Dec. 5, 2019
The Jewish holiday Hanukkah, or Chanukah, runs this year from Sunday, 22nd December to Monday, 30th December.
The holiday remembers a period in history over 2000 years ago when a king called Antiochus banned the Jewish people at the time from worshipping God and set his armies up to destroy the holiest of Jewish buildings; the Temple. One core Jewish belief is not to worship idols, but he forced Jews to bow down to his statue, which he placed in the Temple. His armies smashed up Jewish objects in the Temple including the Menorah. The menorah was a seven-branched oil lamp that was permanently lit. Judah Maccabee, the leader of the Jews at this time, and his small army fought a long battle over several years and managed to defeat Antiochus. They re-lit the menorah but only had enough oil left to last for one day. The journey to collect more olives and make more oil would take eight days. However, by a miracle, the oil lasted eight days.
Chanukah is the celebration of this miracle.
If you go to any synagogue nowadays, you will always see this eternal light lit to remember the Temple and the Jewish people’s relationship with God.
The word Chanukah means ‘dedication’ in Hebrew, and the holiday is often called the Festival of Lights. It is celebrated with the lighting of the Chanukkiah. A Chanukkiah is like a Menorah but has 9 branches; eight for the eight days of the miracle and one additional candle, the Shamash (helper), that is used to light the other eight. This symbolizes the candles as being decorative and memorial rather than working candles. On each of the holiday’s eight nights, another candle is lit after the sun has set. On the last night all the candles will be lit. Families will recite blessings and sing songs during this ritual and display the Chanukkiah prominently in their window as a reminder of the miracle that inspired the holiday.
Jewish people also remember the miracle by eating foods cooked in oil such as potato and onion pancakes called latkes and doughnuts. Children also play a game called Dreidel where the Hebrew letters on a spinning top represent the phrase ‘A miracle happened there’. Depending upon the upmost letter, you either win or lose your Chanukah Gelt (chocolate coins). Jewish people also exchange gifts at this time of year.
Here at 2Simple, we are celebrating Chanukah using Purple Mash. We have several resources for you to use in your classrooms to celebrate this holiday. Try out our:
We wish you all a wonderful Chanukah.