Happy Hannukah!

Hannukah is an eight day Jewish festival celebrating the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid army, enabling the Jewish people to resist the challenges to their traditional beliefs and way of life. In 2013, Hannukah takes place from 27th November – 5th December, beginning on the 25th day of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar. The significance of the eight days stems from a miracle which allegedly took place around this time, whereby a single day’s worth of olive oil provided enough fuel for the menorah in the Temple in Jerusalem to remain lit for eight days.

The hanukiah is the Hannukah menorah which is lit each night of Hannukah to celebrate the festival. There are nine candles, with one candle held higher than the other eight. Each night, the higher candle is used to light one on the first night, then two on the second night and so on, starting from the rightmost candle.

Hymns, prayer services and blessings are added to the schedule in the Jewish community during Hannukah, and blessings may be spoken before meals. In addition to this, there has been a lot of music written specifically for Hannukah. There is a strong focus on family activities throughout the Hannukah period, and Jewish families may gather to eat foods which have been cooked in olive oil to signify the miracle of the menorah in the Temple. Jam-filled doughnuts, fritters and latkes are just some of the foods eaten, and cheese is another food which features heavily throughout the festival.

Find out more about world festivals on the world events calendar>>