Hanukkah 2014 Facts and Traditions
When is Chanukah? Hanukkah starts at sunset on December 16 and lasts until December 24. First candle is lit on December 16 and the last candle on December 23. (See below about candelighting.)
What is Hanukkah? Also called the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication by the Jewish Maccabees of the holy Temple in Jerusalem that was destroyed by the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E. During the rededication, they lit the menorah with the oil that was left. When the oil lasted for 8 nights rather than the one that was presumed, it was considered a miracle and is why we now call Hanukkah the Festival of Lights.
How is Hanukkah celebrated? Hanukkah is not a religious holiday and is considered to be a rather minor one in religious spheres. However, in America, where the bulk of the world’s Jews live, Chanukah has become a significant event with celebratory traditions and gift giving.
Eating Fried Foods: Like all other Jewish holidays, there are important food traditions and for Hanukkah the tradition is to eat foods fried in oil. Potato latkes are the most popular Hanukkah food while donuts (usually jelly), called Sufganiyot in Hebrew, are also popular.
Lighting the Menorah: The menorah is a 9-branched candelabra. There is a branch and holder for each of the eight candles and one for the Shamash—the candle used to light the others. The menorah is also called a Hanukiyah.
Playing Dreidel at Hanukkah Parties: The dreidel is a 4-sided top with Hebrew letters on each side. There is a special dreidel game that is played and the winners eat Hanukkah gelt—foil wrapped chocolate coins. Dreidel is played at Hanukkah parties or at the nightly Menorah-lighting.
Sharing Gifts: Hanukkah is the largest Jewish gift giving holiday of the year. Typically, families have their own traditions of sharing Hanukkah gifts typically either every night for eight nights or just one.
In America, corporate gift giving at holiday time is standard practice. Giving gift baskets and other food gifts to colleagues and clients for Christmas or December holidays is well accepted as is gift giving to Jewish colleagues and clients. For Jewish clients, kosher gift baskets are recommended to ensure that everyone in the office can enjoy it. Challah Connection has an impressive assortment of kosher Hanukkah baskets and Hanukkah food specialties that are appropriate for family, friends and business colleagues.
How to spell Hanukkah? There are several acceptable spellings: Hanukkah, Hanukah, Chanukah, Chanuka