For some of you who don’t know yet, Hanukkah is a celebration of the victory of the Israelites or Macabees over Antiochus, a Greek-Syrian ruler some millennia ago. Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days and nights all around the world with a special 9-branched candelabrum known as Hanukiah or Menorah. The day of Hanukkah falls on the Hebrew calendar’s 25th day of Kislev wherein it falls on varying dates on the Gregorian calendar.
The Most Fascinating Hanukkah Facts
1 While lighting the menorah, an ancient Hanukkah song is sang—the “HanerotHallalu.”
2 All through the celebration of Hanukkah, each menorah burns 44 candles. There is a sacred tradition that the candles are only lighted from left to right and that the Hanukkah candles are only added from right to left.
3 The first American President to recognize Hanukkah publicly was Jimmy Carter in 1979. He did the recognition in a candle lighting occasion held by Chabad Lubavitch.
4 The traditional Hanukkah food is cooked in oil in memory of the oil that burned in the temple. Nowadays, potato pancakes or latkes are the widespread Hanukkah food.
5 The menorah has a deeper meaning. When the Maccabees lit an eternal flame to rededicate their temple, they only had a day’s worth of consecrated oil. But, miraculously, the oil lasted for 8 days.
6 Originally, the menorah was placed outside the front door of a Jewish home. Now, it is displayed in the window.
7 Hanukkah is a minor holiday but the most celebrated and well-known Jewish festival.
8 Dreidel is a favorite toy that represents Hanukkah because there was a time when Syrians were forbidden to study the Torah, but with a Dreidel on hand, they could easily act as if they were playing and not studying.
9 The term Hanukkah means dedication—because dedication is what it takes to topple a superpower.
10 On the eighth and last night of Hanukkah in Germany, all the left over oils and wicks are gathered to light a giant bonfire.
+ Bonus Knowledge Nuggets
Hanukkah is not a celebration akin to Christmas. Although gift giving or giving gelt to kids is part of the tradition, as an incentive for the kids to study the Torah. Gelt is a Yiddish name for money. Gelt can be in the form of small chocolates wrapped in gold foil, checks, or even savings bond.
Learn more Facts about Christmas Eve
Video:The Story of Hanukkah
Learn about the miracle of Hanukkah. See the story come alive as the Maccabees celebrate the miracle of the Eight Nights of Hanukkah.
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