Hanukkah means “dedication” in Hebrew. Hanukkah is a Jewish festival that commemorates the recovery of Jerusalem and a rededication of the Second Temple at the beginning of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire in the 2nd Century BCE.
Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish festival. The celebration is eight days because during the re-dedication of the Temple, there was only enough oil to burn the candles for one day. However, the candles burned for eight consecutive nights, giving the Jews time to find more oil. The eight days of Hanukkah commemorate this miracle.
This year, Hanukkah is celebrated December 7th through December 15, 2023. The festival is observed by lighting the candles of a candelabrum with nine branches, commonly known as a menorah. One branch is placed above the others and is the candle used to light the other candles. Each night one branch is lit until all eight are lit together on the final night. Prayers are typically said as the menorah is lit. After the menorah is lit, traditional Hanukkah songs are sung followed by dancing and exchanging gifts. Other festivities include playing dreidel and eating oil-based foods, such as latkes and sufganiyot.