History Of Hanukkah

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History Of Hanukkah

Kaylee DeWalt

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Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday widely celebrated across the world, but many do not know much about the holiday and its origins.


The story of Hanukkah comes from the first and second books of “Maccabees”. The books describe the story of a small band of Jewish fighters, called the Maccabees, as they took back the Land of Israel from Syrian Greeks, who desecrated the Second Temple of Jerusalem and banned the practice of Judaism.


With war waging between the Jews and the Syrian Greeks, Jews were unable to celebrate the eight day holiday of Sukkot, pronounced sue-KOTE or SOOH-kuss, during its normal time frame of autumn, thus they decided they should celebrate the holiday once they had reclaimed the Second Temple.


This didn’t happen until the twenty fifth of the month of Kislev (pronounced KISS-lev), the Jewish month of November and December. Those eight days celebrated during Kislev soon became the time frame for which Hanukkah was adopted.


According to MyJewishLearning.com, “much of the activity of Hanukkah takes place at home. Central to the holiday is the lighting of the hanukkiah or menorah, an eight-branched candelabrum to which one candle is added on each night of the holiday until it is ablaze with light on the eighth night.”


The hanukkiah represents the miracle at the Second Temple after the Jews had reclaimed it. In the Jewish religion, there is another menorah with seven branches meant to represent wisdom and divine inspiration; this, unlike the hanukkiah, stays up all year along.


In books of “Maccabees”, when Jewish fighters gained control of the Second Temple, there was only enough olive oil to light the seven branch menorah for one night; however, the seven branched menorah remained lit for eight nights, which the Jews proclaimed a miracle.  


The miracle of the oil also influenced the food consumed during holiday. It is traditional to eat foods fried in oil, such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts).


Overall, Hanukkah is an important holiday that everyone should know a little more about.

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