Chanukah is the Jewish Festival of Lights which is celebrated on the 25th of Kislev every year. As the Jewish calendar is lunar, that means that sometimes Chanukah starts as early as the end of November and at other times it starts as late as the end of December. This year is starts tonight - 8 December. Chanukah celebrates the time in history when the Maccabees led a revolution against the assimilation of the Jews. According to tradition, at the time of the rededication of the temple, there was very little oil left to light the everlasting light above the ark (something that you'll see in all synagogues but now it runs on electricity!). By some miracle, the oil that was found lasted for 8 days instead of 1 and so we celebrate this festival of 8 days.
On the 25th of Kislev are the days of Chanukkah, which are eight... these were appointed a Festival with Hallel [prayers of praise] and thanksgiving. -Shabbat 21b, Babylonian Talmud
This is a lovely festival and really adds a bit of joy and light to this dark time of the year. In our family, we light the candles every night, adding another candle each night so on the last night we will have 8 candles to light plus the servant candle (that does all the lighting). The tradition is to give a small present each night and to have Chanukah gelt (Yiddish for money). We also play the dreidel game and eat fried food (no one said that this is a healthy festival). The traditional fried foods are doughnuts and latkes (fried potato cakes). I'm really looking forward to this tonight.
I've been working on some Chanukah decorations for the mantelpiece. My plan is that they will be finished in time for tonight. I've been making some felt dreidels and some stars of David.
Here are the dreidels. They have a נ on the red ones and a ג on the purple ones. In the game, you spin the dreidel and if it lands on נ you win nothing and if it lands on ג you win all the money in the pot. There is also a ש and a ה on the real dreidel but I couldn't fit everything onto the felt ones. What do you think? I'm planning to make a garland with the dreidels and the stars of David below....
I haven't finished these yet so I have a bit of sewing to do this afternoon in between some marathon marking sessions. I hope I managed to finish them in time.
Here is one our chanukiahs ready to light and our stash of candles (as everyone has their own chanukiah). My dd got them all ready at the beginning of the week. As you can see we have one candle in as it's day one and we also have the relevant candle for the lighting.
Do you have any special traditions in your family? I'd love to hear about them. Have a wonderful day.