The Feast of The Lights

Chanukah 2014 falls on December 17th-24th

By Ana Ledeboer-Cid and Jordan O'Donoghue

The History of Chanukah

In 165 b.c.e. Judas Maccabeus and his army of Maccabees defeated Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the king of the invading Seleucids, after three years of battle. The king had desecrated the Second Holy Temple, and Judas and the Maccabees had won it back. Upon entering the Temple, Judas only found enough olive oil to burn in the Menorah for one day, but it miraculously lasted for eight whole days. In 100 c.e., the scholars Hillel and Shammai debated how the candles should be lit to properly represent the miracle. Hillel believed that one more candle should be lit each night, starting with one and ending with eight. Shammai taught that one less candle should be lit each night, beginning with eight and finishing with one. This custom was not specified in the book of the Maccabees, but it probably began quite early. The Talmud, however, tells the story of the Maccabees and lists the rituals in detail to commemorate the miracle and show dedication to Judaism.

The Rituals

Chanukah also known as The Feast of the Lights, is celebrated on Kislev 25th on the Jewish calendar and on the Gregorian calender at the begging of December.During the holiday Jewish families light a menorah to symbolize the miracle of oil in the temple when it was almost destroyed. The menorah has eight candles and one shammash (“servant”). The candles are lit left to right, lighting one a night for eight days. When a candle is lit a blessing is offered. In Israel, schools close for eight days; the students present plays, sing holiday songs and have parties. An exciting tradition in modern Israel is the annual relay from Modiʿin to Jerusalem. The runners carry burning torches through the streets starting at Modiʿin until the last torchbearer reaches the Western Wall. The torchbearer hands the torch to the chief rabbi, who uses it to light a giant menorah. Jewish people also read scripture and recite some of the Psalms, perform Almsgiving and sing the special hymn. Every night kids receive gifts of money which is sometimes in the form of chocolate covered in gold foil. Lastly kids play card games and play with a four-sided top called a dreidel.

Did you know?

Last year Chanukah fell on Thanksgiving for the first time in 96 years and it will not happen again for another 57 years!

Work Cited

"Hanukkah." Britannica School. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2014. Web. 25 Nov. 2014.


"Chanukah and Thanksgiving: A Brief History - From The Library - Chanukah - Hanukkah." Chanukah and Thanksgiving: A Brief History - From The Library - Chanukah - Hanukkah. Web. 01 Dec. 2014. <>.

Morrison, M. A., and Stephen F. Brown. Judaism World Religions. Print.