Often referred to as the Jewish Christmas, Hanukkah or Chanukah is a festival celebrated for eight days, usually in the month of December. It is also known as the “festival of lights.” This year, Hanukkah festivities are taking place from December 7 to December 15.
Honoring History: The Rededication of the Second Temple
Hanukkah is observed to commemorate the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem around 200 BC. Legend has it that during the Maccabean Revolt, Jews rebelled against their Greek-Syrian oppressors, leading to the term “rededication.”
Miracle of the Oil: A Symbol of Resilience
Under Greek rule, Jews were forbidden to practice their religion until they recaptured Jerusalem in 164 BC. The purification of the Second Temple and the discovery of a jar of oil, miraculously lasting eight days instead of one, is central to the celebration.
The Illuminating Hanukkiah: Symbolism and Tradition
Despite the term “menorah” commonly used, Hanukkah involves lighting the hanukkiah, a nine-branched candelabrum. The ninth holder, known as the “helper” or shamash, is used to light the other eight candles after blessings.
The Calendar Dance: Commencement of the Festival
The Jewish Festival of Lights begins on the 25th day of the month of Kislev, the ninth month in the Jewish calendar. The commencement date varies in the Gregorian calendar; for instance, in 2022, Hanukkah started on December 18.
Evolution of Traditions: Gifts and Culinary Delights
Originally devoid of gift-giving, Hanukkah has evolved into a more commercial celebration. The tradition of giving gifts, especially to children, has become a significant part. Additionally, indulging in deep-fried delights like round jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot) and potato pancakes (latkes) adds flavor to the festivities.
Prime Minister Modi Wishes
The Prime Minister posted on X, tagging Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel:
“Hanukkah Sameach! I extend my warmest greetings to our Jewish friends in India and around the world on the occasion of Hanukkah. May this festival bring peace, hope and brightness in everybody’s lives. @netanyahu”
Important Questions Related to Exams
Q. Who celebrates Hanukkah?
Answer: Hanukkah is a Jewish festival, and it is primarily celebrated by Jewish communities around the world.
Q. When does the Jewish Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, typically commence in the Jewish calendar?
Answer: Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of the month of Kislev, the ninth month in the Jewish calendar.
Q: What is the historical context of Hanukkah, specifically regarding the prohibition of Jewish religious practices?
Answer: Under Greek rule, Jews were forbidden to practice their religion until the recapture of Jerusalem in 164 BC.