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  • Writer's pictureMika Groode

Celebrating Hanukkah this Year

Hanukkah is an important tradition to the Jewish people because it celebrates their longevity and resilience. In Western culture, some think of Hanukkah as ‘the Jewish Christmas,’ yet this comparison is inaccurate because Hanukkah’s importance in Judaism does not surpass the importance of the high holidays such as Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana. Hanukkah is not one of the major Jewish holidays like Christmas is for Christianity.

Hanukkah is an eight-day holiday that celebrates the liberation of the second temple. Traditions such as lighting the candles and eating latkes came to remember the miracle of the oil lasting the Jews for eight nights. There is a modern-day joke that compares the miracle of a little can of oil lasting eight nights to an almost empty phone battery lasting for eight days.

Photo by Daxson Calvert

Candles lit on a menorah for Hanukkah.

It is not a coincidence that Hanukkah and Christmas are celebrated at the same time of the year. Although Hanukkah is celebrated according to the Hebrew calendar, it is always around the months of November or December. During wintertime in the old days, the dark and cold nights encouraged people to anticipate some warmth and light in their lives. Therefore, having a holiday that revolves around light made sense for various traditions.

Hanukkah is also called the festival of lights because part of the tradition is to light the menorah for eight nights, starting with one candle for the first night, two for the second night, and so on. On the eighth night, people light a whole menorah of eight candles, along with one helper candle. Jewish people in the U.S. adapted some of the Christmas traditions, such as gift-giving. This is not a Hanukkah tradition, besides giving chocolate coins or a small amount of money to the kids.

Photo by Daxson Calvert

Candles lit on a menorah for Hanukkah in front of figurines (which have no particular significance).

Hanukkah is a fun Holiday that is well known in western cultures due to its proximity to Christmas and its importance as a celebration for Jewish people. It is one of the holidays that, besides its religious significance, also brings a lot of joy and beauty during a darker time of the year.

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