Here is some background information about the Jewish holiday Hanukkah.
In 2019, Hanukkah will start on December 22nd at sunset and will end December 30th, at sunset.Facts:
Hanukkah begins on the eve of the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev and lasts eight days.
- The starting date on the western calendar varies from year to year, but usually falls between late November and late December. Photos: Photos: Doughy delights – A young Israeli boy looks at a serving of fresh oil-fried and jam-filled doughnuts, known in Hebrew as “sufganiyot”, served at one of the local bakeries in Kadima, central Israel, during Hanukkah.Hide Caption 1 of 6 Photos: Get your fill – In Jewish tradition, it is customary to eat doughnuts and other foods fried in oil during the eight-day festival of Hanukkah.In this picture, a kosher bakery prepares doughnuts by injecting them with cream custard in the Ukranian port city of Odessa. A thriving Jewish community in the region ensures that there is plenty of demand for kosher foodstuffs. Hide Caption 2 of 6 Photos: Pastry auction – So popular are the doughnuts in Israel that Jewish-American chef Joan Nathan recalls the local marketplaces resembling a “pastry auction” around this time of year. Also known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah reaffirms the ideals of Judaism and is one of the most popular Jewish observances. Hide Caption 3 of 6 Photos: The potato makeover – For some, Hanukkah is “the potato pancake holiday”, where the mundane potato is given a massive makeover in form of latkes — a fried potato cake that can be served with lots of goodies including goat cheese, tomatoes, herbs, or topped with smoked salmon and dill. Hide Caption 4 of 6 Photos: Simple is best – Nathan, who has won numerous awards for her cookbooks dedicated to Jewish cuisine, says that while she has added many different ingredients to her latke recipes — including zucchini, beetroot, sweet potato, celery root, and apple-horseradish — her favorite is still the simple potato.Hide Caption 5 of 6 Photos: Busy bakers – Jewish bakers are busy with more than just doughnuts and latkes during this time of year. Here, traditional gingerbread hearts and Stars of David with Hebrew inscriptions in Latin letters on them hang at a stall at the annual Hanukkah market at the Berlin Jewish Museum. Hide Caption 6 of 6Hanukkah is the preferred spelling, but it can also be spelled Chanukah or Chanukkah.Read MorePronunciation: HAH nu kahThe Hebrew word Hanukkah means dedication.Hanukkah is also called the Festival of Lights, Feast of Dedication and Feast of the Maccabees. Hanukkah is not the Jewish version of Christmas, but often children receive gifts, especially in areas where Jewish and Christian children are in close contact.Hanukkah commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrians and the re-dedication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem around 165 BC. Re-dedication was necessary because Seleucid king of Syria, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, had defiled the Temple by having an altar to Zeus placed there. When the Maccabees began preparing the Temple for the re-dedication, they found that they only had enough oil to light the Temple for one night. It ended up lasting for eight days, until the delivery of new consecrated oil. Candles are lit each night of Hanukkah to commemorate the miracle.On the first evening, one candle is lit in a special candelabra called a menorah or hanukkiyah. Beginning on the second night, one candle is added every night until the total reaches eight on the last night.The candles are lit by a separate candle called a Shamash, which is lit first and then is used to light the other candles. The candles are placed in the menorah from right to left, but are lit from left to right.
- One symbol of Hanukkah is the dreidel. A game is played with this four-sided spinning top. Before the Maccabean Revolt, it was illegal for people under the rule of Antiochus IV Epiphanes to read the Torah. When soldiers came through, Jews pretended to play a gambling game involving tops.Traditional Hanukkah foods, such as the latkes, or potato pancakes, are fried in oil, as another way to incorporate the memory of the Maccabees into the holiday.