Hanukkah: Feast of Dedication or Festival of Lights

How did Hanukkah come about?

About 200 BCE, Israel was ruled by Seleucids (an empire ruled under the Greek law) and under the charge of King Antiochus Epiphanes. He wanted all the empire to follow Greek ways of life and the Greek religion. He took control of the Temple in Jerusalem and banned practising the Jewish faith and religion. Many Jews were killed for their faith. However, Judah Maccabee and a small ally of faithful Jews revolted against and defeated the Seleucid monarchy and its powerful armies. It is said that when Judah and his followers went into the Temple, there was only enough oil to burn for one night, but that it miraculously lasted for eight nights.

The dates of Hanukkah and Christmas might well be associated, because the rededication of the Temple to the Lord took place on the 25th day of the Hebrew month called Kislev.

Hanukkah in Israel Jerusalem
Photo credit (Taken by Noam Chen for Ministry of Tourism)

Hanukkah Traditions

Hanukkah is traditionally a family celebration. It is customary to light the candles on a hanukkiyah, which is lit every night for eight nights. Children and households play the dreidel games. They eat fried and oily foods as a reminder of the miracle of the oil. Many Jews give gifts during the holiday.

Hanukkah Celebration in Israel
Photo credit (Taken by Dana Friedlander for Ministry of Tourism)

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