What is Chanukah?

Learn About the Jewish Holiday Chanukah


Eileanora Clock, News Editor

Chanukah, more commonly known as Hanukkah, is a Jewish celebration that takes place during the winter, usually in December. Chanukah also is known as The Festival of the Lights, and is an eight day celebration that takes place during the Jewish month of Kislev, and falls this year between December 16 and 24.

Chanukah is a festival that represents the triumph of light over darkness for the Jewish people. Over twenty centuries ago, Judea, the home of the Jewish people, was ruled by the Syrian Greeks. This ruling class was descended from Alexander the Great, and they wanted to force the Jewish people to adopt Hellenism as a culture. Against all odds, a small group of Jewish leaders called the Maccabees were successful in their attempts to reclaim their Holy Temple and drive the Greeks from their land.

That is only the first part of the Chanukah story. After the Maccabees defeated the Greeks, they went to light the temple’s menorah, a special ceremonial candelabra on which nine lights can be lit. However, they did not find enough oil to light the lamp for more than one day. But, miraculously, the oil in the lamp burned for eight days, even though there was barely enough oil for one. This supply of oil burned continuously, until a new supply of oil could be found.

To commemorate this miraculous occurrence, the temple priests created the Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah. The heart of this festival are the flames which light the candelabra throughout the eight day festival. [GIFT GIVING, FOOD TRADITIONS, ETC]