What is Hanukkah and why is it celebrated?


On the stove, crisp potato pancakes sputter in a frying pan. In a corner, children spin square tops on the floor. On the table, candles twinkle in a candleholder. It’s Hanukkah, the Jewish Feast of Lights, and it lasts eight days.

Hanukkah celebrates a marvellous event that happened more than 2,000 years ago. At that time, the Jews won their struggle for religious freedom by defeating the Syrians, who tried to make them give up their religion.

Hanukkah is a cheerful time. There may be a party. People enjoy such special holiday food as potato pancakes, called latkes. Gifts and contributions are often given to the poor.

Each evening, families light some or all of the candles of the special eight-branched candleholder called a menorah. Some families sing songs, play games, and give their children gifts.

Hanukkah starts on the eve of the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, which falls in November or December. The word Hanukkah means “dedication”.

Here is a brief story of the menorah. After their great victory over the Syrians, the Jews began cleaning the great Temple of Jerusalem. They wanted to light the holy lamps. But they could find only a tiny jar of the special oil they needed for the lamps. They were amazed when the jar provided them with enough oil for eight days.

The eight days of Hanukkah are in memory of the eight days the lamps stayed lit. A special symbol of Hanukkah is the eight-branched candleholder called the menorah. On each day of Hanukkah, the candles of the menorah are lit – one on the first day, two on the second, and so on. Many menorahs have a branch to hold a ninth candle used to light the other candles.

Picture Credit : Google