Celebrate Chanukah

Edited by Robbi, Anonymous, Lynn, Eng and 1 other

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Chanukah or Hanukkah

Many religions have a festival of lights – among others, Christians have Christmas, Hindus have Diwali and the Jewish faith has Chanukah or Hanukkah, (it can be spelled either way).

Chanukah celebrates the triumph of the light of faith over the forces of darkness. This year, 2013, Hanukkah begins on the evening of November 27 and runs for eight days to Thursday, December 5.

The History of Chanukah

In 167 BCE, Antiochus IV, attacked Jerusalem. He outlawed many of the religious practices and customs of the Jews, finally outlawing Judaism altogether. He took over the Temple, erected an alter to Zeus and defiled the Temple by sacrificing pigs on the alter. With these actions, Antiochus provoked a great rebellion, and by 165 BCE, the Jews had liberated the Temple.

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To celebrate these events, Judah Maccabee, the Jewish leader, ordered the cleansing of the Temple and the building of a new alter. As the story goes, the Temple menorah was supposed to burn every day and night. But there was only enough undefiled oil for one day, and it would take eight days to prepare a fresh supply of the kosher oil required. They lit the menorah and a miracle occurred - the menorah stayed alight for eight days and nights. And so the festival of Hanukkah was born.

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How Did People Celebrate Chanukah Historically?

  1. 1
    Lighting the Menorah - The menorah was lit in every household to spread the word that for all those who stand up for justice and truth, God performs His miracles.
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  2. 2
    It was said at the time, the Maccabees chased away dark forces with their swords, and during Hanukkah, we chase away the dark forces by lighting the candles of the menorah.
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  3. 3
    Every evening of the eight-day festival, the candles or oil-based lights are illuminated shortly after sunset, with the exceptions of Friday, when the candles are lit before sunset, and Saturday, when they are lit after dark.
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  4. 4
    Families each have their own traditions about who lights the candles.
    In some households, the head of the family lights them for everyone; in others, each family member lights their own or allows the children to light them.
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Today's Hanukkah

  1. 1
    The eight days include daily rituals, with some being performed within the family and others within the larger community.
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  2. 2
    People still go to work, but may come home early so they can light the menorah just after sunset.
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  3. 3
    Although there isn't any religious requirement for children to stay home from school, the schools in Israel usually close from the second day to the end of Chanukah.
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  4. 4
    Families often give each other small gifts or money called Hanukkah "gelt" which are often chocolate coins.
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  5. 5
    Families also often play dreidel games.
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  6. 6
    Partly because the miracle was about olive oil, many of the foods eaten during Hanukkah are fried in oil, although many people still prefer chicken fat.
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  7. 7
    Latkes or potato pancakes and sufganiyot or jelly doughnuts are traditionally served.
    You'll find latkes all over America, but hardly anywhere in Israel. Since latkes are made at home, they couldn't keep bakers and vendors busy, so in the 1920's the trade unions decided doughnuts should replace latkes for sound commercial reasons.
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  8. 8
    There are many other traditions having to do with Chanukah, so if you want to know more, ask your Jewish friends or Rabbi Andrea.
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What Chanukah Means

It was always meant to publicize the miracle that happened long ago, so illuminate the lights of Chanukah and spread the spiritual message.

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Article Info

Categories : Judaism

Recent edits by: Eng, Lynn, Anonymous

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