Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
Hanukkah: December 1
Hanukkah, meaning “dedication” in Hebrew, celebrates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Jews defeated the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks). It is an eight day and night tradition where one additional candle is lit each night on the menorah.
The history of Hanukkah dates back to 18 B.C.E. when the Seleucids took the Jewish Holy Temple from the Jewish people and dedicated it to the worship of the God Zeus. They subjugated the Jews to their rule by forcing them to idolize their Gods and eat pork. A small group of Jewish rebels (called the Maccabees or Hasmoneans) fought to defeat the powerful Seleucids, expelling them from their land. They reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to their G-d. In order to first purify the temple, they relit the Temple’s menorah with the intention of keeping it lit for eight days. However, they found only enough oil for one day. Miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days which gave rise to the celebration of Hanukkah to commemorate this event.
While not the most pivotal religious holiday among all Jewish observances, Hanukkah has taken on more of a significance in a lot of Western countries because of its proximity to Christmas. It’s a fun holiday for kids as they love eating the traditional foods like latkes (potato pancakes), playing the game dreidel and receiving gifts.
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