Chanukah, a Jewish Holiday which means “dedication,” starts this year on Saturday December 8 and goes through Saturday December 15 for the traditional 8 days.
The Story Behind It
It all started in 168 BC. First the Syrian-Greeks made the Jews worship the Greek gods. Then the Jews rebelled. By 165 BC, they defeated the Syrian-Greeks and regained control of their holy Temple in Jerusalem. By then it was quite defiled. In order to purify it, they wanted to burn ritual oil in the Temple’s menorah for eight days. While it looked like the oil left was enough only for one day, this small amount of oil continued to burn for the full 8 days… and that was a miracle!
Chanukah, which means “dedication,” reminds us that this holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C.
It is customary for people who celebrate Chanukah to light candles each night starting with one and ending with eight. The candelabra is called a menorah, and there is a raised spot on each one for an extra candle called the “shamash” designed to light all the other candles.
Chanukah is a time for lights, happiness, and joy. While it is not a major holiday in Judaism, it has taken on a large celebratory quality because of its time-frame being so close to Christmas.