If you asked me years ago I would say, “what the heck is Hanukkah?” Everybody knows about Christmas and how it is celebrated but it’s not often you meet someone who knows what Hanukah is and why it is special to so many. Hanukah (or Chanukah) is the Jewish eight-day “Festival of Lights.” It is commonly celebrated with fried foods, special prayers and a nightly Menorah lighting.
When is Hanukah? Every year, Hanukah begins on the 25th day of Kislev which is a month in the Hebrew calendar. It typically falls in December and this year begins in the evening of December 2nd, and ends in the evening of December 10th, 2018.
Why is Hanukah Celebrated? Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the second century B.C. The event occurred when Jews rose up against Greek-Syrian rulers in the Maccabean Revolt and drove them out of Jerusalem! #ByeFelicia To mark this victory the Jews wanted to reclaim the temple and light its menorah, but only found enough oil to burn for one day. That one-day supply lasted eight nights and the miracle instituted the festival of Hannukah.
What do you do during Hanukah? To celebrate the holiday we light the Menorah one candle for each night. You may wonder why there are 9 candles and only eight nights, this is because the shamash, (attendant/helper) is used to light the other eight candles. Oftentimes people will exchange a little gift each night, recite special blessings and enjoy doughnuts and latkes!
Why we made the switch. Many families will celebrate both Christmas and Hanukah! There is no right or wrong. My parents began teaching us and their grandchildren about Hanukah and it became a great way to learn about the jewish roots and opened the door to learning and studying holidays and where they came from. While controversy is not my forte’ Hanukkah just feels right for our family and it is exciting because it’s something Jesus' people actually celebrated! We don’t have to celebrate Hanukkah but we GET to! Christmas is special to so many people and was a huge part of our upbringing without question. It can also be such hard time for people and bring a lot of financial anxiety and stress. If you’re ever interested in researching the roots of the Christmas holiday I highly suggest you do- it is so interesting!
What Hanukkah means to us. Hanukah has quickly become one of our favorite times of the year and brings us joy and happiness. It is a reminder that the Lord is our light, the word is our light and that we should be a light to others! We need to shine because a little light can go a long way in such a dark world. I especially loved making the switch to Hanukah because all the beautiful decor and lights can stay up all winter and the festival is eight days long. Meaning no more of that day after Christmas sadness I felt so often. Anyone can celebrate Hanukkah and it is a beautiful piece of history. Even if you feel different, be like a menorah, proudly proclaiming uniqueness and beauty for all to see.
I hope this helps bring some light to Hanukkah and what it is. As you celebrate the Festival of Lights may your home be bright with joy and happiness. Happy Hanukkah friends!