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Hanukkah History and Traditions

Hanukkah History and Traditions

Few Jewish holidays are as widely celebrated as Hanukkah.

In this article, let us examine the history of Hanukkah and discover how the Jewish Christmas became known as the Festival of Lights.

We'll also look at some traditions associated with Hanukkah and see why these traditions make sense even though they seem strange.

I hope you will enjoy learning about Hanukkah as much as I enjoyed writing this.

When Is Hanukkah?

The 25th of Kislev (the month corresponding to December) marks the beginning of Jewish celebrations commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple eight years after its destruction at the hands of Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

The holiday lasts eight days and celebrates the victory of Judah over the Syrian-Greek king. It also marks the end of the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid rule and the beginning of the Hasmonean dynasty.

What Does Hanukkah Mean?

Hanukkah History and Traditions

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The word "Hanukkah" itself comes from the Hebrew word for "dedication" or "consecration." During the eight-day celebration, individuals from all walks of life will be seen publicly lighting candles in various settings.

Apples bathed in honey are among the traditional meals served on the first night of Hanukkah. These dishes, together with almonds, dried fruits, and wine, are all components of a meal called the Hagaddah.

According to tradition, Hanukkah began when the Greeks attempted to destroy the temple in Jerusalem and captured the holy city from the Judeans in 168 BCE.

The menorah was then returned to its rightful place when the Jews later reconstructed the temple. This event became known as Hanukkah, meaning dedication or consecration.

Why Is Hanukkah Celebrated?

Hanukkah History and Traditions

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According to the Talmud, Hanukkah is a celebration of freedom. During the Greek occupation of Jerusalem, many Jews were forced into slavery.

After the destruction of the temple, Israel lacked a centralized government. Instead, they lived under foreign rule.

When the Jews rebuilt the temple, however, they regained their independence. For this reason, Hanukkah has also come to be known as the Festival of Freedom.

The Miracle of the Oil

Hanukkah History and Traditions

The Talmud tells a story about the Greeks who tried to destroy the temple with fire. However, miraculously, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, sent them a supply of olive oil.

This miraculous oil lasted for only about three hours before it ran out. But the miracle continued because the oil did not burn up completely. Rather, it remained liquid until the following morning.

On the second day of Hanukkah, the oil burned brightly again. This miracle inspired the Jews to continue fighting back against the Greeks. The oil continued to burn for eight days and nights.

The Hanukkah Blessings

Hanukkah includes a number of blessings. These blessings serve the purpose of reminding us of our history and traditions.

The blessings refer to everything from the fact that the Jews were once slaves in Egypt to how the olive oil lasted eight days and nights without burning up.

Each blessing contains a reference to the miracles of Hanukkah.

The Haggada

During the Hanukkah season, the Haggada is read at services on the first night of Hanuka. The Haggada tells the tale of how the Maccabees freed the Jews from the Greeks.

The Haggada also explains why Hanukkah is celebrated.

The Haggadot (the plural form of Haggada) are often referred to as the Haggadot Shel Hanukkah. The word "Haggadah" literally means "telling" or "story."

Lighting Hanukkah Candles

Hanukkah History and Traditions

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Traditionally, Hanukkah candles have seven colors. Red represents the blood of martyrs; blue symbolizes the sky; yellow represents the sun; green symbolizes nature; purple represents royalty; orange represents wisdom, and white represents purity.

Each candle burns for approximately 30 minutes.

During the lighting ceremony, each person recites a prayer. This prayer begins by asking God to bless the Jewish nation. Then the prayers ask for forgiveness for those who do evil. Finally, the prayer asks for strength to fight against enemies.

Teaching Hanukkah to Kids

Hanukkah History and Traditions

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You can quickly lose children's attention if you give them a lengthy, detailed account of the events of Hanukkah. As a result, you should probably teach them about the holiday in a way that's entertaining and easy to understand.

Here are some ideas:

  • Have your children draw pictures of what they remember about Hanukkah. You can use these drawings as decorations during the holiday.
  • Tell your children stories about Hanukkah.
  • Introduce songs about Hanukkah and have sing-along sessions.
  • Read books about Hanukkah together.
  • Quiz your children about Hanukkah: Why does Hanukkah last eight days? What is the meaning of the menorah? How many lights are there on the menorah?

Teaching children about Hanukkah is integral to preserving traditions

As we celebrate the holidays, we need to remember their beginnings.

In addition to teaching our kids about the history of Hanukkah and other important aspects of Judaism, we should also teach them the importance of preserving our heritage.

If we don't pass along our traditions, they will disappear forever.

Teaching your children about Hanukkah can also help them to have fun while celebrating a traditional holiday.

In addition, this can help your children build a connection with other community members and allow them to form happy memories associated with Judaism.

What to teach your children about Hanukkah

There are many things to teach your children about Hanukka. Here are some suggestions:

  • Explain the significance of the menorah.
  • Discuss why the oil lasts for eight nights.
  • Discuss the symbolism of the eight-branched candelabrum.
  • Explain the concept of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world).
  • Talk about the story of the Maccabee brothers.
  • Discuss the miracles performed by the Maccabeans.
  • Lighten things up with Lalo's Hanukkah Jokes

Delicious Traditional Hanukkah Meals

Hanukkah History and Traditions

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Hanukkah, like many holidays, is more than a traditional religious event. It is also a holiday that involves a feast made up of delicious traditional meals.

The following meals are just a few examples of foods traditionally served at Hanukkah.


This dish is usually eaten around Chanukah time. The word kugel means "dumpling." Kugel is typically filled with jelly or jam.


During the festival of Hanukkah, cakes are baked in shapes similar to the menorah. They symbolize the eight-branched candelabrum. These cakes are called latkes. Latke means "little cake" in Yiddish.

Latkes are sometimes topped with (my favorite) applesauce or sour cream.

Poppy seed cake

During Hanukkah, this type of cake is often served. It is a sponge cake covered with poppy seeds.

Sugar cookies

These cookies are shaped like the eight-branch menorah and are deliciously sweet.

Hanukkah Family Fun

Hanukkah History and Traditions

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While many people are excited about spending quality time with friends and loved ones, some families may struggle to come up with fun activities to do together during the holidays.

However, there are plenty of ways to make the most out of the upcoming holiday season without breaking the bank. Here are three ideas to help you plan a memorable Hanukkah celebration:

1) Start early

If possible, start planning for Hanukkah well ahead of time. This way, you'll have enough time to purchase gifts, decorate the house, and prepare food.

If you wait too long, you might end up scrambling around the last few days of December, trying to find viable ways to celebrate the holiday.

2) Involve the whole family

Ensure that every family member is involved in the planning stages to promote togetherness.

For example, you can ask older kids to help make the food and set the table. The younger kids can help light candles or sing songs.

As a result, everyone will enjoy the holiday spirit together and feel included in the festivities.

3) Keep the celebrations simple

You don't need to spend much money to throw a successful Hanukkah party, especially if you stick to inexpensive decorations and food.

Instead of buying expensive presents, encourage your children to create gifts for each other.

This way, they'll feel like they're truly partaking in the festivities.

What I Do to Keep Hanukkah Alive

I love the idea of celebrating Hanukkah. But on the other hand, preserving the joyous mood of the occasion is not always easy. However, I know some tips and tricks to make the most of the holiday.

First, I try to remember to light the first candle on my menorah every night before bedtime. Then, I light another candle when I wake up the next morning. By doing so, I'm reminding myself that Hanukkah has been lit since the previous evening.

Second, I try to eat a little bit healthier during December and focus on healthy snacks such as nuts, fruits, and vegetables, but I also stuff my face with festive treats when I get the chance.

Finally, I try to make sure that I take time to relax and unwind after work and enjoy any time I have off from my job.

Hanukkah with Lalo

One way of keeping Hanukkah traditions alive is by using Lalo. Lalo offers tons of traditional ideas and knowledge about celebrating Hanukkah, including some epic trivia and hilarious jokes. Keep your Hannukah alive, with the help of Lalo.

Wrapping Up

Hanukkah History and Traditions

Photo by: cottonbro on Pexels

Hanukkah is a holiday that celebrates the Jewish people's victory over their enemies, the Greeks. But even though it's a religious celebration, Hanukkah has become a secular holiday too.

This year, celebrate Hanukkah with family and friends by lighting candles, playing dreidel games, and enjoying delicious foods from around the world. Happy Hanukkah!

Top 25 Questions About Hanukkah

Hanukkah History and Traditions

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1) What is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration known as the festival of lights. This holiday celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabees defeated the Greek army led by Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

The holiday lasts eight nights and includes special prayers, blessings, and rituals. It begins at sundown on the 25th day of Kislev (the Hebrew month that corresponds to December).

2) When is Hanukkah 2022? What are the Hanukkah dates this year? When is the first day of Hanukkah?

Starting on the Hebrew calendar date of 25 Kislev, the eight-day festival of Chanukah (Hanukkah) begins at sunset on December 18, 2022, and concludes at nightfall on December 26, 2022.

3) What are the Hanukkah candles? Where can I buy them?

Hanukkah candles have seven colors. Red represents the blood of martyrs; blue symbolizes the sky; yellow represents the sun; green symbolizes nature; purple represents royalty; orange represents wisdom, and white represents purity. Each candle burns for approximately 30 minutes.

You can buy Hanukkah candles from Amazon, check out these two awesome ones I found on the site:

4) Is it hanukkah or chanukah ? What's the difference? How do you spell Hannukah?

Both spellings are valid; however, the more traditional form, Chanukah is less common than Hanukkah. Additionally, over twenty additional variants have been documented.

5) Is there a special Hanukkah prayer?

There is more than one special Hanukkah prayer. Different prayers and blessings are recited and sung during different stages of the celebrations. You can check them out here.

6) Are there Hanukkah cookies? Hanukkah donuts? Other Hanukkah food?

Yes, there are many different types of Hanukkah foods. Some of my favorites include sugar cookies, latkes, sufganiyot (jelly donuts), and chocolate coins.

7) What are the Hanukkah songs?

Traditional Hanukkah songs include:

  • Dreidel Song
  • Blessings for Menorah
  • and many more

Modern Hanukkah songs include;

8) Are there any good Hanukkah movies?

Just like Christmas, Hanukkah too has many movies and films dedicated to the holiday. This Hannukah you should check out some awesome Hanukkah films like Eight Crazy Nights, Full Court Miracle, and An American Tail.

9) How long is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah lasts for 8 days starting on the 25th day of Kislev, which this year is December 18th, 2022.

10) Are there Hanukkah gifts?

There are tons of Hanukkah-themed gifts and presents that you can offer to your loved ones. See some of our favorites available to buy on Amazon below:

11) What is the Hanukkah bush?

A Hanukkah bush is a bush erected in your home during the Hanukkah period. This practice is somewhat controversial, however, as many view the Hanukkah bush as a Christian symbology jumping across into Judaism.

If you wish to incorporate a Hanukkah bush into your festivities, you can decorate it with these ornaments available on Amazon;

12) Where can I get Hannukah cards?

You should check your local stores and card shops for Hanukkah cards. You can also buy Hanukkah cars from Amazon, see below for some great options;

With these cards, you can also donate to Unicef by making a purchase:

13) Is there a Hanukkah greeting?

We can wish one another a happy Hanukkah or a joyful Festival of Lights by saying "Hanukkah sameach" or "Chag urim sameach," respectively.

14) What are the Hanukkah colors?

The seven Hanukkah colors are as follows: red, blue, yellow, green, purple, orange, and white.

15) What is the Hanukkah story?

Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple after its desecration by the Romans in 70 CE. It begins on Kislev 25 (the day before Hanukkah) and ends on Hanukkah night. The festival celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greeks who had occupied Jerusalem and desecrated the temple.

The holiday lasts eight days because the Maccabee brothers were able to defeat their enemies only during this period. They won back control of the temple and rededicated it on the ninth day.

During the holiday, men light candles on one kind of candle holder called a hanukiah. Women light candles on another kind of candlestick called a chanukiah. These two types of candles are symbolic of the Maccabean revolt against the Syrians.

Chanukiahs are usually made out of silver, gold, or precious stones. They come in different sizes and shapes. Men typically wear them while women often use them as decorative objects.

16) Where can I find Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song?

You can find Adam Sandler's epic Hanukkah hit online through music streaming platforms or on Youtube by clicking the link below;


17) What is the Hanukkah dreidel?

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday during which people play with a four-sided spinning top known as the Dreidel.

18) Where can I find Hanukkah trivia?

On Lalo! Lalo contains dozens of pieces of Hanukkah trivia. This trivia can be used to educate young ones or to settle family disputes. You can also use trivia to create an at-home Hannukah game show to entertain family and loved ones over the holiday season.

19) Where can I find Hanukkah jokes?

On Lalo! We have heaps of Hanukkah humor to keep you laughing during the festival. After all, who doesn't love having a laugh with loved ones?

20) Where can I find Hanukkah decorations?

You can find Hanukkah decorations on Amazon, check out the links below for more:

21) Where can I find Hanukkah pajamas?

22) Is there a Hanukkah tree?

A Hanukkah tree is a tree you erect within your house for the holiday. However, same as with the bush, there are many who disagree with this tradition and hold the belief that the Hanukkah tree is actually a Christian emblem that has been appropriated by the Jewish people.

23) Tell me about Hershel and the Hanukkah goblins

Children will enjoy Eric Kimmel and Trina Schart Hyman's 1989 picture book, Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. It tells the story of Hershel of Ostropol, a Jewish folk hero and trickster character who, over the course of the eight nights of Hanukkah, challenges and defeats a number of goblins using trickery.

24) Is there a Hanukkah gelt?

Hanukkah gelt is the name for the money that is exchanged as gifts during the Jewish holiday.

25) What app can I use to share Hanukkah memories in a private, ad-free space?


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