How Long is Hanukkah Celebrated?
Otherwise known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is celebrated for 8 straight days, beginning on the twenty-fifth day of the autumn month of Kislev, anywhere between November and December as determined by the Gregorian Calendar.
The celebration commemorates how the Jewish peoples acquired control of Jerusalem once again during the Maccabean Revolt and they re-dedicated the Second Temple in Jerusalem.
The celebration also recalls the sacrifice made by Hannah and her 7 sons, who were practicing Jews; and who were persecuted, tortured and killed for their refusal to eat pork – a practice that is undertaken by Jews in accordance to their Jewish laws.
Lighting of the Menorah
Observance of the holiday is symbolized by the Menorah also known as Hanukiah, a special kind of candelabra specifically designed for Hanukkah. It holds nine candles in all, four on each side and one in the middle which is usually elevated to set it apart from the rest of the eight candles.
The middle candle is called shamash and is used to light the other candles. Traditionally, one candle is lit for each night of the eight-day celebration. As the eight-day celebration progresses, the number of candles lit increases.
This means that on the first night, one candle is lit; on the second night, another candle is lit so there will now be two candles lit; and so on, until you reach the last and final candle on the eighth day.
Usually, Hanukkah is celebrated quietly at home by the family although there are quite a few who also celebrate this holiday as a community. Prayers, playing the dreidel which is a kind of spinning top with four sides and each side having a Hebrew letter; and sharing a repast of foods cooked in oil.
Hanukkah is also known as the “miracle of oil” and because of this, eating foods cooked in oil, particularly fried dishes, is part of the traditional celebration of this Jewish holiday.
Some of these traditional foods include potato pancakes which are called latkes; and sufganiyot, doughnut in Hebrew.
Gift-giving has also been included in the tradition although this practice is not common in all celebrations; inclusion of this depends on the preference of the family.
For each day of the 8 days of Hanukkah, children are given gifts to make the celebration even more meaningful and special.