Chanukkah is a Jewish holiday known as the Festival of Light that lasts for eight nights and commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in 165 BCE after the victory over the Syrian-Greeks. It's a celebration in honor of the miracle of the oil that lasted seven days in the Holy Temple. Because the holiday is based on the lunar calendar, the date changes every year. This year it starts on Christmas Eve and ends on January 1, but it can appear as early as November (in 2013 it overlapped Thanksgiving).
Want some other interesting facts about Chanukkah? Check out the following list.
- Chanukkah in Hebrew means "dedication."
- A hanukiah menorah has nine candleholders. One for each night of Chanukkah and an additional one (the shamish) that is used to light the others.
- Since 2004, a menorah has been lit in Berlin's Pariser Platz on the first night of the holiday. It is also the largest in Europe.
- It takes 44 candles all together to observe all eight nights
- Families typically eat potato pancakes (latkes) and sweet, jelly-filled donuts (Sufganiyot) and other fried foods during Chanukkah. This practice is in remembrance of the sacred oil that lasted eight nights.
- In Israel, over 18 million sufganiyot, jelly-filled doughnut-style pastries are consumed in the weeks around Chanukkah.
- Children often play a game called dreidel, a four-sided spinning top. It's a game of chance. The letters on the dreidel are: נ (Nun), ג (Gimmel), ה (Hey), and ש (Shin). The letters stand for the phrase "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham" which means, "A great miracle happened there."
- The dreidel game was originally used as a way for students to hide their Torah studies from Syrian-Greek soldiers by playing with a spinning top, which was a popular gambling device.
Traditionally during Chanukkah, children received gelt, or gold coins instead of presents. Today, the holiday is associated with Christmas and kids often receive one gift for every night of Chanukkah.
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