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Hanukkah menorah on the eighth night of the festival.

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights or Festival of Dedication, is an eight day Jewish holiday that starts on the 25th day of Kislev, which generally is in December,or sometimes, late November. The festival is observed in Jewish homes by the kindling of lights on each of the festival's eight nights, one on the first night, two on the second night and so on.

In Hebrew script, the word Hanukkah is written חנכה, Template:IPA, or חנוכה, Template:IPA. It is most commonly transliterated to English as Hanukkah or Chanukah. Other variations are discussed below.

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Festival of: Judaism and Jews
Name: Hebrew: חֲנֻכָּה or חנוכה
Translation: "Renewal/Rededication" (of the Beit Hamikdash, the Temple in Jerusalem)
Begins: 25th day of Kislev
Ends: 2nd/3rd day of Tevet
Occasion:One of two Rabbinical Festivals (the other is Purim.) The Maccabees' successful rebellion against Antiochus IV. The purification of the Temple.</br> The miracle of the eternal flame burning for eight days with only enough oil for one day.</br>
Symbols:(See Hanukkah rituals): Lighting a candle each night of in a special Hanukkah Menorah (a Chanukiah) near a window for eight nights. Playing the dreidel (sevivon) game, eating foods fried in olive oil, such as latkes and doughnuts - especially jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot).
Related to: Purim (as a rabbinically decreed holiday.)



The word Hanukkah means "dedication." Spiritually, Hanukkah commemorates the Miracle of the Oil. At the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem following the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days - which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate new oil.

Historically, Hanukkah commemorates two events:

The spiritual side of Judaism shies away from commemorating military victories, the Hasmoneans later became corrupt, and civil war between Jews is considered deplorable, so Hanukkah does not formally commemorate either of these historical events. Instead, the festival commemorates the Miracle of the Oil and the positive spiritual aspects about the Temple's re-dedication. In doing so, the oil becomes metaphor for the miraculous survival of the Jewish people through millenia of trials and tribulations.

Historical sources

In the Talmud

The miracle of Hanukkah is described in the Talmud. The Gemara, in tractate Shabbat 21b [1], says that after the occupiers had been driven from the Temple, the Maccabees discovered that almost all of the ritual olive oil had been profaned. They found only a single container that was still sealed by the High Priest, with enough oil to keep the Menorah in the Temple lit for a single day. They used this, and miraculously, that oil burned for eight days (the time it took to have new oil pressed and made ready).

The Talmud presents three customs:

  1. Lighting one light each night per household,
  2. One light each night for each member of the household, or,
  3. The most pious method, where the number of candles changed each night.

There was a dispute over how the last option was to be performed: either display eight lamps on the first night of the festival, and reduce the number on each successive night; or begin with one lamp the first night, increasing the number till the eighth night. The followers of Shammai favored the former custom; the followers of Hillel advocated the latter. As is the case in most such disputes, Jews today follow Hillel. Except in times of danger, the lights were to be placed outside one's door or in the window closest to the street.

Josephus believed that the lights were symbolic of the liberty obtained by the Jews on the day that Hanukkah commemorates. Rashi, in a note to Shabbat 21b, says their purpose is to publicize the miracle.

In the Septuagint

The story of Hanukkah is preserved in the books of 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees. A story similar in character, and obviously older in date, is the one alluded to in 2 Maccabees 1:18 et seq., according to which the relighting of the altar-fire by Nehemiah was due to a miracle which occurred on the twenty-fifth of Kislev, and which appears to be given as the reason for the selection of the same date for the rededication of the altar by Judah Maccabeus.

The books of the Maccabees (Sefer HaMakabim) are not part of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), but are part of deuterocanonical historical and religious material preserved in the Septuagint. The Tanakh ends with the consequences following the events of Purim, and had already been codified many centuries earlier by the Men of the Great Assembly (Anshei Knesset HaGedolah).

Another source is the Megillat Antiokhos — a text ascribed to the Maccabees themselves by Saadia Gaon, but according to some scholars, perhaps written around the first or second century CE. Indeed, Saadia Gaon's theory is highly unlikeley, as Megillat Antiokhos gives the timeframe for the story in relation to the destruction of the second Temple, which occured over 200 years later, and could not possibly have been known to the Maccabees.

The story

Main article: Hasmonean

Around 200 BCE Jews lived as an autonomous people in the land of Israel, also referred to as Judea, which at that time was controlled by the Seleucid king of Syria. The Jewish people paid taxes to Syria and accepted its legal authority, and by and large were free to follow their own faith, maintain their own jobs, and engage in trade.

By 175 BCE Antiochus IV Epiphanes ascended to the Seleucid throne. At first little changed, but under his reign Jews were gradually forced to violate the precepts of their faith. Jews rebelled at having to do this. Under the reign of Antiochus IV, the Temple in Jerusalem was looted, Jews were massacred, and Judaism was effectively outlawed.

In 167 BCE Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. Mattathias, a Jewish priest, and his five sons John, Simon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah led a rebellion against Antiochus. Judah became known as Judah Maccabee ("Judah the Hammer"). By 166 BCE Mattathias had died, and Judah took his place as leader. By 165 BCE the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy was successful. The Temple was liberated and rededicated.

The festival of Hanukkah was instituted by Judah Maccabee and his brothers to celebrate this event. (1 Macc. iv. 59). After having recovered Jerusalem and the Temple, Judah ordered the Temple to be cleansed, a new altar to be built in place of the polluted one and new holy vessels to be made. According to the Talmud, oil was needed for the menorah in the Temple, which was supposed to burn throughout the night every night. But there was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet miraculously, it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah. An eight day festival was declared to commemorate this miracle.

Hanukkah lamp unearthed near Jerusalem, c. 1900.

Other versions of the story state that an eight day celebration of songs and sacrifices was proclaimed upon rededication of the altar, but do not mention the miracle of the oil. (1 Macc. iv. 36). A number of historians believe that the reason for the eight day celebration was that the first Hanukkah was in effect a belated celebration of the festival of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles (Macc. x. 6 and i. 9). During the war the Jews were not able to celebrate Sukkot properly. The theory is based on the belief that Sukkot also lasts for eight days, and was a holiday in which the lighting of lamps played a prominent part during the Second Temple period (Suk.v. 2-4). However, Sukkot is in fact a seven-day holiday, the eighth day being a separate festival known as Shemini Atzeret ("the Eighth Day of the Assembly"); see Lev. 23:33-36, Num. 29:12; Deut. 16:13-15). The historian Josephus ([2] Jewish Antiquities xii. 7, § 7, #323) mentions the eight-day festival and its customs, but does not tell us the origin of the eight day lighting custom. Given that his audience was Hellenized Romans, his silence on the origin of the eight-day custom is more likely due to its miraculous nature than to it being inspired by Sukkot. In any event, he does report that lights were kindled in the household and the popular name of the festival was, therefore the "Festival of Lights" ("And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it Lights").

It has been noted that Jewish festivals are connected to the harvesting of the Biblical seven fruits which Israel was famed for. Pesach is a celebration of the barley harvest, Shavuot of the wheat, Sukkot of the figs, dates, pomegranates and grapes, and Hanukkah of the olives. The olive harvest is in November and olive oil would be ready in time for Hanukkah in December.

It has also been noted that the number eight has special significance in Jewish theology, as representing transcendence and the Jewish People's special role in human history. Seven is the number of days of creation, that is, of completion of the material cosmos. Eight, being one step beyond seven, represents the Infinite (as an eight turned on its side). Hence, the Eighth Day of the Assembly festival, mentioned above, is according to Jewish Law a festival for Jews only (unlike Sukkoth, when all peoples were welcome in Jerusalem). Similarly, the rite of circumcision, which brings a Jewish male into God's Covenant, is performed on the eighth day. Hence, Hanukkah's eight days (in celebration of monotheistic morality's victory over Hellenistic humanism, have great symbolic importance for practicing Jews.

Hanukkah rituals

Various menorot used for Hanukkah, also called Hanukiot (sing. Hanukiah).

Hanukkah has relatively simple religious rituals that are performed during the eight nights and days of the holiday. Some aspects are practiced at home by the family, other aspects are communal. There are additions to the regular daily prayer services in the Siddur, the Jewish prayer book. Jewish law does not require one to refrain from activities on Hanukkah that would fit the Jewish definition of "work." So, children do not get out of going to school to celebrate the holiday, and parents do not get a week's vacation from employment, either.

Kindling the Hanukkah Lights

The primary ritual, according to Jewish law and custom, is to light a single light each night for eight nights. As a universally-practiced "beautification" of the mitzvah, an additional candle is added each night, for a total of thirty-six over the course of eight nights.

The lights can be candles or oil lamps. Electric lights are sometimes used and are acceptable in places where open flame is not permitted, such as a hospital room. When a formal candelabra or menorah is used, it is the special secular menorah used for Hanukkah - which holds eight candles, plus the servant candle. (A religious menorah holds only seven candles, plus the servant candle). Ashenazic Jews (central and east European Jews) usually call the eight-candled version a "Hanukkah menorah." Some Sephardic Jews (west European, Mediterranean and Latin American Jews) just call it "a hanukkah". In the State of Israel, the secular menorah used for Hanukkah is usually called a "hanukiah".

An extra light is lit each night and placed near the Hanukah lights. The purpose of this is to adhere to the prohibition of using the Hanukkah lights for anything other than publicizing - and meditating on - the Hanukkah story (in contrast to Sabbath candles which are meant to be used for illumination). Hence, if one were to need extra illumination, the extra "servant" candle would be available and one would avoid using the prohibited lights, as derived from the Talmud (Tracate Shabbat 21b-23a). Some use the "guard" candle to light the others.

The reason for the lights is not for the "lighting of the house within", but rather for the "illumination of the house without", so that passers-by should see it and be reminded of the holiday's miracle. Accordingly lamps are set up at a prominent window or near the door leading to the street. It is customary amongst some Ashkenazim to have a separate menorah for each family member (customs vary), whereas most Sephardim light one hanukkah for the whole household. Only when there was danger of anti-semitic persecution were lamps supposed to be hidden from public view, as was the case in Persia under the rule of the fire-worshipers, or in parts of Europe before and during World War II.

When to light the lights

Hanukkah lights should burn for at least one half hour after it gets dark. The standard candles sold for Hanukkah burn for half an hour, so on most days this requirement can be met by lighting the candles when it is dark out. Friday night presents a problem, however. Candles must be lit before the start of Shabbat and inexpensive Hanukkah candles do not burn long enough to meet the requirement. A simple solution is to use "tea lights" or Shabbat candles, arranging them in a straight line and setting the shammus candle apart and above the rest.

Blessings over the candles

File:Hanukkah menorah stamp 1999.jpg
US stamp honoring Hanukkah and showing a Menorah with colored candles

Typically three blessings (Berakhot singular Berakhah) are recited during this eight-day festival. On the first night of Hanukkah, Jews recite all three blessings, on all subsequent nights, they recite only the first two. The blessings are said before or after the candles are lit depending on tradition. On the first night of Hanukkah one light (candle, lamp, or electric) is lit on the right side of the Menorah, on the following night a second light is placed to the left of the first and is lit first proceeding from left to right, and so on each night.

The first blessing

Recited all eight nights just prior to lighting the candles:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik neir (shel) chanukah.

Translation: "Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah lights."

The second blessing

Recited all eight nights just prior to lighting the candles:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, she-asah nisim la-avoteinu, bayamim haheim, (u)baz'man hazeh.

Translation: "Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors, in those days, at this season."

The third blessing

Recited only on the first night just prior to lighting the candles:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, shehecheyanu, v'kiyemanu, vehigi-anu laz'man hazeh.

Translation: "Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us in life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season."

After kindling the lights

When the lights are kindled the Hanerot Halalu prayer is subsequently recited:

(Ashkenazic version):

Hanneirot hallalu anachnu madlikin 'al hannissim ve'al hanniflaot 'al hatteshu'ot ve'al hammilchamot she'asita laavoteinu bayyamim haheim, (u)bazzeman hazeh 'al yedei kohanekha hakkedoshim. Vekhol-shemonat yemei Hanukkah hanneirot hallalu kodesh heim, ve-ein lanu reshut lehishtammesh baheim ella lir'otam bilvad kedei lehodot ul'halleil leshimcha haggadol 'al nissekha ve'al nifleotekha ve'al yeshu'otekha.

Translation: "We light these lights For the miracles and the wonders, for the redemption and the battles that you made for our forefathers, in those days at this season, through your holy priests. During all eight days of Hanukkah these lights are sacred, and we are not permitted to make them serve except for to look at them in order to express thanks and praise to Your great Name for your miracles, Your wonders and Your salvations."

Singing of Maoz Tzur after lighting

Each night immediately after the lighting of the candles, while remaining within eyeshot of the candles, Ashkenazim (and, in recent decades, some Sephardim and Mizrahim in Western countries, then usually sing the following hymn written in Medieval Ashkenaz (Germany). It lists a number of events of persecution in Jewish history, and praises God for survival despite these tragedies.

Ma-oz Tzur Yeshu-ati, lecha na-eh leshabei-ach. Tikon beit tefilati vesham todah nezabei-ach. Le-et tachin matbe-ach mitzar hamnabei-ach. Az egmor beshir mizmor chanukat hamizbei-ach.
Ra-ot sav'ah nafshi, b'yagon kochi kilah. Chayai meir'ru b'koshi, b'shibe-ud malchut eglah. Uv'yado hag'dolah hotzi et has'gulah. Cheil Par'oh vechol zaroh yardu ke-even bim'tzulah.
D'vir kodsho hevi-ani vegam sham lo shakateti. Uva noges v'higlani ki zarim avad'ti. V'yein ra-al masachti kimat she-avarti. Keitz Bavel Zerubavel l'keitz shivim noshati.
Kerot komat b'rosh bikesh Agagi ben Hamdatah. V'nih'yata lo lefach ul'mokesh vegavato nishbata. Rosh y'mini niseita ve-oyev shemo machita. Rov banav v'kinyanav al ha-etz talita.
Y'vanim nikbetzu alai azai bimei Chashmanim. Ufartzu chomot migdalai vetimu kol hashmanim. Uminotar kankanim na-aseh nes lashoshanim. B'nei vinah yemei sh'monah kavu shir urna-anim.
Chasof z'roa kodshecha v'karev keitz hayeshu-a. Nekom nikmat dam avadecha me-uma haresha-a. Ki archa lanu hasha-a ve-ein keitz limei hara-ah. Dechei admon b'tzeil tzalmon hakeim lanu ro'im shiv'ah.

Many Reform Jews, and others, sing only the first verse, repeating the lines to form the Hanukkah melody. It is also common to sing just the first and fifth verses, the fifth dealing specifically with Hanukkah.

Additions to the daily prayers

An addition is made to the "hoda'ah" (thanksgiving) benediction in the Amidah, called Al ha-Nissim ("On/about the Miracles"). This addition refers to the victory achieved over the Syrians by the Hasmonean Mattathias and his sons. (The erroneous designation of Mattathias as son of Johanan the high priest seems to rest upon the late Hebrew apocryphal "Megillat Antiokhos" or "Megillat Hanukkah," which has other names and dates strangely mixed.) The liturgical part inserted reads as follows:


Al hanisim v'al hapurkan v'al hag'vurot v'al hat'shuot, v'al hamilchamot she-asita la-avoteinu bayamim haheim bazman hazeh. Bimei Matityahu ben Yochanan kohein gadol chashmonai u-vanav, k'she-amda malchut yavan har'sha-a al amcha Yisrael l'hashkicham toratecha ul'ha-aviram meichukei r'tzonecha. V'ata b'rachamecha harabim amadta lahem b'eit tzaratam, ravta et rivam, danta et dinam, nakamta et nikmatam, masarta giborim b'yad chalashim v'rabim b'yad chalashim v'rabim b'yad m'atim, ut'mei-im b'yad t'horim, ursha-im b'yad tzadikim v'zeidim b'yad os'kei toratecha. Ul-cha asita t'shu-a g'dola ufurkan k'hayom hazeh. V'achar kein ba-u vanecha lidvir beitecha ufinu et heichalecha v'tiharu et mikdsashecha v'hidliku neirot b'chatzrot kodsecha v'kav'u sh'monat y'mei Chanuka eilu l'hodot ul'haleil l'shimcha hagadol.


We thank You also for the miraculous deeds and for the redemption and for the mighty deeds and the saving acts wrought by You, as well as for the wars which You waged for our ancestors in ancient days at this season. In the days of the Hasmonean Mattathias, son of Johanan the high priest, and his sons, when the iniquitous Greco-Syrian kingdom rose up against Your people Israel, to make them forget Your Torah and to turn them away from the ordinances of Your will, then You in your abundant mercy rose up for them in the time of their trouble, pled their cause, executed judgment, avenged their wrong, and delivered the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and insolent ones into the hands of those occupied with Your Torah. Both unto Yourself did you make a great and holy name in Thy world, and unto Your people did You achieve a great deliverance and redemption. Whereupon your children entered the sanctuary of Your house, cleansed Your temple, purified Your sanctuary, kindled lights in Your holy courts, and appointed these eight days of Hanukkah in order to give thanks and praises unto Your holy name.

The same prayer is added to the grace after meals. In addition, the Hallel Psalms are sung during each morning service and the Tachanun penitential prayers are omitted. Since Hanukkah lasts eight days it includes at least one, and sometimes two, Sabbaths. The weekly Torah portion for the first Sabbath is almost always Miketz, telling of Joseph's dream and his enslavement in Egypt.

Traditional Hanukkah foods

There is a custom to have Hanukkah parties and to eat foods fried or baked in oil, preferably olive oil, as the original miracle of the Hanukkah menorah involved the discovery of the small flask of oil used by the Jewish High Priest (the Kohen Gadol). Many Ashkenazi families make potato pancakes, known as latkes in Yiddish. Many Sephardim as well as Polish Ashkenazim and Israelis have the custom to eat all kinds of doughnuts (bimuelos or sufganiyot) which are deep-fried in kosher (mainly non animal-fat) oils. In America, some make a point of eating fried chicken and french fries on at least one of the eight nights of Hanukkah.

Hanukkah games: Dreidel and Gelt


US stamp honoring Hanukkah and showing a dreidel.

The dreidel (a four-sided "top") is associated with Hanukkah. It has four sides:

  1. נ (Nun),
  2. ג (Gimel),
  3. ה (Hey),
  4. ש (Shin) - In Israel פ (Pe)

These letters also stand for the words Nes Gadol Haya Sham meaning "a great miracle happened there," or, without the nikkud (vowel marks), נס גדול היה שם. In Israel, the fourth letter is פ-Pe instead of shin, stading for "Po", meaning "here", and the entire phrase is therefore "A great miracle happened here." This is done in recognition that the miracle of Hannukah occurred in the land of Israel.

Before beginning, each player starts with 10 or 15 coins (gelt), and then each player puts one in the pot. The dreidel stops and lands with one of the symbols facing up and the appropriate action is taken, corresponding to one of the following Yiddish words:

  • Nun - nisht - "not" - the next player spins
  • Gimel - gants - "all" - the player takes the entire pot
  • Hey - halb - "half" - the player takes half of the pot, rounding up if there is an odd number
  • Shin - shtel ayn - "put in" - the player puts one or two in the pot

Another version differs in that nun is "nem" - "take", while gimel is "gib" - "give." The game may last until one person has won everything.

Chanukkah Gelt

Chanukkah gelt ("Hanukkah money") is used as part of a game on the festival of Hanukkah. It is a term used for the money used in playing the game of dreidel. Traditionally, gelt came in the form of genuine coins, but most modern games are played using coins made of solid chocolate wrapped in gold-colored foil.

The dreidel game involves placing gelt in a central "pot," spinning a four-sided top, and taking one of four actions (claiming the entire pot, claiming half the pot, doing nothing, or putting additional gelt into the pot) based on which side the top lands on.

Interaction with other traditions

Template:See also

Hanukkah gained increased importance with many Jewish families in the twentieth century, including large numbers of secular Jews who wanted a Jewish alternative to the Christmas celebrations that often overlap with Hanukkah.

In recent years, an amalgam of Christmas and Hanukkah has emerged — dubbed "Chrismukkah" — celebrated by some mixed-faith families, particularly in the United States. A decorated tree has come to be called a "Hanukkah bush".

Alternative spellings based on transliterating Hebrew letters

As mentioned above, there is a frequent confusion over the many alternative spellings of Hanukkah in the English language. The only standard spelling of Hanukkah is the hebrew five letters - Chet(Ch,H,K) Nun Vav Kaf Hey - plus the vowels, which are not written in advanced Hebrew. Thus, the most accurate transliteration to English is 'Ch(a)n(u)k(a)h'. But as 'ch' is pronounced differently in English than it is in the traditional Romanisation of Hebrew (which was based upon analogies to German and Latin spelling), and the 'kaf' consonant is part of a long syllable instead of a short one, "Hanukkah" (technically with a small dot under the first 'H,' to show it is pronounced like broad Latin and German 'ch') emerged as an alternative that is more pronounceable to the Anglophone eye.

spelling variations are due to transliteration of Hebrew Chet Nun Vav Kaf Hey
  • Hanukkah (most common in the United States)
  • Chanukah (common alternative in the United States)
  • Hanukah (less common alternative in the United States)
  • Chanuka (rare spelling; in Hebrew, dropping the final 'h' would change the gender of the word)
  • Chanukkah
  • Hanuka (rare spelling; again, the gender would be masculine instead of feminine, in Hebrew)
  • Channukah
  • Hanukka (rare spelling)
  • Khanike (YIVO standard transliteration from the Yiddish and/or Ashkenazic pronunciation of the Hebrew)
  • Jenok (rare)



  • 198 BCE: Armies of the Seleucid King Antiochus III (Antiochus the Great) oust Ptolemy V from Judea and Samaria.
  • 175 BCE: Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) ascends the Seleucid throne.
  • 168 BCE: Under the reign of Antiochus IV, the Temple is looted, Jews are massacred, and Judaism is outlawed.
  • 167 BCE: Antiochus orders an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. Mattathias, and his five sons John, Simon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah lead a rebellion against Antiochus. Judah becomes known as Judah Maccabe (Judah The Hammer).
  • 166 BCE: Mattathias dies, and Judah takes his place as leader. The Hasmonean Jewish Kingdom begins; It lasts until 63 BCE
  • 165 BCE: The Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy is successful. The Temple is liberated and rededicated (Hanukkah).
  • 142 BCE: Establishment of the Second Jewish Commonwealth. The Seleucids recognize Jewish autonomy. The Seleucid kings have a formal overlordship, which the Hasmoneans acknowledged. This inaugurates a period of great geographical expansion, population growth, and religious, cultural and social development.
  • 139 BCE: The Roman Senate recognizes Jewish autonomy.
  • 130 BCE: Antiochus VII besieges Jerusalem, but withdraws.
  • 131 BCE: Antiochus VII dies. Israel throws off Syrian rule completely
  • 96 BCE: An eight year civil war begins.
  • 83 BCE: Consolidation of the Kingdom in territory east of the Jordan River.
  • 63 BCE: The Hasmonean Jewish Kingdom comes to an end due to rivalry between the brothers Aristobulus II and Hyrcanus II, both of whom appeal to the Roman Republic to intervene and settle the power struggle on their behalf. The Roman general Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great) is dispatched to the area. Twelve thousand Jews are massacred as Romans enter Jerusalem. The Priests of the Temple are struck down at the Altar. Rome annexes Judea.

Battles of the Maccabean revolt

Main article: Maccabees

There were a number of key battles between the Maccabees and the Seleucid Syrian-Greeks:

When Hanukkah occurs


The dates of Hanukkah are determined by the Hebrew Calendar. Hanukkah begins at the 25th day of Kislev and concluding on the 2nd or 3rd day of Tevet (Kislev can have 29 or 30 days). The Jewish day begins at sunset (or 6:00 pm for legal purposes in Israel), whereas the Gregorian Calendar begins the day at midnight. So, the first day of Hanukkah actually begins at sunset of the day immediately before the date noted on Gregorian calendars.

For example, in the Jewish year 5766, 25 Kislev actually begins at sunset (or 6:00 pm) on 25th December and 2nd Tevet will end at sunset (or 6:00 pm) on 2nd January. Since the important Hanukkah festivities happen in the evening, the celebratory part of Hanukkah in 5766 actually runs from 25 December 2005 through 1 January 2006 — nobody will be lighting Hanukkah candles on the evening of 2nd January. Because the longer part of 25th Kislev 5766 corresponds with 26 December 2005, the holiday is listed on Gregorian calendars for 2005-2006 as 26th December2nd January.

Hanukkah's dates in the Gregorian calendar

Hanukkah begins at sundown on the evening before the date shown.

See also


  1. ^  The Gemara, tractate Shabbat 21b. The discussion focuses on Shabbat candles and moves to Hanukkah candles.

External links


Template:JewishHolidaysde:Chanukka es:Jánuca eo:Ĥanuka fr:Hanoucca it:Chanukah he:חנוכה la:Encaenia hu:Hanuka nl:Chanoeka ja:ハヌカー nn:Hanukká pl:Chanuka pt:Chanucá sv:Chanukka yi:חנוכה

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