This holiday, also known as the 'Festival of Lights', is celebrated over eight days beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. In the year 2000, Chanukah (meaning dedication) starts on Thursday, December 21st and ends on Friday December 29th. In 165 BCE, the Jews led by the Maccabees defeated the Greeks in war. When they arrived to rededicate the Temple in Jerusalem they found only one small flask of oil to light the Menorah. Miraculously, this oil lasted for eight days. Today, Chanukah celebrates this miracle.
- Every night for the eight days of the festival of Chanukah, lights are lit on a Menorah to commemorate the miracle at the Temple over 2000 years ago.
- While work is not prohibited, people generally refrain from work while the Chanukah lights are lit.
- The dreidel is used by families to play a game. The history behind this game played during Chanukah is believed to relate back to a ban on work while the Chanukah candles are lit.
- Individuals eat traditionally 'oily' foods to commemorate the miracle of the oil.
- Children are given presents and money during the holiday. Many families give out presents each day of the holiday. This relates to rewarding children for Torah study.
- Chanukah is a time of prayer.
- Many different traditions exist around the world for this celebration. Read about a few of these here.