Hanukkah
This portal was curated by:

HANUKKAH

Hanukkah is Judaism’s winter Festival of Lights, answering the darkness of the cold season with warm flames. Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greeks in 164 BCE and the rededication of the Jewish Temple to God — a dedication that was crowned by the lighting of the Temple’s menorah.

The menorah was a seven-branched candelabra that lit the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. It was lit only by specially, ritually-pure olive oil — olive oil that took more than a week to prepare. As legend has it, after the Maccabees drove the Greeks and their idols from the Temple, they cleaned and rededicated the space and managed to find but one cruse of this special oil, an amount that would traditionally have lit the menorah for just one day. But, miraculously, this one small jar of oil burned for eight whole days, allowing the menorah to remain alight until new oil could be prepared.

Another way Jews commemorate the miracle of the oil is by eating fried foods. The two most traditional are latkes (fried potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts).

Before the Maccabees drove out the Greeks and rededicated the Temple, Jews were forbidden from worshipping their God or even studying Torah. But they studied their sacred texts anyway, and to hide what they were doing, would quickly put the books (then scrolls) away and take out little tops and pretend to be playing with them.
DATABASES
Hanukkah is Judaism’s winter Festival of Lights, answering the darkness of the cold season with warm flames. Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greeks in 164 BCE and the rededication of the Jewish Temple to God — a dedication that was crowned by the lighting of the Temple’s menorah.

The menorah was a seven-branched candelabra that lit the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. It was lit only by specially, ritually-pure olive oil — olive oil that took more than a week to prepare. As legend has it, after the Maccabees drove the Greeks and their idols from the Temple, they cleaned and rededicated the space and managed to find but one cruse of this special oil, an amount that would traditionally have lit the menorah for just one day. But, miraculously, this one small jar of oil burned for eight whole days, allowing the menorah to remain alight until new oil could be prepared.

Another way Jews commemorate the miracle of the oil is by eating fried foods. The two most traditional are latkes (fried potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts).

Before the Maccabees drove out the Greeks and rededicated the Temple, Jews were forbidden from worshipping their God or even studying Torah. But they studied their sacred texts anyway, and to hide what they were doing, would quickly put the books (then scrolls) away and take out little tops and pretend to be playing with them.
At Hanukkah, Jewish children look forward to receiving small discs of chocolate, usually wrapped in gold- or silver-colored foil to resemble coins. Known as gelt, they’re sometimes used for betting during dreidel games but are often just enjoyed as a treat.

Historically, however, gelt was anything but kid stuff. In Eastern Europe, Jewish families would give a few extra coins to teachers, butchers, and other independent workers as a sort of end-of-year tip. By the late 1800s, when survival was less fraught, families began giving small tokens to their children at Hanukkah.
Although it does often fall around the same time of year, Hanukkah is not just the Jewish equivalent of Christmas. This yearly celebration (Hanukkah will take place on November 28 to December 6 in 2021) is actually a commemoration of a religiously significant event—namely, a successful revolt led by the Maccabees (i.e., the heroes of Hanukkah) against their Syrian-Greek oppressors, and the subsequent rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The story goes that in the aftermath of the revolt, the desecrated temple had only enough oil for one ritual nightly lighting of the menorah. However, by a miracle from God, that small amount of oil was able to last for eight full days, giving the Jewish worshippers enough time to procure more. Today, Hanukkah (also known as the Festival of Lights) is a happy occasion when families and friends gather together to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness by lighting candles for eight nights and enjoying some of the festive Hanukkah traditions described below.
Hanukkah, (Hebrew: “Dedication”) also spelled Ḥanukka, Chanukah, or Chanukkah, also called Feast of Dedication, Festival of Lights, or Feast of the Maccabees, Jewish festival that begins on Kislev 25 (usually in December, according to the Gregorian calendar) and is celebrated for eight days. Hanukkah reaffirms the ideals of Judaism and commemorates in particular the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem by the lighting of candles on each day of the festival. Although not mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures, Hanukkah came to be widely celebrated and remains one of the most popular Jewish religious observances. Hanukkah is celebrated from Monday, November 29 to Monday, December 6 in 2021.
Hanukkah commemorates the Maccabean (Hasmonean) victories over the forces of the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes (reigned 175–164 BCE) and the rededication of the Temple on Kislev 25, 164 BCE. Led by Mattathias and his son Judas Maccabeus (died c. 161 BCE), the Maccabees were the first Jews who fought to defend their religious beliefs rather than their lives. According to I Maccabees, a text of the Apocrypha (writings excluded from the Jewish canon but included in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Old Testament canons), Antiochus had invaded Judaea, tried to Hellenize the Jews, and desecrated the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Following the Jewish victory in a three-year struggle against Antiochus, Judas ordered the cleansing and restoration of the Temple. After it was purified, a new altar was installed and dedicated on Kislev 25. Judas then proclaimed that the dedication of the restored Temple should be celebrated every year for eight days beginning on that date. In II Maccabees the celebration is compared to the festival of Sukkoth (the Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Booths), which the Jews were unable to celebrate because of the invasion of Antiochus. Hanukkah, therefore, emerged as a celebration of the dedication, as the word itself suggests.
Visit our special guest curator
Related Portals: