Shalom! Happy Hanukkah!
When: Dates vary. Evening of 8th December to 16th December 2012, November 27th to December 5th 2013.
Where: Jewish Countries.
Hanukkah (or Chanukah) is the Jewish Festival of Lights which dates back a time over 2500 years ago when Antiochus, the then King of Syria, wanted the Jewish people worship Greek gods.
Antiochus placed a statue of himself in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem and everyone was ordered to bow down before him. Some of the Jews rebelled and a 3 year war ensued destroying the temple but eventually reclaiming Jerusalem from the Syrians. Once the temple was rebuilt it was rededicated to God by the lighting of a lamp. The lamp only had enough oil to burn for one day but miraculously it burned for eight.
Since then it is traditional to light a candle on a special candelabra (a Menorah or Hanukkah) on each night of the festival, progressing to eight candles on the final night. A Menorah usually consists of 9 branches. The extra branch (a shamash), usually above or below the rest, is lit first each night for the purpose of lighting the others.
It is also traditional at Hanukkah to play a kind of betting game with sweets and a dreidel (a four-sided spinning top). Each side of the dreidel bears a letter of the Hebrew alphabet which together form the acronym for “a great miracle happened there”. These letters also form the rules of the game where players place pieces of their allotted pot of sweets into a central pot and take them out of the pot according to which letter is facing upwards after their turn at spinning the dreidel.
Hanukkah lasts for eight nights, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which is usually some time from late November to late December. The first candle of the Menorah is lit at nightfall on the eve of the festival’s first day.
Tell us all about your Hanukkah experiences You can share your pics and videos on our facebook page too! Or if you just want to say hi, or leave a comment for any other reason, we’d love to hear from you.
Food & Drink
Fried foods like “sufganiyot” (jam doughnuts) and “latkes” (potato pancakes) are especially popular at Hanukkah as they are cooked in oil and are symbolic of the miracle of the oil in the lamp in the temple of Jerusalem. Drink He’brew Jewbellation beer, a now very successful beer brand that started out as a joke between 2 Jewish teenagers in San Francisco.
Travel to Israel
Enjoy your trip! And when you’re home we’d love you to come back and tell us all about it!