All around the world, Jewish families celebrate the festival of lights called Hanukkah. Although the date of Hanukkah changes every year, as it starts of the 25th day of the Jewish calendar month of Kislev, it usually falls in December. Hanukkah last for eight days, but there's more to the “Festival of Lights” than just latkes and menorahs. This holiday celebrates one of the greatest miracles in Jewish history.

The festival reminds the Jewish people of a time over 2,000 years ago, when the Jews won a battle against the Greeks to practice their religion freely. The Greeks had banned all Jewish rituals and King Antiochus tried to make Jewish people bow down to a statue of him that had been put in the Jewish temple, and pray to Greek Gods. A small group of Jews called the Maccabees fought against this and, after a three-year war, they won. However, the Jewish temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. They cleaned and repaired the temple, then, to celebrate the victory, an oil lamp was lit in it. There was only enough oil to burn the candle for one day, but miraculously it burned for eight days.

The Hanukkah celebration revolves around the lighting of a nine-branched menorah, known in Hebrew as the hanukiah. On each of the holiday’s eight nights, another candle is added to the menorah after sundown; the ninth candle, called the shamash (“helper”), is used to light the others. Families typically recite blessings during this ritual and display the menorah prominently in a window as a reminder to others of the miracle that inspired the holiday.

In another allusion to the Hanukkah miracle, traditional Hanukkah foods are fried in oil. Potato pancakes (known as latkes) and jam-filled donuts (sufganiyot) are particularly popular in many Jewish households. Other Hanukkah customs include playing with four-sided spinning tops called dreidels and exchanging gifts. In recent decades, particularly in North America, Hanukkah has exploded into a major commercial phenomenon, largely because it falls near or overlaps with Christmas. From a religious perspective, however, it remains a relatively minor holiday that places no restrictions on working, attending school or other activities.

Source 1: https://www.significados.com/hanukkah/

Source 2: https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/35030671

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