Happy Hanukkah! An Introduction to the Jewish Festival - One Day Creative
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December 08, 2020

Happy Hanukkah! An Introduction to the Jewish Festival

As many of us gear up for the Christmas period, the Jewish community also look forward to celebrating the eight days of Hanukkah. But what is Hanukkah?

What is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah, sometimes called Chanukah, is a very important event in the Jewish holiday calendar. Also known as the Festival of Lights, it lasts for eight days and eight nights between late November and late December. In 2020, it begins the evening of Thursday 10th December and lasts until Friday 18th December.

How did Hanukkah begin?

To discover the origins of Hanukkah, we have to go way back to 164BCE. During this time, there was a big rebellion, known as the Maccabean Revolt. When the Jewish priest, Judas Maccabbeus, vanquished the Greek emperor, Antiochus, the Jewish people were victorious!

After recapturing Jerusalem, the Jewish people rededicated the Temple (in fact, the word Hanukkah itself means ‘rededication’!). When doing so, they found a small jug of olive oil – just enough to light the oil lamp for one day only. However, the lamp stayed alight for eight days. This became known as the miracle of the oil, and is why Hanukkah celebrations last for eight days and nights.

The Menorah

Every evening on these eight nights, Jewish families gather together to light a Hanukkah menorah (a special candelabra with nine candles). One of these candles is usually lifted higher – this represents the original day of light, while the other eight symbolise the miracle of the oil. Menorahs can be colourful and fun as well as plain, and the candles must burn for at least 30 minutes after nightfall.

What are we looking forward to this year?

I wanted to know more from friends who celebrate Hanukkah. What do they look forward to the most?

“Blasting out Adam Sandler’s Chanukah Song until my daughter rolls her eyes at me! But mainly the food of course!”

“I love the candle lighting – it’s the best thing about it, the story of Chanukah, Oh and eating greasy sugar foods. Doughnuts and latkes (hash browns) are the big two!”

How can you celebrate Hanukkah?

There are some lovely family activities you can do with children to engage them with Hanukkah. Some of our favourites are:

  • Make a sensory menorah with the little ones, using different coloured and textured materials for each of the nine candles
  • Create an eight-night countdown calendar with a different picture to colour in on each day
  • Make your own dreidel game out of paper
  • Cook up a traditional recipe, like these tasty, deep-fried latkes

Written by Becky Zimmerman.

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