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When Is Hanukkah

Updated on February 7, 2013
Hanukkah Menorah or Hanukkiyah
Hanukkah Menorah or Hanukkiyah | Source

What Is Hanukkah

The Festival Of Lights

In Hebrew, Hanukkah—or Chanukah—means, "to dedicate." Technically speaking, it is an eight day celebration that begins on the 25th day of the Hebrew month, Kislev. This generally corresponds to late November and late December on the secular calendar. Because the dates shift annually on the secular calendar, some find it difficult to keep track of just "when" Hanukkah begins. To help with this issue, at the bottom of this article I have provided you with a ten year table that defines years 2012 through 2021 for Hanukkah start and stop dates. We Jews call it Hanukkah, to remind us of the re-dedication of the holy temple in Jerusalem following the defeat of the Zeus worshiping Syrian-Greek ruler Antiochus, in 165 B.C.E. You can discover more about the Hanukkah story, the menorah, the dreidel, and why each has become such a prolific icon for the Jewish people by reading further.

What Is The Menorah

What Does The Menorah Symbolize

The Menorah is a symbol of the miracle of the oil. After defeating the Jews in war, the Greeks had defiled the first Jewish temple by practicing animal (swine) sacrifices and worshiping foreign Greek gods. After many years, the Maccabees reacquired their land from the Greeks, but it would be necessary to purify the temple of the many disgraces that had taken place there. They would have to burn the temple's oil in the temple's menorah for a number of days; eight days to be exact.

The burning of  Hanukkah candles signifies the miracle of the temple oil.
The burning of Hanukkah candles signifies the miracle of the temple oil. | Source

The Jews Needed Eight Days Of Temple Oil

When time came to burn the temple's oil, they found only enough oil to burn for a single day; surely this would not be enough. These dedicated people continued with the purification ritual anyway; only to discover, to much surprise, that the oil did in fact burn for all of those eight days after all. This is known as the miracle of the Hanukkah oil. It is the reason for the annual celebration where Jews light a special menorah—hanukkiyah—for eight consecutive days as a reminder to all who observe Hanukkah, that the festival of lights reflects the miracle which occurred in the first temple.

Proper Lighting Of The Menorah

Always start at far right, use the ninth candle to light all of the other eight candles—the shamash, or attendant—is the ninth or middle candle, and is always lit first. The shamash is not counted among the eight candles of Hanukkah. It is customary to light the menorah right at or soon after sundown. Should Hanukkah happen to fall on Shabbot, it is very important to light the Hanukkiyah just before sundown. Light one candle a day, and recite prayers accordingly for each of the eight days.

Blessing On The Menorah (Audio) - Text and prayers

Learn How To Light The Menorah Candles For Hanukkah

What You Think Really Does Matter!

Do you, or someone you know observe Hanukkah?

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What Is A Dreidel

The History Of The Dreidel

A dreidel is a spinning top that became an important Jewish icon in the second century. In 165 B.C.E., the Greek army—ruled by King Antiochus—lorded over the holy land that once belonged to the Jews. Prior to the Maccabees taking back this land, the King created laws that made studying a majority of the mitzvot (commandments) and all of the Torah punishable by death. Due to these laws, and because no Jew worth his/her weight in shekels would survive without the great words of the Torah to study, they had to find ways to study in covert fashion. This is where the dreidel comes in.

Hide The Torah, Spin The Dreidel

When the youngest members of the tribe would gather in groups to learn and study the Torah with the elders, they had to be very careful because the king's army would regularly patrol the outlying areas where the Jews resided, mostly the outer forest areas. Should the elders or children hear the approaching army while studying the Torah, they would quickly dispatch their books and pull out a dreidel from a pocket or satchel. This would give the soldiers the impression that the group of kids were simply being supervised while playing a spinning top game we call "spinning the dreidel." The dreidel top, and the game we recognize today, is a tribute to these remarkable efforts of our Jewish ancestors to honor the teaching of the Jewish children, as well as themselves, with the words found in the Torah.

10 Years of Hanukkah Dates (2012 Through 2021)

(click column header to sort results)
STARTS (at sundown)  
December 8th
December 16th
November 27th
December 5th
December 16th
December 24th
December 6th
December 14th
December 24th
January 1st
December 13th
December 20th
December 3rd
December 10th
December 23rd
December 30th
December 11th
December 18th
November 29th
December 6th
Information derived from the Farmer's Almanac

Where Did The Jewish-Roman War Take Place (165 B.C.E.)

Judea and Samaria:
Judea and Samaria

get directions

Following the Jewish-Roman Wars, the region was renamed Syria Palaestina, better known as The West bank today.

Comments for "When Is Hanukkah And Its Traditions"

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  • cardelean profile image


    5 years ago from Michigan

    Great hub India! I have always loved the story of Hanukkah. This year as part of our Advent celebration, the kids and I will be reading some stories about Hanukkah and learning about the celebration. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    5 years ago from Northern, California

    Sharkye11~ Thrilled you learned about Hanukkah by reading the hub. Thanks for the hublove and for stopping by!

    Happy Hanukkah~

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    5 years ago from Northern, California

    editorsupremo~ Thank you for commenting. For those who are interested in knowing when Hanukkah starts and ends for the next ten years, a ten year chart is found within the article! There is a lot more about Hanukkah that I did not explain in this article!

    Cheers and Happy Hanukkah~

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    5 years ago from Northern, California

    Denise Handlon~ So glad you found a little info you didn't already know about! Happy Hanukkah, my dear friend!

    Shalom and HubHugs~

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    5 years ago from Northern, California

    Daisy Mariposa~ Happy Hanukkah to you too, my friend!

    Big HubHugs~

  • Sharkye11 profile image

    Jayme Kinsey 

    5 years ago from Oklahoma

    Beautiful hub! I knew about how these things were used, but not an in depth history of how they came to be so important. Voting up and sharing!

  • editorsupremo profile image


    5 years ago from London, England

    I enjoyed your article and explanation of Hannukkah .I now know what it means and can converse with knowledge about Hannukkah with my Jewish colleagues. Thanks.

  • Denise Handlon profile image

    Denise Handlon 

    5 years ago from North Carolina

    India-Thank you for writing this. Although there are many resources to investigate the meaning behind the symbols of Hanukkah, I love the way you simplify the explanation. I've been aware of the symbols and the story behind the Menorah, I was not aware of the story behind the Dreidel, so that was new information for me. Beautiful job, (as always) with the thoroughness of the resources available here, including that 10 year table. Great idea. :) Up/U/I and shared

    Today is December 8th: Happy Hanukkah, my friend.

  • Daisy Mariposa profile image

    Daisy Mariposa 

    5 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)


    Happy Hanukkah! Happy Chanukah!

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    5 years ago from Northern, California

    RTalloni~ I am so glad you appreciated the video...these prayers always bring back such wonderful Hanukkah memories. I am so grateful that shared verses from The Old Testament, a gracious gift on this day. I am praying for peace in Jerusalem every minute these days. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and beautiful words.

    HubHugs and Shalom~

  • RTalloni profile image


    5 years ago from the short journey

    It is always interesting to read about the history of Hanukkah, as well as other Jewish holidays. We read in the Old Testament, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem" and the command comes with a promise. One commentator writes, "Let her unanimity never be disturbed; let her prosperity ever be on the increase!" Enjoyed the video very much, thank you for including it.

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    5 years ago from Northern, California

    @Happyboomernurse~ So nice to find you in the comments. I can't tell you how many times I have been asked, "when is Hanukkah this year?" along with, "What is Hannukkah?" To which I became motivated to put together something quick and easy to understand regarding both. Having a ten year calendar of the dates hopefully will help keep everyone in the 8-day loop. ;) I sure appreciate you making it by!


    @Mhatter99~ With that fantastic idea in mind, every Jewish woman just started making a grocery list for the holiday feast. ;) Thanks for commenting, sir.


    @Nell Rose! A real joy to see you shared your thoughts on the hub with me. Really glad you were able to learn a little something about the festival of lights and the dreidel, by reading it. Thank you for making this part of your day, ma'am.

    Super Big HubHugs~

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 

    5 years ago from England

    Hi K9, I really enjoyed reading this, I learned something new about the dreidel, and that's something I had never heard about, fascinating stuff, and voted up! nell

  • Mhatter99 profile image

    Martin Kloess 

    5 years ago from San Francisco

    Thank you for sharing. I would suggest the inexperienced to find a Jewish family to adopt them for a time. :-)

  • Happyboomernurse profile image

    Gail Sobotkin 

    5 years ago from South Carolina

    Well written primer about Hannukah traditions and the history and meaning behind the Festival of Lights.

    I particularly liked the fact that you included the 10 years of Hanukkah dates.

    Voted up across the board except for funny.

    Hub Hugs,


  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    5 years ago from Northern, California

    Daisy Mariposa~ Thanks! That is exactly what I was going for. I appreciate your support.

    HubHugs, my friend~

  • Daisy Mariposa profile image

    Daisy Mariposa 

    5 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)


    What a great article! You covered all the key points in a very easy-to-understand manner.


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