Hanukah takes place around Christmas time at the end of December and is celebrated by Jewish families all over the world. It is a time where families get together to celebrate the rededication of the second temple in Jerusalem after it was demolished and ruined by King Antiochus and army in the second Century BCE. King Antiochus made it very difficult, if not impossible for the Jews to practice their religion. Any person who was caught possessing religious merchandise was made a subject of, in front of the rest of the population of Jerusalem.
Antiochus stole from the temple and placed huge idols on the alters which is against the Jewish Religion. In addition, they slaughtered pigs and placed the blood and the bodies all over the temple which also is an offence to the Jewish religion. After this abuse towards the Jews and their temple a Jew named Judah decided to revolt against Antiochus’ army. He formed a tribe known as the Maccabees and they reclaimed the temple and brought Jerusalem back as a religious and divine city.
When cleaning and fixing the temple, the Jews noticed that the ‘Ner Tamid,’everlasting light, was not lit. The Jews searched the temple looking for oil to relight this great symbol of the Jewish religion. However, they could only find enough oil for one day. They lit the oil and the miracle was that the oil burned for eight nights which is the reason why nowadays, Jews celebrate Hanukah for eight nights. Every day of Hanukah, Jews light a Hanukiah which is a type of Candelabra symbolizing the menorah which burned in the temple. There are eight branches on the Hanukiah with one service candle called the ‘Shamas’ which is lit first and is used to light the rest of the Hanukiah. The eight candles represent each of the eight days that the miraculous oil burned. This fun and exciting time is celebrated traditionally by eating oily foods to remember the oil that lasted for eight days instead of one. Children also enjoy the festival by playing a game known as ‘Dreidel’ which is a spinning-top. It is a type of gambling game that is symbolic of when the children who were not allowed to learn Judaism or Hebrew as King Antiochus had made it illegal. They used this dreidel as a tool to learn Hebrew letters and Jewish history.
It is a great time for the Jewish people. It is a celebration of the miracle of the oil but also the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem.