Hanukkah (Hebrew: חֲנֻכָּה, usually spelled חנוכה pronounced [χanuˈka] in Modern Hebrew, also romanized as Chanukah or Chanuka), also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the re-dedication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar.
Did you know these facts?
- Hanukkah is not considered a significant religious holiday when compared to other Jewish holidays.
- The menorah holds nine candles. The center candle is the shamus or servant. It is used to light the 8 Hanukkah candles.
- The Hanukkah candles are strictly for pleasure. They are not to be utilized for any useful or productive purpose. The shamus is available, so the Hanukkah candles aren’t accidentally used to light a fire in the fireplace or another useful purpose.
- Gift giving is not traditionally a part of the Hanukkah holiday.
- Playing dreidel is a gambling game popular during the Hanukkah holiday.
- Fried foods are traditional during the holiday, representing the oil used to light the lamps.
- During Hanukkah, families eat latkes(potato pancakes) and sufganiot (jelly donuts), or other foods which are fried in oil, to celebrate and commemorate the miracle of the Festival of Lights.
- In Yemen, children went from house to house, tins in hand, to collect wicks for the Hanukkah Menorah.
- In Germany, the eighth and last night of Hanukkah used to be very special. All the leftover wicks and oil were lit in giant bonfires. People sang songs and danced around the fire, often until the small hours of the night.
- Savings bonds, checks, and small chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil-these are the modern incarnations of the traditional gift known as Hanukkah gelt. “Gelt” is a Yiddish term for “money”.
- 17.5 Million Donuts Are Eaten In Israel During Hannukah. During Hanukkah, Israelis feast on “sufganiyot”—oily jelly donuts—as the traditional holiday dessert.
- The Dreidel Was Used As A Cover-Up For Studying The Torah. Studying the Torah was outlawed in ancient Greece, so the Jewish people played with the dreidel in order to fool the Greeks if they were caught.
- Gifts Are Only Given Because It’s Close To Christmas. Gift-giving isn’t a traditional part of Hanukkah, but kids were given gelt money as an incentive to study the Torah.
- There Are 16 Ways To Spell Hanukkah. Since Hanukkah is transliterated from Hebrew letters, there are many different ways to spell the name of the holiday. The most common in English are “Hanukkah” or “Chanukah.”
- Hanukkah Is Celebrated At The White House. Jimmy Carter was the first president to take official notice of the holiday in 1979, and each president since has recognized Hanukkah with a special menorah-lighting ceremony.
- Harry Truman was the first president to celebrate Hanukkah at the White House. In 1951, he accepted a Menorah as a gift from the Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion.
- What is Hanukkah? The word Hanukkah means “dedication.” The holiday commemorates the triumph of a band of rebel Jews known as the Maccabees in reclaiming their temple from the Greek-Syrians.
- Grand Army Plaza in New York Reportedly Has the Largest Menorah in the World. This year you can see the lighting of the 32 feet high and 4,000 pound Menorah every night from December 2nd to December 9th.