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Hannukah Celebrations: Light the Candles! It's Hanukkah!
Light the Menorah for Hanukkah is Here !
Christians celebrate Christmas by remembering the birth of the Christ-child. Meanwhile, Jews celebrate Hanukkah. This festival is held for eight days straight in recollection of the victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks and the recovery of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem . It also commemorates the miracle of the candle, which burned for eight days in a row with a minimal amount of oil. This miracle gave strength and hope Jewish people right up to the present era.
Maccabees Rebel against Epiphanes
It was during the second century BC, Israel was occupied by the Greeks that the king of Syria Antiochus IV Epiphanes decided to Hellenize the people of Israel, forbidding Jews to continue their traditions and customs, and forcing them to worship Greek gods.
A group of Jews known as the Maccabees , rebelled against the Greek soldiers, refusing to perform acts that went against their religion. It was a war of the "few against many." Finally the Jewish people triumphed over the Syrian-Greeks and reclaimed the Holy Temple Jersualén .
When the Maccabees regained the Temple, they found it totally desecrated, with the Menorah (candelabrum with seven branches), and ritually pure oil available just enough for one day left. It took eight days to get more oil.
But a miracle happened: Instead of lasting one day, the Menorah was lit for eight days. This is the origin of the celebration called Hanukkah, meaning in Hebrew means opening referring to the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem by the Jews. The word Hanukkah connotes dedication as well.
Today, Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah, the festival of lights, and the candlestick is the characteristic symbol of this holiday. During the eight days of the celebration of Hanukkah, a candle is lit at sunset, in a visible place in the house . These candles are designed to serve as witnesses to the miracle. The days of Hanukkah are celebrated as the days of rejoicing and praise. This celebration is a tribute to the miracle of eight days and conveys a message of hope for the entire Jewish people.
Official NameHag HaHanoukka (חג החנוכה "Festival of the Construction")
Other nameFestival of Lights
Observed bythe rabbinic Judaism
MeaningJoyful celebration commemorating the military victory and spiritual Jews of Judea on the Seleucid armies and the Hellenization.
Beginson 25 Kislev
Ends2, or 3 Tevet
Date 2011Sunset, December 20 - Sunset, December 28
ObservancesLighting the menorah , playing with draydels (Sevivon), eating latkes potato) or soufganiyot .
How Hanukkah is Celebrated
The festival of Hanukkah begins on the 25th of the Hebrew month called Kislev and lasts eight days. This date is late December in the Gregorian calendar. In the year 2011 it will be December 21, in 2012, on 9th of December, in 2013, Nov. 28th, in 2014, December 17th 2015, December 7.
Turning on the lights
The main tradition of this holiday is the lighting of, progressively, a nine-branched candelabra called Hanukkiah (one for each day plus a ninth branch). It is customary for a family meeting on the day to exchange gifts.
The middle candle, called the "shamash", is used to light the other candles each night. Thus, the first night of Hanukkah, two candles are lit and last night, there are nine lit candles. Lighting the candles is always done while reciting a series of blessings in the Hebrew language.
Narrative of the miracles that occurred
One of the customs that came with Hanukkah is the story of the events and miracles occurred in the history of the Hebrew ancestors.
Families often do activities such as exchanges of gifts, home decor and preparation of special meals. As a tribute to the ingredient that made a candle burn for eight days running, the oil is used in some fried foods such as latkes (potato pancakes), the Sufganiyots (jelly donuts with powdered sugar or cinnamon) and broccoli pie mushrooms.
Games for young and old
During the celebration of Hanukkah, children receive money (they are encouraged to perform acts of charity), chocolate coins, gifts and play a game called dreidel. The dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with Hebrew letters on each side, which stands for "A great miracle happened here." The largest persons are entertained while playing cards, tricks and puzzles. This may be the single point of contact with the Christian Christmas: This is a celebration awaited especially by the smaller and in concert, brings the whole family together.
A little music
After the candle lighting, some Jews like to sing the hymn Maoz Tzur, written in the German Middle Ages, it evokes certain historical episodes in which the Jews were persecuted, praising God for survival despite these tragedies. It is also customary to sing other songs and psalms. In turn stories and poems are recited over 2,000 years of tradition.
The rules of Hanukkah
There are some traditional rules that must be taken into account to celebrate Hanukkah:
You are not allowed to fast on Hanukkah. It is permissible to fast the day before and the day after Hanukkah.
You are permitted to work at this time. Despite this, many women tend to refrain from doing some household chores during the half hour that the lights should remain lit Hanukkah, demonstrating that it is forbidden to take advantage of its light.
Olive oil is the best choice to light the menorah. And use a silver candlestick or some precious metal. The luminaries of Hanukkiah can not be used for simple, practical lighting. They should be used only to remember the story of Hanukkah and meditate on it. For this reason, the lights of Hanukkah differ from the Shabbat candles.
The Menorah must be located in a visible place in the home. It is recommended that you are near the front door of the home or near a window. The intention is to show forth these candles out of the house, so that anyone can walk down the street and see them and remember the miracle of the holiday.
The candles should be lit at the time when the first stars appear in the sky. This is the time when the day begins, according to Jewish tradition.
On the first night one should say three blessings: Sheas nissim, ner shel Hanukkah lehadlik Vetsivanu and Sehejeianu.
The candles should be lit for at least half an hour.If the woman of the house lights the candle, the other members of the family do not have to. If a blind man would like to participate, you can pay someone to help you. If married, your wife should help.
On Shabbat, the candles must be lit first are those of Hanukkah.
On Saturday, Hanukkah candles must be lit after the Havdalah ceremony. This ceremony is a multi-sensory ritual employing our faculties of speech and hearing, smell and taste to define the boundaries between the sacred and the profane.
Excess oil and wicks of Hanukkah should be burned.
During the festival of Hanukkah attempt to recite the entire Hallel. The Hallel is a series of psalms of praise to Gd that the Sages instituted to read in the holidays accompanied by a blessing before and after reading.
Traditionally look for three men to read from the Torah. The Torah is known as the Law of Moses, and is formed by the first five books of the Old Testament.
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History Of Hanukkah, Learn about hanukkah, the festival of lights This Hanukkah song has been developed by Herb Orenstein. In remembrance, a candle is lit each of the eight days of Hanukkah. Children receive gifts of gelt (in remembrance of the coins minted by the new independent Maccabee state) or money and play games of dreidel (a spinning four-sided top.) The tradition of receiving a gift on each of the eight days of Hanukkah is fairly recent.
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Destinations to enjoy the feast of Hanukkah
If you visit Jerusalem in December, all Israel is celebrating the feast of Hanukkah, and especially Jerusalem. During these days events take place with all the colors and lighting of candles and crowds You can visit the Western Wall, which will always be full of festive Jews who come to pray on this day the Sabbath of Hanukkah. If you walk through Jerusalem in the evening, you will see the streets lit by Hanukkiah found in the windows of the houses.
In cities such as Madrid , Buenos Aires and New York , the Jewish community has noticeable prominence. It is usual in these cities is lit the first candle of Hanukkah in the central squares, accompanying the ceremony of concerts, dances, art shows and an atmosphere of celebration and joy. Also in New York is the largest public menorah in the world. You cannot miss it if you pass by the corner of 59th and Fifth Avenue. It measures over ten feet tall!
If you're walking through Berlin during the month of December, be sure to visit the Jewish Museum Berlin. There Hanukkah is celebrated a month-long in the courtyard of the same name. You can find and taste of spices and Jewish Hanukkah around the world, including Klezmer music you can hear, and taste the delicious latkes with a glass of kosher wine.