The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, or the "festival of lights,” begins on Sunday, Dec. 6 and lasts for eight nights, ending Dec. 14. It celebrates the miracle of light and goes back more than 2,000 years, according timeanddate.com.
Hanukkah’s meaning and manner of recognition changes according to where it’s being celebrated. Like all Jewish holidays, Hanukkah rarely begins on the same night every year, but its proximity to Christmas has made it a big, celebrated holiday in predominantly Christian nations, the website says.
Hanukkah commemorates the Jewish people’s successful rebellion against the Greeks in the Maccabean War in 162 BCE. The word Hanukkah means dedication, and the holiday is a rededication of a Jerusalem temple that banned Jews 2,000 years ago. It’s also a time of rededication of people’s faith to Judaism and a reminder of the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days.
To celebrate, Jews light a candle on the first night of Hanukkah, two on the second, and one more on each successive night of the holiday. Typical holiday food is cooked in oil, like latkes (potato pancakes) and jelly doughnuts.
On the first day of Hanukkah, it's traditional to play dreidel, a four-sided top used for games. The first night is also when people sing traditional songs and give gifts. In some places, Menorah car parades have become popular.
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