Yesterday, December 2nd, began the Jewish Holiday of Hanukkah. Hanukkah is a Jewish festival that last eight days, beings on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, usually falls in November or December, and commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the second century B.C.
The word Hanukkah means “dedication” in Hebrew and, according to history, it is when the Jews rose up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. As many know the object/symbol of the Menorah, the holiday is often called the Festival of Lights and is celebrated by lighting this object, as well as participating in eating traditional foods and games, and exchanging gifts.
Here is an account of the Hanukkah story and history from History.com:
“The events that inspired the Hanukkah holiday took place during a particularly turbulent phase of Jewish history. Around 200 B.C., Judea—also known as the Land of Israel—came under the control of Antiochus III, the Seleucid king of Syria, who allowed the Jews who lived there to continue practicing their religion. His son, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, proved less benevolent: Ancient sources recount that he outlawed the Jewish religion and ordered the Jews to worship Greek gods. In 168 B.C., his soldiers descended upon Jerusalem, massacring thousands of people and desecrating the city’s holy Second Temple by erecting an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs within its sacred walls. Led by the Jewish priest Mattathias and his five sons, a large-scale rebellion broke out against Antiochus and the Seleucid monarchy. When Matthathias died in 166 B.C., his son Judah, known as Judah Maccabee (“the Hammer”), took the helm; within two years the Jews had successfully driven the Syrians out of Jerusalem, relying largely on guerilla warfare tactics. Judah called on his followers to cleanse the Second Temple, rebuild its altar and light its menorah—the gold candelabrum that’s seven branches represented knowledge and creation and were meant to be kept burning every night. According to the Talmud, one of Judaism’s most central texts, Judah Maccabee and the other Jews who took part in the rededication of the Second Temple witnessed what they believed to be a miracle. Even though there was only enough untainted olive oil to keep the menorah’s candles burning for a single day, the flames continued flickering for eight nights, leaving them time to find a fresh supply. This wondrous event inspired the Jewish sages to proclaim a yearly eight-day festival. (The first Book of the Maccabees tells another version of the story, describing an eight-day celebration that followed the rededication but making no reference to the miracle of the oil).”
Some Hanukkah traditions include lighting a new branch of the menorah for every passing day of the eight day holiday and reciting blessings during the lighting, having your menorah displayed in the window for all to see and remember the miracle of the holiday; playing with dreidels, having all your foods fried in oil, and exchanging gifts.
Happy Hanukkah to all our friends out there who celebrate! We hope you have an amazing and blessed holiday!