Have you found yourself asking what is Hanukkah and why is it celebrated? Learn why Hanukkah the Festival of Lights is remembered and celebrated.
Hanukkah The Festival of Lights
This is our first year celebrating Hanukkah. In researching facts and traditions, I realized that Hanukkah is about remembering a military accomplishment and a miracle that happened. I liken it to the 4th of July minus a miracle.
Even if you choose not to celebrate Hanukkah, you will better understand why your friends and family do. A great way to spread love and kindness easily this year is to step outside of your traditions and learn a bit more about Hanukkah and what it actually is.
What is Hanukkah and why is it celebrated?
Get ready to read and learn all about Hanukkah! In order to fully understand, it’s important to immerse ourselves in a little bit of Hanukkah history.
Hanukkah is an 8-day celebration that brings remembrance and focuses on the Second Temple in Jerusalem. During the second century B.C., the Jews rose up against those who were oppressing them and it’s now known as the Maccabean Revolt. It also celebrates a miracle that happened during this time, where a day’s supply of oil allowed the menorah in the rededicated Temple to remain lit for eight days. This is why Hanukkah is celebrated. You can read more about the Hanukkah story over at Chabad.org.
Hanukkah spelling is it spelled Hanukkah or Chanukah?
This is where it gets pretty interesting. Technically, both sayings and spellings can be correct. It turns out that the Jewish word Hanukkah doesn’t easily translate into English for others. Due to this, it’s created this other spelling of Chanukah. The most popular way to spell and say it is Hanukkah, although you’ll hear it said both ways. Hanukkah in Hebrew
Hanukkah, comes from the Hebrew word for “dedication,” “consecration” or “inauguration. To wish someone a Happy Hanukkah in Hebrew you say “Chag Urim Sameach” or you can simply say “Chag Sameach”(Happy Hanukkah)
How many days is Hanukkah?
There are 8 days and nights that are celebrated in Hanukkah. For the year 2019, the celebration of Hanukkah will start on at sundown on December 22 and last until December 30th.
How to light the Menorah
Every night, a candle is lit and on the 8th night, all 8 candles should be lit and glowing. (most times, the Hanukkah candles are also lit going from left to right)While the candles are being lit, a prayer or blessing is being said as well. (this is tradition versus being a commandment)
Why are there 9 candles on the Menorah?
The Hanukkah candelabra holds 9 candles. On the 8 days and nights of Hanukkah, a new candle is lit every day. This means that on day 2, two candles should be lit; day 3 should have three candles lit, etc. The 8 candles are meant to showcase the total days that the lantern stayed lit and the 9th candle is known as the shamash which is the one candle that is used to light them all.
The lighting of the candles typically takes place at night once the stars start to show and while the candles might not stay lit the whole night, they’re expected to stay lit for a considerable amount of time, no less than a half-hour.
Is Hanukkah in the Bible?
If you’re familiar with the Bible, then you might already know that the word Hanukkah is not mentioned at all in the Bible. However, there is mention of Hanukkah in the first and second books of Maccabees, but those books are not in the bible to read. (These books are two of the seven books that were left out of the Old Testament of the King James Version of the Bible as well.)
While Hanukkah and the Maccabees go together and can be read, they’re not included in the Bible at all.
What is included in the Bible about Hanukkah can be found in the New Testament and is referred to as the Feast of Dedication. As you can see from the excerpt below, this is what you’ll find if you’re reading John in the New Testament of the Bible.
John 10:22–23 “It was the Feast of the Dedication[ at Jerusalem. 23 It was winter, and Yeshua/Jesus was walking in the temple, in Solomon’s porch.”
Now that you’ve gotten the history of Hanukkah and learned a bit about it, let’s take a look at a few other interesting facts that are tied into Hanukkah, which is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.
Why is Hanukkah called the Festival of Lights?
Hanukkah is called the Festival of Lights due to the 8 lights (candles) of the Hanukkah Menorah that are lit. Giving light to what tends to be the darkest nights of the year. Other ways that you can see this being the case is also because the menorah being lit up with 8 candles can be quite beautiful and brightly lit as well.
Why is Hanukkah called the Feast of Dedication?
Hanukkah is called the Feast of Dedication because it celebrates the Maccabees’ victory over Greek oppression and the rededication of the Temple. It is also referred to as the Festival of Dedication.
What is the miracle of Hanukkah?
The miracle of Hanukkah is that there was just a day’s supply of oil for the menorah in the rededicated Temple in Jerusalem. But, by a miracle of Yahweh/God, it continued to burn for eight days, till new oil was made available.
What gifts do you give for Hanukkah?
Traditionally, gifts were not a part of Hanukkah. Instead gelt — a small amount of money or chocolate coins — was given to children. However, gift giving really started to become popular in the 50’s in the United States. Before that time, gifts were not really given but money and chocolate were.
Ultimately, it’s up to the household to decide if they want to give gifts or presents at all. There are definitely no requirements for giving gifts. It’s more of a kindness act or something that falls in line with the tradition.
- Lighting the menorah
- Play the Dreidel game
Hanukkah Traditional Food
- Latkes (potato pancakes)
- Bumuelos (also called loukoumades)
- Kugel (made with noodles or potatoes)
- Sufganiyot (jelly-filled donuts)
- Matzo Ball Soup
- Challah bread
- Gefilte fish
- DIY Menorah Kids Craft
- Rustic Star of David Craft
- Dreidel Garland Craft for Hanukkah
- Quilled Hanukkah Menorah
If you are looking for more Hanukkah fun, the Hanukkah Bear Unit Study is a great way for kids to feel included in Hanukkah preparation.
Celebrating Hanukkah is a great way bring remembrance, and honor the past. If you arrived here looking to educate yourself more about Hanukkah, hopefully, this post answers the question that you were searching for. And if you know someone who celebrates Hanukkah, consider talking to them about it as well. Starting that open communication with your loved one and friends can be a great way to grasp an even better understanding of how they celebrate as well.