On Hanukkah, Jews celebrate a miracle. It happened when a group of Jews decided to fight against their Greek rulers in the year 168 BCE. This group, called the Maccabees, fought to assert their freedom to worship according to their tradition, and to retake their place of worship, the Temple.
Their tiny army was able to overcome the mighty Greek Empire even though they had little oil to make light, only a day’s worth. They lit a candelabra called a Menorah and it miraculously burned for eight full days, providing enough time to prepare new oil. To the people, this was a miracle that gave them the strength to regain the place of worship and their faith.
From this single miracle, Jews everywhere celebrate each year to renew the wonder and belief in miracles. With every lamp that is kindled (the Menorah is used and lit each evening for eight days), there’s belief that more light is shed upon our earth and more miracles may come.
Keep reading to learn more about Hanukkah traditions!
The rituals for celebration include feasts of specific foods and games. Hanukkah feasts traditionally include latkes (potato pancakes) and Sufganiyot (jelly donuts). In the case of latkes and sufganiyot, some believe that they became traditional foods because of the fact that they are made in a great deal of oil, and therefore fried foods are eaten to commemorate the miracle associated with the Temple oil. Also, playing dreidel (with a specific spinning top containing 4 different sides, each labeled) is a traditional game played at Hanukkah.