December 29, 2016
The History of Hanukkah

The Festival of Lights—Hanukkah—is now underway, continuing this year through Sunday, January 1st.

While there are, perhaps, more religious holidays in the Jewish faith than any other religion from Yom Kippur to Rosh Hashanah to the Fast of Gedalia, one of the more recognizable celebrations of Jewish tradition is not religious in nature. Rather, Hanukkah celebrates a nation’s heroes and the miracle they experienced!

As you may or may not know, Hanukkah recognizes the efforts of a group of freedom fighters known as the Maccabees. Around 150 BC, this brave clan battled Antiochus, a foreign monarch who ruled Israel with an iron fist. Though vastly outnumbered, they were able to take back the Holy Temple from their conquerors. In Hebrew, Hanukkah means “dedication,” and those brave warriors truly were that!

There are, of course, religious overtones to the Hanukkah celebration. Also known as the “Festival of Lights,” the holiday commemorates a miracle that took place during the struggle. Once they had secured the temple, the Maccabees discovered that there was only enough oil present to allow them to read the Torah for one day. However, and this is the miracle, the lamp stays lit for eight days!

As a result of this miracle, the Jewish celebration includes the lighting of the Menorah, an eight-pronged candelabra that bears eight candles. Each night of the Hanukkah celebration another candle is lit. As they light the candle, a prayer is recited that gives honor to God for performing the miracle for the heroic Maccabees.

To read and learn more, go to: Hanukkah History & Traditions.

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