Hanukkah is derived from a Hebrew word and means ‘to dedicate’. It is a Jewish holiday which continues for eight days and usually starts on the 25th of Kislev, Hebrew Calendar and comes usually during November December. The celebration honors the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.
History of Jewish Hanukkah Holiday
The history of Hanukkah can be traced to the time, when the Greek King of Syria forced the Jews to worship Greek Gods and the temple of Jews was dedicated to the Zeus worship, the Jews were religiously suppressed and while some remained afraid of the Greek soldiers, most of the Jews were angered and chose to fight back.
A Greek officer along with some soldiers in Modiin asked the Jews to bow in front of an idol and then eat the flesh of a pig which is not allowed in Jewish Culture. After a High Priest of Jews was insulted he was enraged and killed the officer and the man who insulted him. His sons and other aggrieved villages killed the soldiers and then they hid in a forest, where a lot of other Jews who had the same rebellious feeling, joined them. They used to attack the Greek soldiers as and when possible.
After one year of the rebel, the Priest died and his son, he had put his son, Judah Macabee was put in charge. They won after three years of fight with the Greek in spite of having fewer men and ammunition.
When Macabee and the soldiers visited the Holy Temple, disappointment met them as the temple was in a bad condition and the golden menorah was absent. When they resurrected this temple, they had a celebration for this dedication. They searched for oil and found a flask containing oil. They lit the menorah with enough oil for only one day. But as if a miracle were happening, for eight days the oil lasted.
Today the Jews celebrate Hanukkah by lighting a lamp for eight days in a menorah.
Hanukkah traditions involve preparing lavish meals with the typical Jewish festive food, which are a must. Food that is baked or fried in oil, preferably olive oil is necessarily included. Latkes, Sifganivots, loukomades and pretzels and food are customary. Dairy products are also consumed by Jews on this festival as a tribute to Judith, who had an integral role in the liberation of Jews.
The typical game of dreidel is played merrily on the occasion of Hanukkah. The game consists of a four sided spinning top which has a distinct Hebrew letter on each side, which means “A great miracle happened here”. Then there is the gift tradition which has got its birth from the Christian holiday of Christmas.
To celebrate the miracle that happened, they light candles throughout the 8 days, lighting 8 candles on the eight nights.
The Hanukkah traditions remain close to their culture and religion and celebrate their historic heroes.