Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights

December 10, 2020 - December 18, 2020

A multi-colored diya sits in the hands of a woman. Her hands are covered in henna designs and she is wearing an orange and yellow sari

Hanukkah- The Festival of Lights

Hanukkah, or Chanukah, is the Hebrew word for “dedication.” This Jewish Festival of Lights celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Syrian Greek army and the miracle that occurred when the menorah was lit and lasted eight full days despite having oil enough for only one day.

A young boy lights a neon menorah
Photo by Bob Rosenberg  licensed CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

How Do We Celebrate Hanukkah?

Hanukkah is celebrated in the home by lighting the menorah or hanukkiah--a candelabrum that has space for nine candles--eight candles for each night, plus the Shamash (helper), which is used to light the other candles.  Each night of Hanukkah add one additional candle, so by the end you have nine candles lit!  Some families encourage every family member to light their own menorah, so the room is aglow with light. Many families play dreidel (a top with meaningful symbols), eating special foods unique to Hanukkah (mostly fried!), singing songs, and exchanging gifts.  Traditional foods include latkes (luscious potato pancakes), jelly donuts, and chocolate gelt, or chocolate wrapped in gold foil to look like coins.

Online Resources

A door deocrated with a gold menorah with blue candles
Lisa Hopkins’ door last year--won second place in the library competition!

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