December 10, 2012
It’s Hanukkah! This year, the holiday is celebrated from sundown December 8 through December 16. The Festival of Lights, as it is also known, commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in the second century BCE. This glorious event occurred after a small band of devout Jews, led by Judah Maccabee and his brothers, defeated the pagan Syrian army and ended their occupation. When the temple was rededicated, there was only enough oil for one night, yet it burned for eight—which explains the miracle of Hanukkah and why the holiday’s celebrated over eight nights.
Today when we celebrate Hanukkah, we say our prayers and light a new candle for each of the eight nights using a special menorah, the hanukkiah. Each night also brings one new gift, which can range from simple and homemade to elaborate and expensive.
Preparing delicious food for family and friends is also an important part of this holiday. Since oil is a prominent part of the story of Hanukkah, tasty foods such as latkes, which are potato pancakes fried in oil, are often served. Other favorite foods include brisket, kugel, and the sweet treat, rugelach.
A traditional Hanukkah game is dreidel, in which children spin a four-sided top and win chocolate coins, or gelt. And the holiday wouldn’t be complete without music. From “I Have a Little Dreidel” to “Oh Hanukkah,” everyone can enjoy singing and celebrating this festive winter holiday. Best wishes for a bright and beautiful Hanukkah!