Hanukkah: festival of lights


Javen Oswald

Throughout Hanukkah, candles on a Menorah are lit to represent the eight days that oil burnt.

Javen Oswald, Correspondent

The Jewish holiday Hanukkah begins on Nov. 28 and lasts until the evening of Dec. 6. It commemorates the miracle of the only jug of oil used to make fire remaining lasting for eight days instead of one.

Hanukkah, often referred to as “the festival of lights,” is a holiday recognized by Jews during November or December. It has a seemingly endless amount of spellings having 24 spellings in the Oxford Dictionary such as Hanuka, Chanukkah, and Chanukah. Much like other holidays, everyone celebrates uniquely. People usually do this in their homes or go to their synagogue and observe the holiday with their congregation. 

Senior Maddie Kagan explains that the date of Hanukkah changes every year. It starts on the 25th day of Kislev. Hanukkah follows the Hebrew calendar, which is why the date of the holiday fluctuates in the Gregorian calendar.

Hanukkah remembers the story of the Maccabees, a group of Jews, who stood up against their Greek ruler. The ruler took over the Jewish temple and forced the Jews to worship Greek gods. The Maccabees took back the temple but only one jug of untainted oil remained to light the menorah, which is similar to a lamp with eight candleholders to commemorate the miracle.

“Oil meant for one candle lasted for eight days. So that’s why Hanukkah is eight days,” Kagan said.

Everybody celebrates Hanukkah in a way that best suits them. One way that people celebrate is by playing a game called dreidel during the eight days of Hanukkah. 

“It’s a spinning top game that’s played with either money or gelt, which is like chocolate candy,” Kagan said.

Senior Leora Gadd celebrates Hanukkah with her family and friends. She eats oily foods to remember the small amount of oil that lasted eight days. She also lights the menorah, adding one candle each night.

“We light candles every night for the eight days. We eat oily foods like donuts and latkes (potato pancakes),” Gadd said.

For many Jews, Hanukkah is not the most important holiday to the Jewish religion. Yom Kippur, also known as the day of atonement, is more often considered the holiest of Jewish holidays. 

Among many Jewish students, Hanukkah is believed to be overshadowed by Christmas. There is a false consensus among many that Hanukkah is the Jewish Christmas.

“It’s not our most important holiday,” Gadd said. “And, it is not the same as Christmas.”