One minute read. Written by a grade 7 student
Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish festival – also called the Jewish Festival of Lights. It is typically celebrated in late fall or early winter.
The history of Hanukkah goes back over 2,000 years. It commemorates the victory of Jews over Greek invaders in the second century B.C. In 139 BCE, a group of Jewish rebel warriors, called the Maccabees, returned to Jerusalem to liberate it.
According to legend, after winning, the Jews wanted to clean and purify the Temple in Jerusalem. This is when a miracle occurred – they lit a candle but it only had oil for one day. However, the candle burned for eight days – hence they celebrate it for eight days.
How is it celebrated?
It is a lot like Diwali – where families meet and exchange gifts. It is celebrated by lighting the candles of a candelabrum (candle holder) with nine branches, called a Menorah, playing the dreidel game, eating gelt, cooking food etc. Because the festival lasts eight days, every night, one candle is lit, until all eight candles are lit together on the final night of the festival (see the picture).
If you’re wondering if there are eight or nine candles in the Menorah – here’s the explanation – there are actually nine, but the eight represent each day of the festival and the ninth candle in the Menorah, which is either elevated or is shorter than the others, is used to light the other eight candles, and is called the Shamash.
When is Hanukkah this year?
This year it started on the 22nd of December and will end on the 30th of December.
WORDS TO KNOW:
Menorah – Hebrew for “lamp,”
Candelabrum – candle holder with multiple holders .
Dreidel – four-sided spinning top
Gelt – chocolate coins