Hanukkah Date in the current year: December 25, 2016

Hanukkah Hanukkah is a Jewish eight-day festival of lights that starts on the 25th day of the month Kislev. It commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabean Revolt that followed Judah Maccabee's victory over the Seleucids.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the king of the Seleucid Empire, forbade Jewish religious practice and tried to make Jews worship the Greek gods. This prohibition lead to the Jewish revolt against the Seleukids. It was lead by Mattathias the Hasmonean, a Jewish priest. After Mattathias' death, his third son Judah Maccabee took over as a leader, liberated the Holy Temple and re-dedicated it.

When the Temple was cleansed, Jews lit the menorah, which was required to burn every night. They found enough kosher oil to burn for one day, and it would take them eight days to prepare a fresh supply of oil. A miracle happened: the oil burnt for eight days instead of only one. Jewish sages declared the festival of Hanukkah to commemorate this miracle.

Hanukkah rituals include kindling the Hanukkah lights using a special Hanukkah menorah (a Chanukiah). The number of lights is increased by one each holiday night. As Hanukkah is not mentioned in Torah, its customs tend to be more informal. People eat foods prepared on oil, play a game of sevivon (called a dreidel in Yuiddish). Children are given Hanukkah gelt – money and/or chocolate coins.

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Hanukkah, holiday of lights, Jewish holiday, religious holiday, the Holy Temple