As promised readers, here is your Hanukkah post! Enjoy!
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day and night celebration and commemoration of the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. This occurred in 165 B.C.E after a Jewish victory over Syrians/Greeks. The Jewish holiday starts on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar. Usually it coincides with late November-late December.
The Story of Hanukkah
In 168 B.C.E, Syrian-Greek soldiers seized the Jewish Temple and made it into a house of worship for their god Zeus. Although many Jewish people were upset, most were afraid to fight back. A year later in 167 B.C.E, Syrian-Greek emperor, Antiochus, declared Judaism illegal. Everyone was to worship Greek gods. If they didn’t, they would be killed.
Resistance began to build in the village of Modiin which is located near Jerusalem. Soldiers gathered the Jews and ordered them to bow to an idol and eat pork. When Mattathias, a High Priest, was ordered to meet their demands he refused. A villager offered to bow down to the idol and eat pork for Mattathias, but he became angry and killed the villager and then the officer who tried to make him go against his religion. The High Priest’s sons and other villagers attacked and killed the remaining soldiers. Because of what they had done, Mattathias and his family fled to the mountains where other Jews who wanted to fight the Greeks joined them. They became known as the Maccabees or Hasmoneans.
Eventually the Maccabees regained control over their land that the Greeks had stolen. When they returned to the Holy Temple, the Maccabees were determined to purify it after it had been defiled by the Greeks. They wanted to do this by burning ritual oil in the temple’s menorah for eight days, however, there was only a day’s worth left. Despite not having enough, the Jews lit the menorah anyway and to their surprise and joy it lasted eight days. This is considered the miracle of Hanukkah.
Just like all holidays, there are traditions and rituals that are followed. Here are a couple of the most popular ones Jewish people do to celebrate.
Lighting the menorah: Just as their ancestors lit the menorah of the Holy Temple, Jewish people light ones in their homes. A candle is lit every day for eight days of Hanukkah.
Eating Fried Foods: Fried foods are tradition staple of Hanukkah. Latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (fried, jelly filled donuts) are common foods eaten during Hanukkah.
Playing dreidel: This is a gambling game played with a square top. Most people play for chocolate coins, candy, or change. The game came about when Jews were under Greek rule. Jews who wanted to study the Torah would conceal their learning by gambling with a top when Greek officials were present.
Hanukkah Gelt: During Hanukkah, children get small sums of money. However, their parents don’t automatically give it to them. They must go to their parents and demand their gelt from them.