Hanukkah - the festival of lights, is celebrated on the 25th day of the month of Kislev, which is based on the Jewish calendar. This year the festival began at sunset on December 4th.
The festival, which celebrates the victories of ancient Jewish heroes, is an eight- day fun-filled event, where families seek out blessings, eat yummy food and play games. In some families, children even receive a gift every night for eight days. Wow!- how cool is that?
Like most religious festivals, this one is also based on the victory of right vs. wrong. About 2,200 years ago a Greek king tried to impose (force) his culture on the people in his territory (area), despite the fact that most of them practiced the Jewish religion. The people rebelled and fought for three years before reclaiming the temple on Jeruslem's Mount Moriah. In the temple they found a small amount of oil, which they thought would light the temple light for one day. However, amazingly enough, the oil lasted for eight days, which is why Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days.
The lighting of the menorah is the most important tradition of Hanukkah. The menorah (pictured above) is a candleholder with nine branches. Eight candles represent the eight days of Hanukkah and are the same height. The ninth known as the Shamash (servant) is used for lighting the candles. One candle is lit on each day of the festival. Over the years, menorahs have become increasingly fancy. To see some really cool ones check out: www.jewish-art.org/pictures-of-a-menorah.html
The most popular game played is the Dreidal, which resembles a spinning top. The most popular foods are fried foods, in memory of the oil in the temple. While Latkes (potato pancakes) are very popular in the United States, in Israel (where the whole thing originally happened) the favorite food is sufganiya, a kind of jelly donut cooked in oil.
All in all, it sounds like a fun-filled eight days, just like festivals should be. Happy Hanukkah to all of you, and don't forget to watch the fun video below: