What is Hanukkah?

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Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrated every year starting on the 25th day of the month Kislev in the Jewish calendar, usually some time in November or December. Hanukkah is the celebration of a miracle from Jewish history!

In the story of Hanukkah, the Jewish Holy Temple had been destroyed by the Syrian people because their king had tried to outlaw the Jewish religion. A group of Jews known as the Maccabees decided to fight back against the king and his army -- and they won! The Jewish people were able to practice their religion freely once again, and took back their Holy Temple!

Inside the Holy Temple was a special light that was always supposed to stay lit. Because the temple had been destroyed, when the Jewish people went to rededicate it, they found there was only enough oil to keep the flame going for one day, and it would take eight days before they could get more! The miracle of Hanukkah is that the tiny bit of oil that should’ve only lasted for one day actually lasted for eight, until more could arrive!!

To remember this great miracle, Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah every year by lighting candles for eights days in a special candelabra (the menorah or hanukkiah) and by eating special foods like latkes (potato pancakes) which are made with oil! For many people, it has also become a tradition to give presents during Hanukkah, since it is a happy celebration to remember a great miracle.

by   (whyzz writer)
  • Exploration

    Dreidel!

    Another Hanukkah tradition is a special game called “Dreidel.” A dreidel is like a spinning top with four sides, and it has one Hebrew letter written on each of its sides. These letters stand for the first letter in each word of a sentence which translates to “A Great Miracle Happened There.” (Or, in Israel, “A Great Miracle Happened Here”!)

    The Dreidel Game is very simple -- everyone who plays starts out with the same number of pennies, or whatever other small object you want to use (like Cheerios!). There is also a pot in the center with the same number of pennies or Cheerios. Going around in a circle, everyone spins the top. Whichever letter it lands on dictates what you do!

    Most people divide it like this:

    ×  -- “Nun”: When the dreidel lands on “nun,” the player does nothing and the dreidel is passed to the next person.
    ×’ -- “Gimmel”: When the dreidel lands on “gimmel,” the player gets all of the coins or Cheerios in the center pot!
    ×” -- “Hey”: When the dreidel lands on “hey,” the player gets half of the pot in the center!
    ש -- “Shin”: When the dreidel lands on “shin,” the player puts one coin or Cheerio into the pot in the center!

    See if you can find a dreidel, and start up a game with your friends!!
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