Below is a description of the historical story of the holiday and of a
typical Hanukkah family celebration today. Compare both and see if you can
figure out where our holiday traditions come from!
Story of Hanukkah
Hanukkah is Celebrated Today
Over 2,000 years ago the Jewish people fought against an
enemy who would not allow them to practice their religious
traditions. Their enemy
destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem which contained many holy objects
including a sacred lamp called the menorah. One small band of
people, called the Maccabees, was led by a brave man named Judah.
He led them in a fight against their enemies. Even though they were
outnumbered the Jewish people were brave and won the battle! When
Judah returned to the Temple in Jerusalem the first thing he did was
restore the sacred lamp. But there was almost no oil left -- only
enough for one day. The lamp was filled with this oil and
lit. Instead of lasting only one day, it burned brighter, and
brighter, lasting eight days -- a miracle!
Hanukkah (also Chanukah) is the Jewish Festival of
Lights. The word Hanukkah means rededication. Every year the
celebration honors the hard-fought victory of those trying to keep their
faith despite a powerful enemy. It is an eight-day holiday that will be celebrated this year
starting at sundown on December 7th, 2004. The first night
usually includes a big family dinner with foods such as potato latkes,
beef brisket, and jelly doughnuts. After dinner the family gathers
to light the menorah candles -- a new one each night until all 8 are
lit. Blessings and songs are part of the ceremony. Children
then get to open gifts from family and friends. They play games with
toys such as the traditional dreidel and chocolate coins, called gelt.
THE STORY OF HANUKKAH
|The lamp was only suppose to stay lit for one
night. The 8 days that the oil lamp burned was the
"miracle" of long ago.
is a nine-stemmed candle. One candle, called the shamus, is raised
higher than the others. It is used to light the remaining
candles. One candle is lit the first night, 2 the second, 3 the third,
etc., until all are lit on the eight night.
olive oil for the lamps was almost completely destroyed. It was a
miracle that one flask was found that should have provided one day's
foods are an integral part of the Jewish holidays. Potato latkes,
and jelly donuts, both fried in oil, are popular Hanukkah dishes.
the rule of their enemy the Jewish children were not allowed to study the Torah.
They continued their studies anyway and when the soldiers saw them, they
pretended to be playing a children's game with the dreidel.
||A dreidel is
a top with four square sides that is spun in a children's game. On each side of
the dreidel is a character. The characters are read as "a great
miracle happened there" if played in America and "a great
miracle happened here" if played in Israel. Often the game is
played with chocolate Hanukkah gelt -- gold coins.
Make a dreidel and
play the game.
|The Maccabees were determined to retain
their beliefs and culture. After their victory they returned to the
Temple of Jerusalem and rededicated it.
||The word Hanukkah means
rededication. The holiday symbolizes a yearly rededication to the
Jewish faith and its traditions.
For more detailed information on the history and traditions of Hanukkah check
out the following sites:
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