Chanukah (Hebrew: חנוכה) is an eight day Jewish festival, also known as the festival of lights. On each day a Menorah (an eight branched candelabra) is lit with an ascending number of candles to match the day. The reason for Chanukah is based on the story of the Maccabees battle with the Greeks. It is told that one pure bottle of olive oil lasted for eight days in the Holy Temple. It should have lasted only for the first day.
- It is customary to eat fried foods on Chanukkah because of the significance of oil to the holiday. Among Ashkenazic Jews, this usually includes latkes (potato pancakes fried in oil) and doughnuts.
- A popular game during Hanukkah is dreidel. The dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with one Hebrew letter inscribed on each face/side. These letters are Nun (like N), Gimel (like G), Hei (Like H) and Shin (like Sh). These letters stand for the Hebrew phrase Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, a great miracle happened there, referring to the miracle of the oil.
- There is a special prayer called for the Miracles said during all prayer sessions and grace after meals. In this prayer the Lord is thanked for allowing the Jewish minority to overcome their much larger and stronger enemies (a recurrent theme in Jewish survival).
- Chanukkah is not one of the Biblical festivals and Jews are permitted to work on Chanukkah.
Hanukkah Top Events and Things to Do
- An event that gathers much attention is the White House Hanukkah Party. Watch it on TV (some parts are broadcast) or YouTube.
- Play a dreidel game, which consists of spinning a special four-sided block with Hebrew letters. Once you're out of game pieces, you can either get a loan or you're out until one person collects all of the game pieces.
- Make latkes and donuts at home. Many recipes can be found online.
- Listen to a special song is sung after the lighting of the candles, called Maoz Zur, 'the Rock of our Salvation'. Many renditions of it can be found on YouTube.