of courageous Judith, several cheeses and dairy dishes are enjoyed.

    Food is an important part of the Hanukkah celebration, and most of the time, that means deep-fried food to commemorate the miracle of the menorah blazing for eight days straight. Similar to pancakes, latkes are made from mashed potatoes and can be topped with a variety of ingredients, both sweet and savoury. Due to the fact that they are fried in oil, people all around the world eat sufganiyot, which are deep-fried doughnuts filled with jam or custard and dusted with powdered sugar, during Hanukkah.

    A terrific way to celebrate Hanukkah is with a feast.Check out our extensive list of Wedding Photographers in Melbourne to help capture your special moments. Some foods, including the potato-based latkes, pancakes, and doughnuts, hold significant cultural or religious significance. The fact that they are fried in oil makes them a tangible reminder of the miracle of the oil in the temple that kept burning for eight days to the Jewish people.

    What Is The Purpose Of Chocolate Hanukkah Gelt On Hanukkah?

    The custom of presenting money (gelt) on Hanukkah dates back to the 17th century. Parents traditionally gave gelt to their children's teachers as a token of appreciation, but the practice has now spread inside families as a way to encourage and reward Torah learning. Chocolate companies eventually started using the idea to produce chocolate gelt that looked like money by being packaged in miniature bags made of gold or silver foil. There is a sense of celebration and remembrance in this act of appreciation for the oil's miraculous transformation.

    Traditional Hanukkah fare sometimes includes fried okra and late-harvest zucchini, but it's also common to serve seasonal specialities like challah, big salads, and Brussels sprouts. These meals are emblematic of the many generations of Jews who have shared a meal together in the spirit of the holiday season. Use this fusion of old and new flavours in your favourite Jewish dishes to impress your Hanukkah guests.

    The "Miracle" Of Hanukkah

    One of Judaism's most important writings, the Talmud, claims that during the rededication of the Second Temple, Judah Maccabee and the other Jews there saw a miracle. Though they had only enough pure olive oil to light the menorah for a day, the candles burned brightly for eight nights. This gave them plenty of time to locate more oil. Jewish sages were so moved by this rare occurrence that they declared an annual celebration lasting eight days. (In a different telling of the narrative, found in the first Book of the Maccabees, the eight-day festival that followed the rededication is described, but the miracle of the oil is not mentioned.) We have compiled a list of our top Wedding Celebrants to help you celebrate your special day.

    Hanukkah, like Passover, is a festival that honours freedom from tyranny. It's also a compelling case for religious and spiritual liberty. Despite the honoured human action, the theology that the liberation was only possible because of the miraculous support of the Divine remains prominent.


    Hanukkah, also spelt Chanukah, is the Jewish Festival of Lights. This celebration dates back to the time period before the Christian era. Different Hebrew letters appear on the playing pieces of many games, such as the Yiddish-language Dreidel and the Hebrew-language Sivyon. The Jewish holiday of lights known as Hanukkah is celebrated throughout the winter months. During Hanukkah, a menorah (or hanukiah in Hebrew) is lit each night.

    Each night of the festival, one candle is added to the menorah, a candelabrum with eight branches, until all eight candles are aglow on the final night. The shamash (from the Hebrew word for "help") is lit first, and then the others are lit. Among Western Jews, Hanukkah is widely regarded as the most significant gift-giving festival. In Europe, it has become popular to give children tiny amounts of money instead of the traditional nuts and raisins. The eight suggestions below are surefire hits without breaking the budget when shopping for children.

    Pancakes, loukoumades, and latkes are served during the Jewish New Year celebration. All the dishes at the Hanukkah dinner symbolise one of the eight miracles that are being honoured. Most of these classic foods are traditionally deep-fried to mimic the oil that lasted for eight days. A traditional Jewish dessert, sufganiyot are doughnuts sprinkled with powdered sugar and stuffed with jam or custard. Along with potato-based latkes, pancakes, and doughnuts, they are a staple of Hanukkah meals.

    For eight days, the oil in the temple kept the lamps glowing, and these candles serve as a physical memorial to that miracle. A celebration of independence from oppression, Hanukkah shares that theme with the Passover holiday. The argument for spiritual and religious freedom is very strong. To wow your Hanukkah guests, try incorporating these unique twists on traditional Jewish meals.

    Content Summary

    1. Hanukkah, also spelt Chanukah, is the Jewish Festival of Lights.
    2. This celebration takes place in either November or December, depending on your Western calendar.
    3. The event, which lasts for eight days, dates back to two centuries before Christianity was established.
    4. Hanukkah, which literally means "dedication," is a Jewish holiday commemorating a major historical event.
    5. To celebrate Hanukkah, people wait until after Thanksgiving parades but before Christmas songs start playing.
    6. Each night of Hanukkah, many people celebrate by giving and receiving gifts.
    7. It's customary to play a variety of games over each of the eight Hanukkah nights.
    8. Background on Hanukkah The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah has its roots in a period of considerable turmoil.
    9. A New Angle on the Hanukkah Legend Some contemporary historians place a totally different interpretation on the Hanukkah tale.
    10. Judah Maccabee's brother and his descendants, the Hasmoneans, overthrew the Seleucids and founded a Jewish state in Israel that flourished for over a century.
    11. As a result of persecution during the Maccabean Revolt, some Jewish historians and intellectuals have proposed that the original Hanukkah was a substitute for the Jewish festival of Sukkot.
    12. Major Jewish religious festival Sukkot is observed for a full week, during which time people have special meals together, attend prayer sessions, and have other celebrations.
    13. Hanukkah is a favourite holiday because of the gifts and money given to children.
    14. Some households celebrate Hanukkah by giving and receiving little presents during the holiday's eight days.
    15. For the eighth and final night of Chanukah, all eight candles are lit.
    16. The menorah is not just lit at synagogues but also in homes, places of work, and other public places.
    17. Huge menorahs have been installed in front of public buildings, retail malls, and other public locations all around the world in recent years.
    18. When celebrating Hanukkah, it is traditional to use a menorah with nine candles, also known as a hanukiah in Hebrew.
    19. Jews all across the world will gather to burn candles in a menorah and say prayers in honour of the miracle that started this holiday.
    20. Traditional Hanukkah fare is prepared with oil, which is another symbol of the festival's miracle.
    21. Given its proximity to Christmas and the increasing commercialisation of the holiday, Hanukkah has become a major economic force in recent decades, particularly in North America.
    22. The majority of Hanukkah parties are held indoors.
    23. If you're looking for low-cost but fun Hanukkah presents for kids, you have many options.
    24. All eight of these inexpensive presents will be well received by your children: Give your children a menorah, a dreidel, and some gelt (chocolate coins are great too) on the first day of Hanukkah so that they can continue the holiday's customs into the future.
    25. Spend some quality time with your kids and create some lasting memories by teaching them how to play dreidel.
    26. Initiate a family game night with tried-and-true favourites like Candy Land, Monopoly, and Clue.
    27. On the fourth day of Christmas, show your children the value of generosity and kindness by purchasing a gift for the entire family.
    28. Set aside as much as you can afford to donate and talk to those closest to you about which organization(s) would most benefit from your support.
    29. Donations to a cause benefiting children are another possibility.
    30. Favorite Things, Day 7: Put some of your children's favourite games, books, and toys in individual bags.
    31. On the eighth day, show your child how much you care by making them a special gift instead of buying them anything from a store.
    32. According to Jewish law, Hanukkah is one of the less prominent Jewish holidays.
    33. Pancakes, loukoumades, and latkes are served during the Jewish New Year celebration.
    34. In honour of the miracle of the menorah remaining lit for eight days, deep-fried foods are a staple of most Hanukkah celebrations.
    35. Sufganiyot, deep-fried doughnuts filled with jam or custard and coated with powdered sugar, are a popular Hanukkah treat around the world.
    36. Celebrating Hanukkah with a delicious meal is a wonderful tradition.
    37. View our comprehensive selection of Melbourne-based wedding photographers to choose the perfect one for your big day.
    38. The potato-based dishes of latkes, pancakes, and doughnuts all have deep religious or cultural roots.
    39. Because they are fried in oil, they serve as a physical symbol to the Jewish people of the miraculous oil that burned continuously in the Temple for eight days.
    40. Gifts of money (gelt) are traditionally given out during Hanukkah, a tradition that dates back to the 17th century.
    41. Though originally intended as a thank-you gift for a child's instructor, the practise of giving gelt to family members who have been studying the Torah has become widespread.
    42. Seasonal favourites like challah, large salads, and Brussels sprouts are often served alongside traditional Hanukkah fare like fried okra and late-harvest zucchini.
    43. To wow your Hanukkah guests, try incorporating this blend of traditional and innovative flavours into some of your favourite Jewish meals.
    44. A Look at Hanukkah's "Miracle" The Talmud, one of Judaism's holiest books, states that the Jews present at the rededication of the Second Temple witnessed a miracle.
    45. They only had enough pure olive oil to keep the menorah lit for one day, but the candles blazed brightly for all eight evenings.
    46. Jewish sages were so impressed by this extraordinary event that they instituted a holiday lasting eight days to commemorate it. (The eight-day feast that followed the rededication is detailed in the first Book of the Maccabees, but the miracle of the oil is left out of that version of the story.)
    47. With that in mind, we have produced a list of our most highly recommended Wedding Celebrants to officiate your big day.
    48. A celebration of independence from oppression, Hanukkah shares that theme with the Passover holiday.

    FAQs About Hanukkah

    Hanukkah is not the Jewish version of Christmas, nor is it an impossibly difficult festival to learn about, contrary to what you may be led to believe by some holiday films released around this time of year. 

    The Jewish festival is observed eight nights and most frequently occurs in November and December. The Jewish holiday known as Hanukkah lasts eight nights and often falls during November or December. However, a great number of people may be unaware of the extensive history and customs that are associated with the annual celebration that is known as the "Festival of Lights."

    Hanukkah is a Jewish festival that occurs on the 25th of Kislev, whereas Christmas is a Christian festival that occurs on the 25th of December. The primary distinction between the two holidays is that Christmas is a Christian festival on the 25th of December. Hanukkah and Christmas are two of the most important religious festivals celebrated after the year.

    People celebrate Hanukkah by eating items that have been fried in oil. Latkes, potato pancakes, and sufganiyot, jelly-filled doughnuts, are two examples of traditional foods. Other traditional dishes include sweet and savoury kugels, brisket, and tzimmes, an Ashkenazi Jewish stew.

    The Hanukkiah, a nine-branched candelabra lit each night during Hanukkah and frequently seen in the windows of homes, is the most well-known emblem of the holiday. In addition, the lighting of the menorah, known as the hanukkiah, is at the heart of Hanukkah festivities. During this time, families meet together to light candles together.

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