|Music playing is
|O Hanukkah, O Hanukkah, a time to remember,
A jolly, jolly holiday that comes in December.
Every night for eight days dreidel to spin,
Crispy little latkas, tasty and thin.
And nightly, so brightly,
The candles of Hanukkah glow.
Shining with glory, telling the story,
The wonders of long, long ago.
Beginning on the second night, one candle is added every night until the total reaches eight on the last
night. The candles are lighted by a ninth, separate candle called a shamash.
The traditional foods during the Hanukkah holiday are symbolic of the events being celebrated. Most are
fried in oil, symbolic of the oil that lasted eight days. Loukoumades are deep-fried puffs dipped in honey or
sugar to represent the cakes the Maccabees ate. Pancakes are a traditional dish, serving as a reminder of the
food hurriedly prepared for the Maccabees as they went into battle, along with the oil they are fried in as a
reminder of the miraculous oil.
Latkes were originally symbolic of the cheesecakes served by the widow Judith, and later evolved to the
potato/vegetable fried latkes most known today. Many cheese and dairy dishes are consumed in memory of
brave Judith. A newer tradition in the United States is the baking of butter cookies or pretzels in the shape of
Hanukkah symbols while relating the stories.
Hanukkah is the Jewish Feast of Lights or Feast of Dedication. The Hebrew word hanukkah (also written
Hannuka or Chanukah) means dedication. The Hanukkah holiday begins on the eve of the 25th day of the
Hebrew month of Kislev (approximately December) and lasts eight days. The holiday dates for 2012 are
sunset December 8th to nightfall December 16th.
The holiday originated from the three-year struggle of Judah the Maccabbe and his followers to reclaim
the temple in 165 B.C. In 168 B.C. Syrian King Antiochus IV had defiled the temple by having it dedicated to
the worship of the pagan god Zeus Olympius and an altar to Zeus was set up on the high altar.
After Judah and his followers reclaimed the temple, it was cleansed and prepared for re-dedication. When
the sacred temple Menorah (candelabra) was re-lit, there was only enough sacred oil to burn for one day.
Yet, the oil miraculously lasted eight days until more purified oil could be found.
About 250 years after these events, the first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote his account of
the origins of the holiday. Josephus referred to the holiday as the Festival of Lights and not as Hanukkah.
Josephus seems to be connecting the newfound liberty that resulted from the events with the image of light,
and the holiday is still often referred to by the title Josephus gave it.
A lesser known story from the Apocrypha tells of the beautiful widow Judith who plied enemy Assyrian
General Holofernes with cheese and wine until he fell into a drunken stupor. Judith beheaded the general in
his sleep, and his soldiers fled in fear, thus saving her people from the Assyrians.
During Hanukkah, gifts are exchanged and contributions made to the poor. On the first evening, one candle
is lighted in a special eight-branched candelabra called a menorah or hanukkiyah. A blessing is said each
night as the Hanukkah candles are lit.