Hanukkah is here with us and this year, the eight-day festival will be marked from December 18 to 26. Hanukkah is part of the Jewish festival also known as the Festival of Lights. It commemorates the victory of the Jewish people over the Greeks in the Maccabean War and the rededication of the second temple of Jerusalem. The festival lasts eight days and starts on day 25 of Kislev and ends on the second day of Tevet. Kislev and Tevet are months in the Jewish calendar. The observance is also known as Chanukah, but Hanukkah is more widely known.
History of Hanukkah Begins
Judaism is one of the oldest religions in the world and the first of the Abrahamic religions, wherein the conception of God remains a common feature. It is often difficult to separate historical fact from myth in ancient stories, but the Jewish texts and scriptures are a valuable source of information. They give us hints about the social and economic conditions prevalent at the time they were written. Hanukkah (meaning ‘dedication’ in Hebrew), also known as Chanukah, is a festival that began around 164 B.C.
According to Jewish beliefs, the festival has its roots in the story of the rebellion of the Jewish people against their Syrian-Greek oppressors. The area was then a part of the Seleucid empire. The Seleucids were not tolerant of the religious views of Jewish people. They tried to forcefully convert them into idol worship and make sacrifices to Greek gods. This enraged the Jewish community to such an extent they took up arms in retaliation. This resulted in the revolt of the Maccabees, a group of Jewish warriors, who defeated the Seleucids, took control of Judea, and reclaimed the temple.
The story goes that when the victors entered the temple to light the menorah (a multi-branched candelabra and an important symbol in the Jewish religion), they could only find one day’s worth of oil. Miraculously, this oil lasted for eight days until they were able to bring more. The eight days are celebrated annually to commemorate the miracle of the oil burning for eight days and the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Today, the festival is celebrated throughout the world by the Jewish diaspora.
Hanukkah Begins timeline
Antiochus IV ascends to the Seleucid throne and puts a stop to the daily offering at the Jewish temple.
Judah, the leader of the rebellion against Antiochus, starts the Hasmonean Jewish Kingdom.
The Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy succeeds in recapturing the second Jewish Temple.
The Seleucids recognize an informal Jewish autonomy and there begins a period of religious, cultural, and social development.
Hanukkah Begins FAQs
What is Hanukkah and why is it celebrated?
Hanukkah is a Jewish festival commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem and the victory of Jews over the Greeks. It is celebrated by the lighting of candles on each day of the festival.
What are five traditions of Hanukkah?
The five traditional activities during Hanukkah or Chanukah are: lighting the menorah, playing dreidel, eating gelt, baking delicious food, and enjoying the fun of sending and receiving Hanukkah gifts.
How long is Hanukkah celebrated?
Hanukkah is celebrated for eight nights.
How to Observe Hanukkah Begins
Light a menorah
The lighting of the menorah is an important Jewish ritual throughout the week. The light of the menorah symbolizes an eternal flame. It is a symbol that reminds us of the miracle of life.
Play a dreidel
The dreidel (a four-sided spinning top) is a much-enjoyed game in Hanukkah traditions, especially by children. It was created to study the “Torah,” the holy book of Judaism, and learn Hebrew in secret. Buy a dreidel learn and play the game with your friends.
Send gifts to loved ones
Sending gifts to your loved ones is an important aspect of Hanukkah customs. Make the gift as traditional and meaningful as possible for the person you are gifting.
5 Intriguing Facts About Judaism
It’s the oldest monotheistic religion
Judaism is the world's oldest monotheistic religion, and it dates back nearly 4,000 years.
Yahweh the One God
According to Judaism, there is only one God, and Jews call him Yahweh.
The Jewish people began as slaves
According to the book of Exodus, the Jewish people began as slaves in Egypt.
The 613 Commandments
The Law of Moses has about 613 commandments.
The Star of David
The Star of David is the religious symbol of Judaism.
Why Hanukkah Begins is Important
It has a rich history
Hanukkah has roots in medieval history. We love it when a celebration can remind us of old stories, and we love it even better when the story represents real people.
We love underdog victories
Who doesn't love the victory of small groups against larger adversaries? Hanukkah is a day when a small group of Jewish people triumphed over much larger Greek forces.
A day to celebrate
Hanukkah is the celebration of victory. It is a week filled with light, songs, people, gifts, and much more. Try a few traditional foods such as ‘sufganiyot’, a jam-filled doughnut, and ‘latkes’, fried potato fritters.
Hanukkah Begins dates