Another big holiday that is celebrated during the month of December is Hanukkah. Many people know that it is a Jewish holiday, but may not know the history around it. I thought this would be a good holiday tradition this month to research.
Hanukkah is referred to as the Festival of Lights which lasts for eight days and nights. It is a celebration of two miracles, the great Jewish military victory and a miraculous supply of oil for the Temple. In Hebrew, the word "Hanukkah" means "dedication." The holiday celebrates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E.
Hanukkah starts on the Hebrew calendar date of 25 Kislev. The secular dates vary from year to year. This year, Hanukkah starts on December 6th and will end on the 14th. The Hanukkah Menorah holds 9 candles, with the first candle being lit on the very first night. While there are only eight days of lighted candles, the middle candle is used to light the candles each night. It is tradition to light the candles from left to right, with the newest candle being in the leftmost spot. This is because the first night is considered the most important night and the candle for the first night would always be lit before the others. It is also customary to place the lit Hanukkiyan in a window so that passersby would see it and be reminded of the miracle.
The holiday itself commemorates the miracle of the oil. As the story goes, once the Jewish revolutionaries were able to retake the Temple from the Syrians, they wanted to rededicate it to God as well as restore its ritual purity. To do this, eight days of oil were needed, but they were only able to find one day's worth. Even though they only had enough oil for the one day, they lit the menorah anyway and miraculously the oil lasted for eight full days.
Wow, what a great story! Faith is so relevant in any religion isn't it?! I am so glad that I researched this. I too was one of those people that knew what they did during Hanukkah, but did not know why. Now I do!
Ariela Pelaia. (Unknown). What is Hanukkah. Available: http://judaism.about.com/od/holidays/a/hanukkah.htm. Last accessed 02/19/2015.
Author Unknown. (Unknown). What is Hanukkah. Available: http://www.ifcj.org/site/PageNavigator/eng/inside/hanukkah. Last accessed 02/19/2015.
Reprinted with permission from