Hanukkah, or Chanukah, is the eight-day Jewish celebration known for its nightly menorah lighting, delicious foods, and special prayers. A note to recognise that the writer does not have first-hand knowledge of this festival. Below is an abbreviated history and account of practices found through some online searches.
Chanukah is just one of the many spellings for the Hebrew word meaning “dedication.” The Jewish festival celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple. This dates back to the second century BCE when the people of Israel, led by Judah the Maccabee, drove the Greeks from the land and reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. There was only enough olive oil to light the Temple’s Menorah (a seven-branched candelabrum) for one day except that supply of oil ended up lasting for eight days.
A traditional menorah is lit nightly during the festival of lights; often accompanied by special blessings which are recited or sung with traditional songs. The menorah is made up of nine candles, with the center or shammash, used to light the other eight candles.
Part of the celebration is also reflected in the foods eaten and gifts given. Following the miracle of the oil, the festival typing involves eating fried foods. And a traditional gift is money, or “gelt,” given to children during these 8 days. We at Beyond Covid would love to hear your holiday traditions or favorite memories (Hanukkah related or otherwise)!
Author: Emily Polovick-Moulds