History and Traditions Of Hanukkah

History and Traditions Of Hanukkah
Image Source- Pixabay

You may be familiar with families that share Hanukkah’s greetings or come together at this time to light the menorah of Hanukkah. Yet this holy festival is so much more you do not know! Read on to know the traditions of Hanukkah.

What Is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah marks the rededication, which took place in the 160s BC, of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, Israel. Hanukkah lasts for eight days, meaning ‘dedication’ in Hebrew and Aramaic, and honors the miracle of victory over daunting odds. With the illumination of the menorah, sharing presents, and taking part in several traditional foods and sports, Chanukah is celebrated.

When Hanukkah Is Celebrated?

Hanukkah lasts for eight days and starts on the eve of the 25th of Kislev, the Jewish calendar month that takes place at the same time as December. Since the Jewish calendar is lunar, Kislev will occur between late November and late December at any time. This year’s festivities will commence on December 10th at sunset and conclude on the night of December 18th.

History Of Hanukkah Festival

The Maccabean Rebellion against the Syrian-Greek army is commemorated by Hanukkah. Mattathias the Hasmonean, according to the biblical text, launched the revolt by refusing to worship the Greek gods. In fact, Hanukkah honors the triumph of Judah Maccabee over the Seleucids. Rabbinic history says that only an amount of oil was discovered by the triumphant Maccabees to hold the commemorative Menorah lit for one night. The Menorah, however, miraculously remained illuminated for eight hours.

Traditions Of Hanukkah

The most famous traditions of Hanukkah is the lighting of a memorial menorah. These will typically be found in many Jewish faith households, while Jewish organisations and groups as a whole may have larger menorahs displayed in public organisations. Menorahs are first lit with a primary candle, and for each night, the candle is used to light an additional candle. So the main candle and the additional candle are lit for the first night, two additional candles are lit for the second night, and so on for the eighth night. Candles are attached to the menorah from right to left, but lit from the left-most candle every night.

As the candles are lit, the blessing of Judaism is also sung before and during the process.

In addition to lighting the menorah, in recent years other celebrations of Hanukkah have become popular. During the Hanukkah several families offer gifts, usually with one given every night. A Dreidel game is a popular way of celebrating a holiday, a spinning top engraved in Hebrew letters. In addition, popular Hanukkah dishes such as potato latkes or Sufganiyot, a donut filled with strawberry jelly, can be cooked. Chocolate gelt coins are also distributed during the holiday season.

Image Source – Pixabay

How Hanukkah Is Celebrated?

To mark the miracle of Jewish families around the world in the second century BC, lit the hanukkah candles on each of the eight nights of a holidays, devote themselves to God and tell the miracle storeys. Let’s go deeper into this!

1. Lighting Candles

The symbolic menorah is the most important tradition of the festival. The majority of Jewish families will have these at home, while Jewish communities or groups will be seen larger menorahs in public areas. The Menorahs will first be illuminated with an elemental candle from the first day of Hanukkah, and then each night the candle will be lit by an additional candle. This way the main candle and additional candle will be lit on the first night; two more candles on the second night will be lit, and so on until the 8th night. From right to left, the candles are added to the menorah, but each day they are flashed from the left to the right. Judaic prayers are also sung before and after the lighting of the candles.

History and Traditions Of Hanukkah
Image Source- Pixabay

2. Preparing Latkes

The fried food is considered symbolic of the oil used to enlighten the menorah during the Hanukkah era.. Hanukkah’s traditional dishes such as Latkes are prepared. Latkes are pancakes of fried potato, consumed with applesauce or sour cream. Sufganiyot, a strawberry-jelly doughnut, is a dessert that is also very popular today.

History and Traditions Of Hanukkah
Image Source – Pixabay

3. Playing Dreidel

A Dreidel game is a usual way of celebrating a holiday. Tradition has it that the Jews did not learn the Torah until the Maccabees revolted. Thus they read the holy text on the pretext of spinning dreidels!

Dreidel is a Yiddish word that comes from the word ‘drei.’ The dreidel has four Hebrew letters on it and a particular spinning top for Hanukkah. Nun, Gimel, Hay and Peh are the letters in Israel. Nun, Gimel, Hay, and Shin are everywhere else. These letters reflect the sentence ‘Nes Gadol Hayah Sham,’ which means, in Hebrew, ‘there happened a great miracle.’

History and Traditions Of Hanukkah
Image Source- Pixabay

4. Singing Songs, Gelt, and Gifts

Either Gelt or gold-packed chocolate coins is offered to everyone. These are used to bet and players are winning or losing the pot on which side the dreidel lands are!

There is a song about the dreidel that is sung. His first verse is as follows:

“I have a little dreidel. I made it out of clay.
And when it’s dry and ready, oh dreidel I shall play.
Oh, dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made you out of clay.
And when you’re dry and ready, oh dreidel we shall play.”

5. Reciting Blessings

Before lighting the Hanukkah candles, blessings are being sung. There are three blessings here. Traditionally, for the seven nights that follow, the Hanukkah candle lighting service includes reciting all three blessings on the first night, and only the first and second blessings.

In Hanukkah, people also have a holiday tradition of giving and receiving gifts where they can give eight small gifts, a traditional one for Hanukkah night, or a fantastic one for kids.

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