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Hanukkah, or sometimes spelt Chanukah, is the eight day Jewish Celebration often known for the menorah, and dreidels. However, Hanukkah is so much more. 

Hanukkah is a celebration of the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 160BCE (Before Common Era). It is also called "The Festival of Lights," where it is observed for eight days, and eight nights symbolized by the lighting of the menorah. Each night, an additional candle is lit, until all nine candles are lit. Descriptions of Hanukkah are seen both in the Books of Maccabees, the Narrative of Josephus, as well as in other early Rabbinic sources and ancient texts.

Why Nine Candles? 

You may be wondering why there are nine candles on the menorah if there are only eight days of Hanukkah. This is because there is once candle in the centre of the menorah that is sat higher than the rest, which is used to light the other eight candles. This candle is typically known as the shamash. The history states that Hanukkah is eight days and eight nights because the oil in the menorah at the altar in Jerusalem lasted for eight full nights. On the first night of Hanukkah, during the lighting of the first candle there typically is a blessing spoken, which makes a total of three blessings over the eight nights of Hanukkah. 

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Celebrations

Besides lighting the menorah on each night of Hanukkah, other festivities include spinning dreidels, latkes (fried potato pancakes), sufganiyot (similar to jelly filled doughnuts), and more. Both foods eaten on the holiday are oil based and also further symbolize the burning of the oil in the menorah for eight nights. In Israel and North America it is common for children to receive gifts on each night of Hanukkah. At this time, the children are also encouraged to give to charity in lieu of receiving presents themselves. 

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrated every year around the same time as Christmas. This year, Hanukkah falls between the dates of December 10, 2020 and December 18, 2020. I encourage everyone this year to not only wish those you know a Merry Christmas, but a Happy Holidays. You never know who may be celebrating Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas. 

 

 

 

Maddie is a fourth year student at the University of Ottawa majoring in History. She is a major fan of Friends, and The Office and is a geek for all things history. Maddie loves food, relaxing, and her cat.
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