Hanukkah: A Jewish Festivity


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Hennessy Gonzalez, OwlFeed News Reporter

Hanukkah is a beautiful celebration in honor of a Jewish miracle, a miracle some would drop their jaws at, but the Jewish people give thanks for it every year. Hanukkah is a celebration that lasts eight days and celebrates a miracle from more than 2,000 years ago. Jewish people celebrate this holiday from late November to mid-December. This year Hanukkah starts on the evening of December 18th and ends on December 26th. In 175 B.C. 

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King Antiochus made it against the law for people who lived in Judea (present-day Israel) to practice their religion. This religion was called Judaism, but instead, he wanted the Jewish people to worship Greek gods. When they refused, he destroyed the Temple of Jerusalem, which was an important place of worship for the Jewish people. In addition to destroying it, he replaced Jewish symbols with an altar dedicated to Zeus, the King of the Greek Gods. The Jewish people, who were led by Judah the Macabee, rebelled against King Antiochus. Historians firmly believe that they fought for around three years so they could be an independent nation and practice their own religion. Around 164 B.C. the Maccabees finally defeated King Antiochus. When the Maccabees finally returned to their temple they only had enough oil to light one candle, but miraculously the candle stayed lit for eight days. This was enough time for Maccabees to find more oil for their sacred candles. Although King Antiochus was defeated the conflict was not finished, his followers continued to fight with the Jewish people for more than 22 years. By the year 142, the opposing groups signed a peace treaty and the Jewish people were finally allowed to practice their own religion. Hanukkah is celebrated on the ninth month of the Hebrew calendar, and it is called the Jewish calendar and it is used to track religious dates.

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 To celebrate the ancient miracle of the candle burning for eight days instead of one, the Jewish people burn a candle called the menorah. The menorah holds nine candles, eight to represent the days and one candle called the shamash used to light the other candles. The menorah is very structured and specific. On the first night, one candle is added to the menorah and lit, the adding and lighting of candles continues for eight nights. Throughout the journey of these events, people recite special blessings and prayers, sing songs, and exchange gifts. All of this stuff is carried out due to the miracle that took place more than 2,000 years ago. 

Some traditional foods in Hanukkah are deep-fried jelly donuts called sufganiyot and potato pancakes called latkes. Both of these traditional plates are fried and represent the long-time lasting lamp oil. The colors of Hanukkah are typically known to be blue and white or blue and silver. One of the most common reasons is due to the color of the Israeli flag. The flag’s blue stripes symbolize those found on a tallit, these are traditional Jewish prayer shawls. They are worn at synagogues, bars, bar mitzvahs, and Jewish weddings. In 1864, a Jewish poet named Ludwig August Frankl named blue and white “Judah’s Colors’ ‘. The colors also have universal meanings, white represents purity, peace, and light. Blue is associated with the sky, faith, wisdom, and truth. The color silver can also be thrown in from here to there just to add some sparkle but blue and white are more associated with the holiday. The dreidel is also a small but important symbol in the holiday. Engraved in the dreidel are a Nun, Gimel, Hey or Chai, and Shin. The letters form an acronym that says Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, translated this means “a great miracle happened there”. This represents the miracle of the candle burning for so long.  Hanukkah comes in many forms, it may be spelled Hanukkah or Chanukah. However, the most common way is Hanukkah. Regardless of if you celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas, everyone is accepted in this world, and definitely here at Agua Fria High School. Happy Holidays everyone!