Chanukah

By Megan Roth

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Basic Hanukkah Information

Hanukkah is an eight day long Jewish holiday. It’s most commonly spelled here as Hanukkah, although it has other spellings, the other main one being Chanukah. The nine-branched Menorah is lit on Hanukkah.
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Why Do We Celebrate Hanukkah?

The traditional story that I have always been told is this: In 165 BC, when the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy was successful and the temple rededicated, they needed the candles lit all night. However, they only found one flask of oil, which would only last them one day. They would need to wait eight days to get more oil. They wouldn’t make it. However, somehow, the flask of oil lasted eight days.

Hanukkah Traditions

The Menorah- To symbolize how the miracle of the oil made the oil last for eight nights when it should’ve only lasted one, every night of Hanukkah another candle on the menorah is lit. There are nine candles, one being the samash, which is always lit for practical uses. After being lit, the menorah is commonly placed by a window. Candles are lit from the right to the left. Here are some blessings you say when lighting the menorah.

Dreidel- This is a popular children’s game using a four-sided top with different symbols on each side. This game’s origin story is that when Jews couldn’t openly practice their religion (thanks Antiochus), they would gather at night. When a soldier came by, they’d hide what they were studying and would whip out a dreidel and pretend to be gambling.

Gelt- Gelt is chocolate shaped like coins and wrapped in gold or silver foil (commonly gold). It is used as a gambling piece for the dreidel game.

Hanukkah Foods (More Traditions)

The basic tradition is eating fried or oil-based foods. Since Chanukah celebrates the miracle of oil, it’s traditional to eat foods that were fried in it (plus, it tastes delicious). Another tradition slowly became more popular in the Middle Ages, which is also to eat dairy on Hanukkah. This comes from the story of Judith, which is a legend that tells of a girl who saved her village from the babylonians.
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Sources

Works Cited

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"Zen BG." Zen BG. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.
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Happy Hanukkah!