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All about Chanukah

Last updated: 2003-12-16

Menorah lights

Menorah lights

Chanukah (Festival of Lights)

This is an eight-day festival, which takes place in December.

The story of Chanukah hails back to a period in history when, Jews were forbidden to follow their faith and many were forcibly converted by the Greeks or killed for not converting.

Eventually a band of Jews called the Maccabees gathered an army and revolted against the Greeks and won the battle, although their temple and way of life was all but destroyed. This band of men sought to clean up the temple and restore the faith, but in order to light the temple the special seven-branch candleabra (Menorah) was needed, and only enough oil could be found to keep it alight for one day. However, a miracle occurred and the Menorah continued to remain alight for seven days on only one day's supply of oil until new oil could be made to keep the light going.

Traditions of Chanukah include lighting candles on a Menorah every night for eight nights in the home, eating food cooked in oil (doughnuts, potato pancakes etc.), giving presents, holding parties and celebrations, and playing games with a dreidel, a traditional spinning top.