History Of Hanukkah
Hanukkah is an 8-day Jewish festival celebrated from twenty-fifth day of Kislev (Hebrew calendar). In the Gregorian calendar, it is celebrated from late November to the end of December in order to commemorate the re dedication of the second Jewish Holy Temple at Jerusalem. It is also famously called the “Festival of Lights” because people light candles for eight consecutive nights during this festival.
Jews celebrate by eating special foods fried or baked in olive oil. They believe that the Jewish High Priest managed to get olive oil from a small flask for eight days but the flask was meant to provide oil for a single day. People exchange gifts with their near and dear ones. Children specifically receive “gelt” or money during this festival. Boys generally get silver Hanukia every year as a present.
It is believed that in 167 BCE, Antiochus brought in several rules and orders that were anti-Jewish. He prohibited circumcision and ordered that an altar honoring Zeus be constructed in the Second Temple in Jerusalem. He also forced people to sacrifice pigs in the temple. This highly angered the Jews and Mattathias in particular. He was a Jewish priest and along with his four sons, led the famous uprising against Antiochus. When Mattathias died in 166 BCE, his son Judah took over and liberated the Temple from the Seleucid monarchy.
Thus, the re-dedication to the temple was established and people celebrated this historic moment by lighting candles one each night for eight consecutive nights, symbolizing the small flask which provided olive oil for eight consecutive nights.
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