Hanukkah in Birmingham
- SWATHI RAMASWAMY
- UPDATED Sep 21, 2018
- 4 Views
Hanukkah (also called Chanukah) is an eight-day Jewish festival of lights that dates back over 2500 years. Jews from all around the world celebrate Hanukkah to mark the rededication of the temple of Jerusalem to the Jews from the ancient Hellenistic empire.
1. When is Hanukkah celebrated?
Hanukkah is celebrated on the date of 25 Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar. It means that the times are always different every year as Jewish calendar is lunisolar like most ancient calendars. Generally, Hanukkah is observed between the months of November and December every year.
2. The story of Hanukkah :
In 175 BCE, King of Syria tried to abolish Judaism for Worshipping Zeus. Greeks showed disrespect towards the Jerusalem temple and tried suppressing Jews community faith. There was a revolt in 164 BCE, and the temple was destroyed.
When the Maccabees led by Judah rededicated the temple, they sought to light the temple's menorah and just had a single curse of Olive oil that can last one day however miraculously the oil lasted for eight days. This led to the start of an eight-day festival of Hanukkah to commemorate the victory of Jews and rededication of temple from the Greek-Syrian Hellenistic empire.
3. What is Hanukkah (or Menorah)?
Menorah is an integral part of the festival. Jews celebrate Hanukkah by lighting the Hanukah (or menorah) which is a nine-branch candleholder. The ninth candle is a servant candle which is used to illuminate the other eight candles.
Children also make candle holders in schools and take them home. The menorah is placed near the window to announce the miracle of the oil to the world.
During the ancient times Menorah was lit with oil lamps. It is only in the modern world that candles are being used instead of oil lamps.
4. How is Hanukkah observed?
The nine branch candleholder (menorah) is lit each day in every Jewish household and synagogue. These days’ huge menorahs are lit and places in public places and malls etc.
The candles are placed in the direction of right to left in the Menorah. Each day one of the candles are lit from left to right with reciting blessings and prayers until the end date of Hanukkah lights all eight candles.
5. Fun Activities to do :
The activities observed during Hanukkah are playing dreidel, fun games, and educational information about the History of Hanukkah.
Dreidels are a traditional toy of the season having spinning tops with Hebrew letters. The letters on each side displays - Nun, gimmel, hay, and shin which translates to "A great miracle happened here."
6. Food and Presents :
It is also essential to pray each day and to eat fried food since the festival is based on the miracle of the oil.
The traditional foods during Hanukkah are holiday pancakes such as blintzes and fried potato latkes.
Young children are gifted with coins (now chocolate coins) as a present from their older counterparts.
Jelly donut is the most liked food amongst all.
It is not allowed to eat dairy products during the festival of Hanukkah.
Hanukkah, most of the time, coincides with the Christmas. Therefore, it is now considered a minor holiday in Judaism.
Hanukkah is a very family-oriented festival which observes bringing people close to its customs and varied faith.