Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration that people world wide take part in. The eight day festival of light involves food, prayer, dance, donation, oil, giving and remembrance. Many people ask how is Hanukkah celebrated? The answer is pretty much the same if you were to ask any Jewish person. Ways that they celebrate can vary from person to person.
Hanukkah generally starts in December, although it has started in November in the past. It is dependent on what day in Kislev of the Hebrew calendar the 25th day falls on. The typical Jewish household celebrates the holiday with specific foods, mostly deep fried to celebrate the aspect of oil. They also light the Menorah once per night for eight nights. Most Menorah have eight stems holding celebratory candles. There is a ninth stem in some of the older styles that holds what is known as the Shamash. The Shamash is a candle that is lit, and then used to light the candles in the Menorah.
Once lit, the Menorah is placed in a window to light up the world. Families will then begin feasting on latkes, and donuts also known as sufganiyot, various cheese products and excellent Jewish recipes. There will be dancing, and playing, praying and gift giving. While the celebration runs in unison of Christmas at times, the two holidays are very different. Hanukkah is not about giving gifts to everyone in the family, rather a small token of the festival is more suitable.
Many families give their children dreidels as a first Hanukkah present. The dreidel is not only a fun toy, but is very significant with regard to the celebration. Back in the day that the Greeks ruled the land they were against the Jewish belief system and would not allow them to pray. The Greek punished anyone that was caught doing so or preaching the word. Those that refused often masked their pray congregations by playing dreidel games. When the soldiers would try to break in thinking they were catching them in a disapproving act they would be found to be playing a game. Historically and even today the dreidles are painted with bright coloring with a message of faith and symbolic drawings. This is how Hanukkah is celebrated across the world. And millions of people will begin doing so this year on December 20th when the sun goes down.