Hanukkah begins at sunset on Tuesday, December 20, 2011, and ends at sunset on Wednesday, December 28, 2011.
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrated for eight days and nights. In Hebrew, the word “Hanukkah” means “dedication.” The name reminds us that this holiday commemorates the rededicating of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.
In the Jewish Temple there was an eternal flame that burned day and night as a symbol of Jewish faith. After many Jews were killed and the the inside of the Temple and the eternal flame was destroyed by the Syrian-Greeks. A small band of Jewish farmers, shepherds and teachers was led in a fight against the kings army by Judah Maccabee.
They had no experience as soldiers, very few weapons, and was ten times smaller than the kings army. But they believed in what they were doing, fighting for there right to practice their religion and this belief gave them strength, courage and hope!
After three years winning battle after battle the Maccabees reached Jerusalem and reconquered it. Saddened by what had happened to their Temple and eternal flame, they fixed the Temple and at last were ready to rededicate the Temple to God.
The problem was they only had enough oil to light the lamp for just one day, but instead the oil burned on for eight days! It was a miracle! With joy the Jews proclaimed " Let us celebrate these days every year so that The story of the Maccabees victory over the Syrian army, and the miracle of the oil will never be forgotten!
We have come to love the story of Hanukkah and learn more about it every year, it is another reminder of the miracles we are given everyday by God.
Want some great Hanukkah activities you can do with your family?
Hanukkah Color Pages
Printable Hanukkah Worksheets
Learn about Traditional Hanukkah foods..
Light the Menorah!
A Menorah is a set of nine candles, eight of the candles represent the eight days the light stayed lit in the Temple. The middle candle is the helper candle and is lit first and used to light the other eight candles from left to right. On the first night the Shamash lights one candle, on the second night, two, on the third night three candles and on until the eighth night when all candles are burning brightly.
The candles are lit from left to right, so that the last candle added is the first lit.
Blessed art Thou, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah lights.
Blessed art Thou, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has wrought miracles for our ancestors At this season in days of old.
Blessed art Thou, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has kept us in life and sustained us And enabled us to reach this season.
All three prayers are said on the first night, but on the other nights only the first two are said.