Hanukkah, also known as the “Festival of Lights”, is a Jewish festival. Hanukkah takes place around the same time as Christmas.
Lighting the Menorah
Every night of Hanukkah, a candle is lit on the candle stick. There are 8 candles, one for each day of Hanukkah. The lamp is called the Menorah. When a temple was destroyed in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, it was filled with a days worth of oil. However, the light lasted for 8 whole days when they rebuilt the temple.
Once the candles have been lit, a dreidel (below) is spun, usually by children. The four Hebrew letters that are printed on each side are a Hebrew abbreviation for “A great miracle happened here.”
Chanukkah money, also known as gelt, is given to children during Hanukkah. The amount of money given is usually in small coins. This tradition started in Eastern Europe in the 16th century where children gave some money to their teachers to thank them.
To celebrate the fact that only a small amount of oil is needed to light the Menorah, most of the food is baked in some kind of oil, usually olive oil. Traditional food include latkes (a potato pancake) and sufganiyot (jam-filled doughnuts).
The story behind Hanukkah
In Jerusalem, around 2000 years ago, the king at the time thought everyone should follow the Greek religion. However, there were a small group of Jews called the Maccabees defeated the king’s army.
Once they had fought the army, the group found a Jewish temple in ruins. They decided to repair it. In the Menorah, there was enough oil for 1 day, but it lasted 8 days!