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Celebration of Hanukkah

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A menorah and a dreidel, both an extremely important part of the holiday.

A menorah and a dreidel, both an extremely important part of the holiday.

Pexels

Pexels

A menorah and a dreidel, both an extremely important part of the holiday.

Aveline Alarcon, Staff Writer

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The Holidays are right around the corner and despite the fact that the majority of people celebrate Christmas, there are a handful of people around the world who don’t. Many people’s religion comes with their own holiday.

Hanukkah is an 8 day holiday, mainly celebrated among the Jewish community, since most people don’t celebrate Hanukkah, little is known about the holiday. The celebration this year will be held on December 12 and will end on December 20.

  1. What is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah, also known as Chanukah, is the Jewish Festival of Lights. Throughout the 8 days people will eat fried foods such as potato cakes and jelly filled donuts, as games are played. Hanukkah is typically held within the month of December and late November but the 8 days it falls on varies annually. The holiday celebrates the rededication of The temple of Jerusalem by the Maccabees and also how a menorah burned for 8 days when they only had enough oil for one day.

  1.  Hanukkah is not the Jewish Christmas

Though both holidays consist of family time and religion, Hanukkah is not the Jewish Christmas. There is no significant gift giving period throughout the 8 days. There is, however, a tradition known as gelt, which is when money as well as chocolate coins are given to children.

  1. The Dreidel

The dreidel is a four-sided spinning top, each side of the dreidel has a letter from the Hebrew alphabet, נ‎ (Nun), ג‎ (Gimel), ה (He), ש (Shin). All the letters put together form the phrase “נס גדול היה שם” or ‎ “A great miracle happened here.” The dreidel is used to play games throughout the holiday. A player will put a coin or chocolate in a pot and if the dreidel lands on נ (Nun) then the player wins nothing. If the dreidel lands on ג (Gimel) ‎ then the player wins the pot. If the dreidel lands on ה (He) the player wins half the pot. If the dreidels lands on ש (Shin) then the player must put another item in the pot.

  1. The Hanukiah Menorah

The Hanukiah consist of 9 branches, the middle candle is normally used to light all the other candles. The middle candle, known as the Shamash, must be set either higher or lower than all the other candles. The Hanukiah should be lit each night the stars appear. It is prohibited to read the Torah, eat a fixed meal, or do anything intoxicating until the candle is lit.

  1. Olive Oil

Oil is very important during Hanukkah celebration. Menorahs were traditionally lit using olive oil. In order to purify the temple, the maccabees needed to keep the sacred menorah running. They only had enough oil to keep the light running for 1 day but miraculously it burned on for 8 days. Despite it rarely being used to light the candles on the menorah, the oil is still used to cook Hanukkah dishes such a jelly filled donuts and potato pancakes.

  1. Lightings

Lighting of the candles typically takes place over night. The center candle is used to light each candle. During each lighting, people say prayers, read the torah and even play games such as the dreidel.

  1.  On the first day of Hanukkah people recite the following blessing;

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.

(Blessed are You, O Lord Our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.)

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’olam, she’asah nisim l’avoteinu, b’yamim haheim bazman hazeh.

(Blessed are You, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who made miracles for our forefathers in those days at this time.)

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’olam, shehekheyanu, v’kiyamanu vehegianu lazman hazeh.

(Blessed are You, O Lord Our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us and brought us to this season.)

  1. Hanukkah around the world

Hanukkah isn’t celebrated around the world like it’s celebrated in the United States. In Israel, Hanukkah isn’t considered a major holiday, it’s considered a minor holiday. Despite the fact that it’s considered a minor holiday, the people of Israel still celebrate it.

  1. On the other 7 days, jews will recite the following

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.

(Blessed are You, O Lord Our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.)

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’olam, she’asah nisim l’avoteinu, b’yamim haheim bazman hazeh.

(Blessed are You, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who made miracles for our forefathers in those days at this time.)

  1. The days Hanukkah is celebrated on vary by year.

The dates of Hanukkah are determined by the Hebrew calendar. Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of Kislev and it concludes on either the 2nd or 3rd day of Tevet. Sometimes Hanukkah will begin towards the end of November and sometimes it will begin towards the end of December.

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