What to know about America’s most popular Jewish holiday
Hanukkah means “dedication” in Hebrew
The holiday celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in 2nd century BCE when, after years of suffering oppression and religious persecution by the Syrian-Greeks, the Jews took back their Temple.
The Miracle of Hanukkah
- The Jews had just one jar of oil to light the Temple menorah. It was expected to last only one day, but it lasted 8 — leaving them time to find more oil.
- Hanukkah lasts eight nights.
- The holiday is celebrated by lighting candles on a nine-branched menorah.
- One more candle is lit each night until all eight are lit on the final night.
- The middle (“helper”) candle is used to light the other candles.
- Though a relatively minor Jewish holiday compared to others, such as Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) & Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), Hanukkah is widely celebrated.
- Besides lighting the menorah nightly, Jewish people eat foods cooked in oil such as sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) & latkes (potato pancakes), & children play a dreidel (a 4-sided spinning top) game.
ONE MORE THING: How do you spell it? Depends on whom you ask. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, there are 24 English spellings of the holiday; the most popular ones seem to be Hanukkah, Chanukah, Hanukah, & Chanukkah.
The origin of the word: Hanukkah
Good explainer: READ MORE
by Jenna Lee,