Happy Hanukkah: 7 to 15 December 2023

Hanukkah (also spelled “Chanukah”) is an eight-day winter “festival of lights,” which begins each year on the 25th day of the Jewish calendar month of Kislev. Jewish people light special menorahs (candelabras), adding another flame each night, until on the eighth night eight flames are burning brightly.

Because the Hebrew calendar is based on the lunar cycle, the dates of Jewish holidays according to the Gregorian calendar change yearly. For this reason, the beginning of Hanukkah can range from late November to late December.

The story: Hanukkah is an 8-day Jewish festival marking the miraculous victory of the Maccabees, Jewish freedom fighters, over the Seleucidian Greek occupiers in the year 139 BCE. After recapturing Jerusalem’s Holy Temple, which had been converted into a place of idol worship, they searched for pure oil with which to light the Temple menorah. They found just enough to burn for one day, but miraculously it burned for eight days until more oil could be brought.

To commemorate the miracle, which involved oil, oily foods are enjoyed on Chanukah. Since the Middle Ages, doughnuts (sufganiyot) have been a Chanukah favorite. Among Ashkenazim, potato pancakes (latkes) are also a classic. It is also customary to eat dairy on Chanukah, recalling how the brave Yehudit served cheese and wine to a Greek general before defeating him.

Our Library has a lovely display for students to have look at and find out more…