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What is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah is the Jewish eight-day, wintertime “festival of lights,” celebrated with nightly menorah lightings, special prayers, and fried (often dairy) foods.

Read: What Is Hanukkah?

What does the holiday of Hanukkah celebrate?

Hanukkah celebrates two miracles that happened in Judea in 139 BCE: The Jewish Maccabees beat the Syrian-Greek invaders, and a small jar of oil burned for 8 continuous days in the Temple menorah instead of just one.

Read: The Story of Hanukkah

What is the Hanukkah greeting?

The most common Hanukkah greeting is “Happy Hanukkah” in English or “Hanukkah sa-may-akh” in Hebrew.

Read: How to Say Happy Hanukkah

When is Hanukkah 2024?

The first night of Hanukkah 2024 starts at nightfall on Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2024, which is when the first candle is lit. The final candles are lit on Wednesday evening, Jan. 1, 2025, and the holiday concludes the following day, Jan. 2.

When does Hanukkah start in 2024?

Hanukkah 2024 starts at nightfall on Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2024, which is when the first candle is lit.

Read: The 8 Nights of Hanukkah

What does the word “Chanukah” mean?

Chanukah (Hanukkah) means “inauguration,” and it refers to the fact that the Temple altar was rededicated by the Maccabees after they expelled the idol-worshiping Greeks who had occupied the complex.

Read: The Midden Meanings of the Word Chanukah

Who are the Hanukkah heroes?

Led by Matityahu the High Priest and his son Judah Maccabee, the Jewish freedom fighters who beat the Syrian-Greeks and restored Jewish sovereignty in Judea are known as the Maccabees.

Read: 13 Facts About the Maccabees

Where does the name “Maccabee” come from?

The name is said to be an acronym for the rallying cry of Judah Maccabee (Judas Maccabeus or Yehuda Hamacabee), leader of the Jewish revolt against the Greeks: “Who is like You among the mighty, G‑d?!”).

Read: What Does Maccabee Mean?

When and for how long is Hanukkah?

The first night of Hanukkah is the eve of 25 Kislev (normally in November and December) and it is celebrated for 8 days.

Read: When is Chanukah This Year?

How is it spelled, Chanukah or Hanukkah?

While both spellings are correct, Chanukah is preferred by Ashkenazi Jews, while Hanukkah is more popular among Sephardim, those translating from Modern Hebrew, and non-Jews.

Read: Which Spelling Is More Correct, and Why?

Why does the date of Hanukkah seem to change each year?

Hanukkah is always on the same Hebrew date, 25 Kislev. Since the Hebrew months are tied to the cycle of the moon, they can drift a few weeks from the secular calendar, which is entirely solar.

Read: About the Jewish Months

How is Hanukkah celebrated?

Hanukkah is celebrated with nightly menorah lighting, added liturgy and Psalms, oily food treats such as doughnuts and potato or cheese pancakes, and giving cash gifts (gelt).

Read: How to Celebrate Hanukkah

When is the Hanukkah menorah lit?

The menorah is lit around (or after) nightfall on each of the 8 nights of Hanukkah, taking care to light before Shabbat begins on Fridays, and after Shabbat ends on Saturdays.

Read: When to Light?

In what order are the candles lit?

We add a new candle each night, starting with the flame on the far right: one on the first night, two on the second, etc. The candles are kindled from left to right, always starting with the newest candle.

Read: How to Light the Menorah

Is there significance to the blue and white Hanukkah candles?

Any color candle is perfectly acceptable. The popularity of blue and white is probably due to them being the colors of the state of Israel.

Read: What is Better, Candles or Oil?

What is the ninth candle for?

The ninth candle is known as the shammash, which means “servant” or “use.” It is used to light the rest of the candles and then remains burning, so that if we need to use the candlelight, we use the light from the shammash and not the sacred menorah light.

Read: Why the Menorah Has a 9th Candle

What blessings are said before lighting the menorah?

Each night, we say two blessings which conclude “... Who has sanctified us with His commandments and instructed us to light the Hanukkah lamp,” and “ … Who did miracles for our parents in those days in this time.” On the first night, we also say the “shehecheyanu” blessing.

Read (and Listen): The Menorah Blessings

Is it OK to use an electric menorah?

The Hanukkah lights should be real flames fueled by wax or oil—like the flames in the Holy Temple Menorah. Electric is fine for display purposes, as long as a real menorah is lit as well.

Read: Menorah Safety

Is Hanukkah a major or minor Jewish holiday?

Hanukkah is the only Jewish holiday not mentioned in Scripture, so it is minor compared to the High Holidays and the pilgrimage festivals. Yet, its observance is a mitzvah and its message of good over evil is of major significance.

Read: Is Hanukkah a Minor Jewish Holiday?

What are some Hanukkah songs?

Classics include Maoz Tzur (“Rock of the Ages”) and Haneirot Halalu (“These Lights”), hymns sung after lighting the menorah. Newer (and less reverent) additions include Dreidel Dreidel and Oh, Chanukah.

Browse: Chanukah Music

Is it mandatory to give gifts on Hanukkah?

It is not a mitzvah to give gifts on Hanukkah. However, there is a longstanding custom to give cash (“gelt”) on Hanukkah, especially as a reward for Torah study.

Read: Why the Hanukkah Gelt?

Why the Hanukkah gelt chocolate coins?

There is a longstanding custom to give cash (“gelt”) on Hanukkah, especially as a reward for Torah study. The foil-wrapped chocolate coins were introduced by enterprising American candy makers.

Read: Make Cookies With Chocolate Coins

What is a Dreidel?

Dreidel is Yiddish for “spinning top,” the four-sided toy played with on Hanukkah, known as a sevivon in Hebrew. Each side is emblazoned with another Hebrew letter, nun (נ), gimmel (ג), hey (ה) and shin (ש), an acronym for nes gadol hayah sham, “a great miracle happened there.”

Read: What Is a Dreidel?

How to play Dreidel?

Here are some rules of the game: Tokens are given to each player and to a general pot. When the dreidel lands on נ, do nothing. When it lands on ג, take the entire pot (which everyone replenishes). When it lands on ה, give half your tokens to the pot. When it lands on ש, give all your tokens to the pot.

Read: Full Dreidel Instructions

What are some of the traditional Hanukkah foods?

Since oil reminds us of the miracle of the oil lamps burning for 8 days straight, potato pancakes (latkes) and jelly donuts (sufganiyot) are common favorites. And since Judith used cheese to entice and slay the enemy general, dairy is customary as well.

Browse: Chanukah Recipes

May work be performed on Hanukkah?

Work may be performed on Hanukkah, as it is a rabbinic (not Biblical) holiday. However, there is a longstanding custom for women to refrain from working while the Hanukkah flames burn.

Read: Why Don’t Women Work While the Candles Burn?

What are Hanukkah prayer services?

On Hanukkah, V’al Hanisim (“And for the Miracles”) is inserted in the Amidah and Grace after Meals. Hallel (Psalms of praise) and Torah reading are added to morning services, and blessings are said before lighting the menorah.

What is correct, Menorah or Hanukkiah?

Menorah is Hebrew for “lamp,” and it was historically the most widely used term for the candelabra kindled on Hanukkah. Hanukkiah, on the other hand, was popularized by the creators of Modern Hebrew.

Read: Menorah vs. Hanukkiah

Is Hanukkah mentioned in the Bible?

The story of Hanukkah took place after the close of the Biblical canon. Unlike Purim, which is recorded in the Book of Esther and Tractate Megillah, Hanukkah is not in the Bible and has relatively scant coverage in the Talmud.

Read: Why No Tractate Hanukkah?

Why is Hanukkah 8 days long?

It took 8 days to bring fresh olive oil from Tekoa to Jerusalem, and for that entire time the oil in the menorah miraculously burned. According to Kabbalah, 8 symbolizes the miraculous, above 7, which represents the natural cycle.

Read: The Significance of 8