Happy Hanukkah 2017! Why are the candles lit for the Jewish festival and why is it sometimes called Chanukah?
The word Hanukkah means ‘rededication’ and honors the Jews’ struggle for religious freedom more than 2,500 years ago
HANUKKAH or Chanukah is a Jewish festival which is celebrated by lighting one candle a day for eight days.
It’s all starting TODAY, but how did it first begin? Here’s everything you need to know…
What is Hanukkah?
An eight-day Jewish holiday celebrated in either November or December.
This year the Festival of Lights begins on the evening of Tuesday December 12 and ends of the evening of Wednesday December 20.
The holiday begins on the 25th day of Kislev – the ninth month of the year on the Hebrew calendar.
Games are often played at Hanukkah, and the most common involves a dreidel (type of spinning top) and is a popular way of helping children to remember the great miracle.
Jews observe the celebration by lighting one candle a day for eight days
What is the history behind Hanukkah?
The word means ‘rededication’ and honors the Jews’ struggle for religious freedom more than 2,500 years ago.
It dates back to two centuries before the beginning of Christianity.
Legend has it the leaders of a Jewish rebel army called the Maccabees rose up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors.
King Antiochus had taken control of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and ordered an altar to Zeus to be built.
Judaism and circumcision was banned and pigs were sacrificed.
The Jewish uprising was led by Judah Maccabee and lasted three years until the Maccabees seized Jerusalem.
Judaism’s text the Talmud says only pure olive oil with the seal of the high priest can be used for the Hanukiah.
They wanted to rededicate the temple but could only one container enough for one day.
However, miraculously it stayed alight for eight days – the time needed to get hold of a new supply of kosher oil.
Why do Jews light candles at Hanukkah?
On each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, a candle is lit in a menorah (candelabra) called a hanukkiyah.
While one legend says that the one container of oil stayed alight for eight days, another said that the uprising found eight iron spears and put candles in them, and used them for lighting up the temple.
The tradition is celebrated today, and the candles are typically lit left to right and placed in the front windows of houses.
Why is it sometimes called Chanukah?
In Hebrew, Hanukkah is pronounced with the letter ‘chet’ so it sounds like Chanukah.
The chet’s ‘ch’ sound is not enunciated like the ‘ch’ in child – and is more of a guttural sound.
It can be spelt Chanukah or Hanukkah.
What is traditional Hanukkah food?
Jews traditionally eat fried foods to honor the miracle temple oil.
‘Sufganiyot’ are round deep-fried jam or custard-filled donuts topped with powdered sugar.
They are from a yeast donut pastry mentioned in the Talmud.