Hannukah, the Jewish festival of lights, is fast approaching and millions prepare to recognise and celebrate the important day in the calendar. Often referred to as Chanukah, the holiday is a huge event with meaningful significance for the Jewish community. However, the Hannukkah meaning actually originates from a long time ago.
Let’s take a look at how to celebrate Hanukkah 2023, the dates food traditions and the important history behind the event.
What Does Hanukkah Mean?
Hanukkah, which derives from the Hebrew word ‘Chanukah’ translates to ‘dedicated’. This is obviously heavily linked to the origin story of the festival where a small group’s dedication to their faith ensured the survival of Judaism.
2,000 years ago, the land of Judea (modern-day Israel) was occupied by Seleucids who wanted everywhere to worship the Greek Gods. Their ruler, King Antiochus made Judaism against the law. When this was met with rebellion, he destroyed all of their temples and all altars were changed to centre around Zeus.
A small group of Jews, led by Judah the Maccebee decided to revolt against the Seleucids Army, a troop much larger and more prepared than the Maccabees. However, against all the odds, the Maccabees defeated the Seleucids and drove them from the land and reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
Once in the temple, they lit the candles with the remaining holy oil. Though this should have only burned for a day, the oil miraculously lasted for 8 days, just enough time for more holy oil to be created under the correct conditions.
From this the festival of Hanukkah was born, celebrating this miracle and the persistence of Judaism.
How To Celebrate Hanukkah 2023
There are many traditions associated with the festival that will certainly be celebrated in Hanukkah 2023.
One of the most iconic traditions is the lighting of the Menorah. Each day of Hanukkah a candle is lit representing the miracle until all 8 are lit. The candles are lit with a special ninth candle called a shamash (which translated means attendant), and it sits between the others, typically raised higher. The Menorah will then sit by the window or a doorway of the home as well as being found in temples and plenty of other public places.
After the daily candle is lit, prayers, blessings and songs are performed as a family. Traditionally, this is Hallel as well as adding V’Al HaNissim into their daily prayers to offer praise and thanks to God.
After this is done, a game of dreidel is played. A dreidel is a spinning top with Hebrew symbols on the four sides, all meaning something different. Depending on what side the dreidel lands on, you can win a pile of nuts or sweets to have in the evening.
Money is also traditionally given to children for Hanukkah presents on the last night. However, over recent years this has developed into small gifts exchanged each night of the festival
Hanukkah Food Traditions
As with many celebrations and festivals, there are Hanukkah food traditions that are enjoyed each year.
Unsurprisingly, the traditional foods linked to the history of Hanukkah are therefore cooked/deep-fried in oil. Two of the most famous examples are latkes and sufganiyots. The first, latkes are pancakes made with potatoes, garnished with applesauce or sour cream which sufganiyot are jelly doughnuts and are seen as a fan-favourite in Israel. Typically, these are had each evening after lighting the candle before the family sits down to play dreidel.
When Are The Hanukkah Dates For 2023?
Hanukkah 2023 falls on December 7, finishing on December 15. This is much earlier than last year when the festival ran across Christmas.
The celebration falls on a different date each year because it occurs according to the lunar calendar. Hanukkah always starts on the 25th day of Kislev, the ninth month of the Hebrew calendar. However, it will typically fall in November and December so it always happens around Christmas time.
Finalrentals wish all those celebrating a wonderful festival season.