Facts about Hanukkah

Hanukkah is celebrated around the world for eight days and nights.

Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees or Israelites over the Greek-Syrian ruler, Antiochus about 2200 years ago.

A Menorah is a special nine-branched candelabrum, also known in Hebrew as a Hanukiah.

Each night of Hanukkah, an additional candle is placed in the Menorah from right to left, and then lit from left to right. On the last night, all the candles are lit.

A dreidel, or sivion is a four-sided top that has a Hebrew letter on each side.

During Hanukkah, families eat latkes(potato pancakes) and sufganiot (jelly donuts), or other foods which are fried in oil, to celebrate and commemorate the miracle of the Festival of Lights.

In Yemen, children went from house to house, tins in hand, to collect wicks for the Hanukkah Menorah.

In Germany, the eighth and last night of Hanukkah used to be very special. All the leftover wicks and oil were lit in giant bonfires. People sang songs and danced around the fire, often until the small hours of the night.

Traditionally, Hanukkah is a time when children are encouraged and rewarded for their Torah studies. Consequently, it became fashionable to give the children Hanukkah money and presents during the holiday.

During the eight days of Hanukkah, the entire Hallel (psalms of praise) is said.

Except in times of religious persecution, the menorah was placed outside the front door or, as is the custom today, displayed in the window of every Jewish home.

During the eight days of Hanukkah, the passage “Al Hanissim”, expressing thanks to God for the miracles of Hanukkah, is inserted into the prayers.

Savings bonds, checks, and small chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil-these are the modern incarnations of the traditional gift known as Hanukkah gelt. “Gelt” is a Yiddish term for “money”.

Hanukkah is celebrated in the home beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev.

In ancient times, oil was used in the menorah. Over time, candles were substituted for the oil.