Top 10 Facts Everyone Should Know About Hanukkah
Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish festival. Depending on the calendar the festival occurs in November or December. On Hanukkah, the Jewish commemorate the re-dedication of the temple. When the Syrian- Greeks destroyed all the Jewish rituals and tried to force them to worship their Gods they resisted.
However, a group of Jews known as the Maccabees went to war to fight for religious freedom and the restoration of the temple. They fought for three years before winning. They celebrated their victory by restoring the temple. They celebrated by lighting an oil lamp, which had oil that was only supposed to last one night. Miraculously it lasted eight days, which is why Hanukkah is still known as the Light Festival. They celebrate the day as a commemoration, and on that day they cook traditional fried food, dance a special prayer, and also buy gifts. Hanukkah serves as a historical observance as well as a spiritually significant one.
1. It is an 8-day Jewish festival
Hanukkah is an 8-day Jewish Festival that falls either in November or December depending on the calendar. This festival is created to celebrate the rededication of the second Temple of Jerusalem in the second century BC.
It is celebrated by lighting nine candles each night during Hanukkah on a Menorah and the middle candle is used to light other candles they call this Shamash. The nine candles on the Menorah are to represent the 8 days the oil lighted the lamb. They eat traditional food such as Latkes and exchange gifts.
2. The reason why Hanukkah lasts for 8 days
The Jewish festival Hanukkah lasts for 8 days because the Jewish wanted to commemorate the day they finished rebuilding the temple after it was destroyed by the Syrian Greeks.
This festival was influenced by the miracle that had taken place. Jewish after they had finished repairing the temple lit a lamp candle that had enough oil for one day. But miraculously the lamp lit for 8 days thus the Jewish prolonged the holiday for 8 days.
3. The type of food eaten during the Hanukkah festival
Throughout the holiday, Jewish families will enjoy traditional Hanukkah foods such as latkes, fried potato pancakes, and sufganiyot, fried jelly doughnuts.
Many Hanukkah foods are fried to commemorate the miracle that allowed one cruse of oil to provide light for eight days. Here’s a look at some more of this holiday’s symbolic foods, as well as some simple Hanukkah recipes.
4. Jews often exchange gifts during Hanukkah
Hanukkah is a big festival for the Jews they celebrate it by giving gifts such as books, food, toys, and more which are exchanged between family and friends to show appreciation and love to the Maccabees for fighting for the freedom of the Jews Religion.
They fought without giving up for three years and so much love and celebration is shown on that day to make them feel appreciated. It is said that before they used to give money to one another for Hanukkah but after Christianity became more popular, more American Jews began giving gifts instead of money.
5. During Hanukkah, there is a traditional game played called Dreidel
During Hanukkah, children tend to play a game called Dreidel, which is a traditional game. It is a four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side. The Hebrew letter on each side is nun, gimel hey, and shim. The goal of the game is that the best player is the one with the most tokens at the end.
This game was a symbol. One of the laws of the Greeks was to prohibit the Jews from studying Torah. And so they could use this game to confuse them when they were learning and Greek soldiers stepped him they could hide the book and bring out the game.
6. There is a special prayer said each night of Hanukkah
There is a special prayer called Shehecheyanu that is said every night of the Hanukkah festival as a sign of thanksgiving and expressing appreciation for the miracle of Hanukkah when an oil candle burned for eight days while they expected it would go for one night.
This prayer is said when lighting the Hanukkah Menorah. Nine candles are lit with the middle one used to light the other. You can find the prayer in the Jewish prayer book, they call it Siddur
7. Hanukkah is also referred to as the Festival of Lights
Hanukkah means dedication. This is because the Jews on that day were celebrating the rededication of the Holy Temple from the Syrian- Greeks. On that day they lit an oil lamp and the oil was expected to burn for a night but a miracle happened it lit for eight days. It’s from that they drew the name Festival of Lights.
8. Menorah is lit every night of the Hanukkah
The menorah is a seven-branched candelabrum that was used in the Tabernacle and the Temple in Jerusalem, according to the Hebrew Bible and later ancient sources. It has long represented the Jewish people and Judaism in both the Land of Israel and the Diaspora, and it is now featured on Israel’s national emblem. The symbol has also been discovered in ancient Samaritan, Christian, and Islamic communities artifacts.
However, the Hanukkah Menorah is a nine-branched Candelabra that is always lit on Hanukkah festive. It serves as a symbol of the oil that was used to light the second temple after the Maccabees won the war against the Syrian-Greek. Therefore, on the first night of Hanukkah, one menorah candle plus a “helper” candle known as the shammash is lit. Then they light two candles on the second night, three on the third night, and so on until all nine candles are lit on the eighth and final night.
9. Hanukkah story is told in the Apocrypha
If you are interested in knowing the Hanukkah story then you’re likely to find it in the Apocrypha. The story is in the first and second books of Maccabees. These books have all the history of the Jews starting with the Maccabees trying to restore the temple, the miraculous victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian- Greek and how they rededicate the temple.
10. Hanukkah is celebrated as a National holiday in Israel
Hanukkah is said to have a special significance in Israel since they celebrate it as a national holiday where the whole country joins in the festivity. This festival helps to remember the struggles for religious freedom and helps appreciate and recognize the values of the Jewish culture.
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