The month of December is commonly associated with the holiday of Christmas, but other holidays occur this time of year. One of them is the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.
Hanukkah, also spelled Chanukah, is known as “The Festival of Lights.” You may be familiar with Adam Sandler’s song about this holiday, but there is much more about Hanukkah than well-thought-out lyrics.
Hanukkah’s main component is the menorah. The menorah is a candle-holding structure that has space for nine candles. One candle in the middle, and four on each side of the middle candle, totaling nine candles. The eight outer candles are for each night of the celebration. The middle candle is used to light the other candles. Hanukkah lasts eight nights, and every night one candle is lit until all the candles are lit for the final night. The menorah is usually placed on a window sill and sometimes outside the front door to show that the family celebrates this holiday.
The holiday of Hanukkah is celebrated because of a miracle that happened in the Jewish faith. While some of its origin story is thought to possibly be legend, there are also facts surrounding the holiday’s origin.
There was a famine in the land causing a shortage of supplies — this included the oil needed to keep a flame in the Jewish temple burning. The oil that was in the candle could only last one day, but the journey to get the oil would consist of days. The oil that was only supposed to last one day ended up lasting eight days, thus resulting in a festival honoring this great miracle that had happened.
While the lighting of the menorah could be considered the main event of Hanukkah, there are also many other traditions that occur. One of them is playing with a dreidel and betting things, like candies and pennies. On the dreidel’s sides in Hebrew it says “a great miracle happened here,” referencing the miracle of the oil.
Although it did not start like this, Hanukkah has become a holiday where gifts are given. This may be a result of Christmas’s impact on the holiday. In some cases, each night a gift is given, making Hanukkah a holiday Jewish families can look forward to. The Festival of Lights is another holiday that makes December full of a seasonal cheer.