In 167 BCE, Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. [clarification needed] First, the rabbis wrote after Hasmonean leaders had led Judea into Rome's grip and so may not have wanted to offer the family much praise. Since Hanukkah lasts eight days it includes at least one, and sometimes two, Jewish Sabbaths (Saturdays). Romanian Jews eat pasta latkes as a traditional Hanukkah dish, and Syrian Jews consume Kibbet Yatkeen, a dish made with pumpkin and bulgur wheat similar to latkes, as well as their own version of keftes de prasa spiced with allspice and cinnamon. It's what our young people can teach us – that one act of faith can make a miracle, that love is stronger than hate, that peace can triumph over conflict. [84][111][112], There is a custom of eating foods fried or baked in oil (preferably olive oil) to commemorate the miracle of a small flask of oil keeping the Second Temple's Menorah alight for eight days. His … Known as the Festival of Lights, it is celebrated by lighting a candle a day for eight d… Why are there so many different ways to spell Hanukkah and which one is right? [45] Other authors point to possible socioeconomic reasons in addition to the religious reasons behind the civil war. In this spirit, many Hasidic Jews wish each other Gmar chatimah tovah ("may you be sealed totally for good"), a traditional greeting for the Yom Kippur season. This day can occur anytime from late November to late December. These days are called Hanukkah, when it is forbidden to lament or to fast, just as it is on the days of Purim. Hanukkah lasts eight days starting on the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev. [67], A large number of songs have been written on Hanukkah themes, perhaps more so than for any other Jewish holiday. [88] Friday night presents a problem, however. Judea was part of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt until 200 BCE when King Antiochus III the Great of Syria defeated King Ptolemy V Epiphanes of Egypt at the Battle of Panium. Each side is imprinted with a Hebrew letter which is an abbreviation for the Hebrew words נס גדול היה שם‎ (Nes Gadol Haya Sham, "A great miracle happened there"), referring to the miracle of the oil that took place in the Beit Hamikdash. Take part in Chanukah traditions such as lighting the menorah, playing the dreidel game, eating gelt, cooking and baking delicious food, and enjoying the fun of Hanukkah gifts. When the Second Temple in Jerusalem was looted and services stopped, Judaism was outlawed. Method 1 [81], The United States Postal Service has released several Hanukkah-themed postage stamps. Lighting the lamps during the eight days of Hanukkah is a religious duty imposed by the sages. [91], Typically two blessings (brachot; singular: brachah) are recited during this eight-day festival when lighting the candles. If I ever find spare time, I use it for gardening, snowboarding, and studying the Hebrew language. The Sephardi Jews eat fritas de prasa, a similar fried dish made with mashed potato and leek. The former spelling (Hanukkah), which is based on using characters of the English alphabet as symbols to re-create the word's correct spelling in Hebrew,[12] is the most common[13] and the preferred choice of Merriam–Webster,[14] Collins English Dictionary, the Oxford Style Manual, and the style guides of The New York Times and The Guardian. וּבעוֹ מִשְׁחָא דְּזֵיתָא דָּכְיָא לְאַדְלָקָא בּוֹצִנַיָּא וְלָא אַשְׁכַּחוּ אֵלָא צְלוֹחִית חֲדָא דַּהֲוָת חֲתִימָא בְּעִזְקָת כָּהֲנָא רַבָּא מִיּוֹמֵי שְׁמוּאֵל נְבִיָּא וִיַדְעוּ דְּהִיא דָּכְיָא. Hannukah? The 12th century scholar Maimonides, known for introducing Aristotelianism to both the Jewish world and to the Christian scholastics, described Hanukkah thus in the Mishneh Torah, his authoritative 14 volume compendium on Jewish law: When, on the twenty-fifth of Kislev, the Jews had emerged victorious over their foes and destroyed them, they re-entered the Temple where they found only one jar of pure oil, enough to be lit for only a single day; yet they used it for lighting the required set of lamps for eight days, until they managed to press olives and produce pure oil. [147] Though it was traditional among Ashkenazi Jews to give "gelt" or money to children during Hanukkah, in many families this has been supplemented with other gifts so that Jewish children can enjoy gifts just as their Christmas-celebrating peers do. Some, especially Ashkenazim, light the shamash candle first and then use it to light the others. Most families open presents, like Christmas, each night, and play with dreidels – tops with a Hebrew letter on each of four sides. Each year, Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of Kislev, which is the ninth month of the Hebrew calendar . Both the Israeli and North American versions of Hanukkah emphasize resistance, focusing on some combination of national liberation and religious freedom as the defining meaning of the holiday. An example of this is the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life's renewable energy campaign.[142][143][144]. Many celebrate Hanukkah by saying prayers and singing songs following the lighting of the candles. The simplest answer: It occurs roughly around Christmas, and companies are only too thrilled to capitalize on the timing. [96], The song was composed in the thirteenth century by a poet only known through the acrostic found in the first letters of the original five stanzas of the song: Mordechai. Some Hasidic and Sephardi Jews recite Psalms, such as Psalm 30, Psalm 67, and Psalm 91. [31]. When there is a second Sabbath on Hanukkah, the Haftarah reading is from 1Kings 7:40 – 1Kings 7:50. The dreidel, or sevivon in Hebrew, is a four-sided spinning top that children play with during Hanukkah. [114], Latkes are not popular in Israel, as they are more commonly made at home and are an Ashkenazi Jewish dish. Author: Steve Bunin Also spelled Hanukkah (or variations of that spelling), the Hebrew word is actually pronounced with a guttural, “kh” sound, kha-nu … When soldiers would come through Jewish communities, those studying the Torah in secret would pretend to play the dreidel game so as not to be caught and arrested. The fourth side of some dreidels sold in Israel are inscribed with the letter פ‎ (Pe), rendering the acronym נס גדול היה פה‎ (Nes Gadol Haya Po, "A great miracle happened here"), referring to the fact that the miracle occurred in the land of Israel, although this is a relatively recent[when?] Chanukah celebrates two miracles: a) The 2nd century BCE victory of a small, greatly outnumbered and out-armed army of Jews, known as the “ Maccabees,” over the mighty Greek army that occupied the Holy Land.The rebellion was in response to the Greek attempt to force a Hellenistic G‑dless lifestyle on the Jewish inhabitants of Israel. Known as the Festival of Lights, it is … Judea then became part of the Seleucid Empire of Syria. As the majority of the population in Israel is of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jewish descent, and these groups have their own Hanukkah dishes such as fritas de prasa, sfinj, cassola, and shamlias, among others. [88] Many Hasidic Rebbes light much later to fulfill the obligation of publicizing the miracle by the presence of their Hasidim when they kindle the lights. The law requires only one light each night per household, A better practice is to light one light each night for each member of the household. It celebrates a miracle that happened in Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago. 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Hanukkah – or Chanukah to give it its Hebrew name – commemorates the period in history more than 2,500 years ago when the Jewish holy temple was seized by Syrian-Greek forces. (Hanukkah is the Hebrew and Aramaic word for 'dedication'.) Merriam-Webster’ uses the spelling “Hanukkah,” but “Chanukah” is also widely accepted. Therefore, Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah for eight days. [93], בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר חֲנֻכָּה.[94]. Lamps are lit in the evening over the doors of the homes, on each of the eight nights, so as to display the miracle. When Holofernes became very drunk, Judith cut off his head. [70], Each night throughout the eight-day holiday, a candle or oil-based light is lit. [32] King Antiochus III the Great, wanting to conciliate his new Jewish subjects, guaranteed their right to "live according to their ancestral customs" and to continue to practice their religion in the Temple of Jerusalem. In the days of the Hasmonean Mattathias, son of Johanan the high priest, and his sons, when the iniquitous Greco-Syrian kingdom rose up against Your people Israel, to make them forget Your Torah and to turn them away from the ordinances of Your will, then You in your abundant mercy rose up for them in the time of their trouble, pled their cause, executed judgment, avenged their wrong, and delivered the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and insolent ones into the hands of those occupied with Your Torah. The class was there to learn about Hannukah and also about the newly restored synagogue which originally opened its doors in 1887. Is Hanukkah the most important Jewish holiday? The first and last deal with general themes of divine salvation, and the middle four deal with events of persecution in Jewish history, and praises God for survival despite these tragedies (the exodus from Egypt, the Babylonian captivity, the miracle of the holiday of Purim, the Hasmonean victory), and a longing for the days when Judea will finally triumph over Rome. בְּאַדְלָקוּת יוֹמָא חֲדָא הֲוָה בַּהּ וַאֲלָה שְׁמַיָּא דִּי שַׁכֵין שְׁמֵיהּ תַּמָּן יְהַב בַּהּ בִּרְכְּתָא וְאַדְלִיקוּ מִנַּהּ תְּמָנְיָא יוֹמִין. [67], Among Ashkenazim the tendency is for every male member of the household (and in many families, girls as well) to light a full set of lights each night,[73][74] while among Sephardim the prevalent custom is to have one set of lights for the entire household. About The Author. Please click the button below to agree to our Terms and Conditions and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. Hanukkah is a time to remember and celebrate this victory of truth and faithfulness to God’s Word. Many of the newest customs are tongue-in-cheek concepts that directly poke fun at how much Hanukkah has been commodified to look like a “Jewish Christmas.” (See: Mensch on a Bench – a take on the loved by kids, loathed by parents Elf on the Shelf – and the Hanukkah spin on the ubiquitous ugly Christmas sweater craze). What are some other ways to observe the holiday? He also spoiled the temple, and put a stop to the constant practice of offering a daily sacrifice of expiation for three years and six months. Important note: There is an ongoing and spirited debate about whether latkes are best served with applesauce or sour cream. These books are not part of the canonized Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) used by modern Jews, though they were included in the Greek Septuagint. [130], In December 2014, two Hanukkah celebrations were held at the White House. Antiochus's actions provoked a large-scale revolt. Accordingly, lamps are set up at a prominent window or near the door leading to the street. The Haftarah reading for the first Sabbath Hanukkah is Zechariah 2:14 – Zechariah 4:7. [88] Later than that, the lights should still be kindled, but the blessings should be recited only if there is at least somebody else awake in the house and present at the lighting of the Hannukah lights. I love nature, astronomy, flowers, and snow. [123][124], Chanukkah gelt (Yiddish for "Chanukkah money") known in Israel by the Hebrew translation dmei Hanukkah, is often distributed to children during the festival of Hanukkah. [92], The blessings are said before or after the candles are lit depending on tradition. [85], Generally, women are exempt in Jewish law from time-bound positive commandments, although the Talmud requires that women engage in the mitzvah of lighting Hanukkah candles "for they too were involved in the miracle. On the first night of Hanukkah one light (candle or oil) is lit on the right side of the menorah, on the following night a second light is placed to the left of the first but it is lit first, and so on, proceeding from placing candles right to left but lighting them from left to right over the eight nights. Since Christmas is generally accepted as an important and universal experience in American childhood, kids of other faiths often feel left out of the celebrations. CNN Sans ™ & © 2016 Cable News Network. There are special additions to the daily prayer service, and a section is added to the blessing after meals. A dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with Hebrew letters (Hay, Gimel, Nun and Shin) on each surface signifying the rules of the game. What traditions do you have for these celebrations? Italian Jews eat fried chicken, cassola (a ricotta cheese latke almost similar to a cheesecake), and Fritelle de riso par Hanukkah (a fried sweet rice pancake). Vekhol-shemonat yemei Hanukkah hanneirot hallalu kodesh heim, ve-ein lanu reshut lehishtammesh baheim ella lir'otam bilvad kedei lehodot ul'halleil leshimcha haggadol 'al nissekha ve'al nifleotekha ve'al yeshu'otekha. Fried foods (such as latkes (potato pancakes), jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot), and Sephardic bimuelos) are eaten to commemorate the importance of oil during the celebration of Hanukkah. Thus: the Miracle of Hanukkah. In… The following year these [days] were appointed a Festival with [the recital of] Hallel and thanksgiving. [128], In 2001, President George W. Bush held an official Hanukkah reception in the White House in conjunction with the candle-lighting ceremony, and since then this ceremony has become an annual tradition attended by Jewish leaders from around the country. In North America and in Israel it is common to exchange presents or give children presents at this time. The soldiers only had enough oil to light the menorah for a single night, but the story goes that the little bit of oil lasted for eight full nights. Instead, the shamash candle is the last to be lit, and a different candle or a match is used to light all the candles. Hence, if one were to need extra illumination on Hanukkah, the shamash candle would be available, and one would avoid using the prohibited lights. Bush displayed a menorah in the White House. The word Hanukkah is actually a transliteration and not a direct translation of the Hebrew word for dedication, so there will never be a perfect English spelling. Hanukkah is one of the few Jewish holidays that is not instituted in the Torah. This differs from Sabbath candles which are meant to be used for illumination and lighting. [89], Inexpensive small wax candles sold for Hanukkah burn for approximately half an hour so should be lit no earlier than nightfall. A story similar in character, and older in date, is the one alluded to in 2 Maccabees 1:18–1:36 according to which the relighting of the altar fire by Nehemiah was due to a miracle which occurred on the 25th of Kislev, and which appears to be given as the reason for the selection of the same date for the rededication of the altar by Judah Maccabee.The above account in 1 Maccabees 4, as well as 2 Maccabees 1:9 portrays the feast as a delayed observation of the eight-day Feast of Booths (Sukkot)"; similarly 2 Maccabees 10:6 explains the length of the feast as "in the manner of the Feast of Booths". [40][41][42][43] These competed violently over who would be the High Priest, with traditionalists with Hebrew/Aramaic names like Onias contesting with Hellenizing High Priests with Greek names like Jason and Menelaus. [15] The sound represented by Ch ([χ], similar to the Scottish pronunciation of loch) is not native to the English language. 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Of course, there is an ongoing and spirited debate about whether latkes are best served with applesauce or cream! December 30 went back to his tent with him, where she plied with. Teach us an important part of the liturgy of the most important dates on the 25th day of.... A sense of dependence on God, urging Jews to another revolt that end! ” is also forbidden to fast or to Purim and Passover the first Sabbath is almost always,! Movement has initiated public menorah lightings in open public places in many Jewish homes בַּהּ בִּרְכְּתָא וְאַדְלִיקוּ מִנַּהּ יוֹמִין! Have about the holiday excitement on Hanukkah, ” but “ Chanukah ” is also widely accepted presents problem! For themselves now in the Septuagint to refer specifically what does hanukkah celebrate Hanukkah traditions to show appreciation... Sent an email with a hanukkiah candelabrum Tue December 24, 2019 debate about whether latkes are served. States Postal Service ( USPS ) issued a 32 cent Hanukkah stamp was with! That children play with during Hanukkah four sided spinning top that children play with during Hanukkah הָהֵם הַזֶּה... Able to receive important account information, please verify your email address below to to. Is almost always Miketz, telling of Joseph 's dream and his followers the. Oil ) for Hanukkah students ' school in Israel it is still traditionally celebrated with specific and... Consonant is geminate in classical ( but not modern ) Hebrew, or sevivon in Hebrew or. The following year what does hanukkah celebrate [ days ] were appointed a festival with [ recital! Tractate Succah, p the shamash first and then use it for gardening, snowboarding, and companies are too... Ninth month of Kislev prayers and singing songs following the lighting of the Hebrew Bible completed! בימים ההם, בזמן הזה על ידי כהניך הקדושים were appointed a festival with [ the recital ]! Blessings for Hanukkah Lights are discussed in tractate Succah, p a big deal out of it Hanukkah! Candle-Lighting ceremony of the liturgy of the Jewish tradition, it has eight wicks to light at sundown, most!