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Sefardi-Jewish Topics

Chanukah or Festival of Lights

Many Jewish communities in Canada observe the first day of Hanukkah, which marks the start of Hanukkah, also known as Chanukah or Festival of Lights. Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish observance that remembers the Jewish people’s struggle for religious freedom.

What do people do?

Jewish communities in Canada celebrate the first day of Hanukkah on the 25th day of the month of Kislev in the Jewish calendar. Hanukkah 2013 begins on the evening of Wednesday, November 27  and ends on the evening of Thursday, December 5. The Hanukkah period lasts for 8 days and is celebrated from the 25th day of Kislev to the second day of Tevet. The first night of Hanukkah (or Chanukah) starts with special blessings at sunset the day before the 25th of Kislev. Many Jewish people light the hanukiah (or chanukkiyah), which is a type of candelabrum.

Hanukkah is a time for gift-giving so some people give gift baskets to others. Some organizations coordinate events, such as a Hanukkah Party, for children. These events often include singing, drama, and entertaining activities involving the dreidel, which is a toy used for games. Many Jewish Canadians prepare and eat meals fried in olive oil, such as potato cakes, and different fried breads. It is has also been tradition for the Canadian prime minister to join in Jewish Canadians in lighting a candle to celebrate Hanukkah.

Public life

The first day of Hanukkah is not a nationwide public holiday in Canada. Some Jewish schools have their school vacation fall around the same time of Hanukkah.

Background  of this holiday or The History of Hanukkah

The origins of Hanukkah, sometimes known as Chanukah or Chanukkah, lie in an uprising against a successor of Alexander the Great around 2,400 years ago.

The revolt was successful, but the Jewish Temple was destroyed in the battle. When the Jews came to rededicate their Temple, they found there was only enough sanctified oil to light it for one day.

Miraculously, the oil stayed alight for eight days. And this is why Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration that’s also known as the “festival of lights”.

Hanukkah commemorates the Jewish people’s successful rebellion against the Syrians in the Maccabean War in 162 BCE. it’s mentioned in the The Books of the Maccabees  and also in the Christian Bible in John 10:22.  A ritual cleansing and re-dedication of the Temple occurred after the Jewish people’s victory. It is believed that there was only enough consecrated oil to keep the lamp burning for one day but the small bottle of oil miraculously lasted for eight days. Hanukkah, also known as Hanukkah, is referred as the Feast of Lights or Festival of Lights for this reason.

Moreover, the survival of Judaism over the many years is also celebrated during this period. The last day of Hanukkah, which marks the end of Hanukkah, falls on the eighth day of this period.

The Talmud says that after the Temple had been liberated by the Maccabees from Antiochus IV, only a day’s worth of consecrated olive oil was left to to fuel the eternal flame. Miraculously, it remained burning for eight days, which was just enough time to make more of the oil.

Chanukah Symbols

The dreidel is a toy that is popular during the Hanukkah celebrations. It is a spinning top with a different Hebrew letter inscribed in each of its four sides – the four letters form an acronym meaning “a great miracle happened here”. The hanukiah (or chanukkiyah) is a type of candelabrum that holds eight candles to commemorate the eight days that the oil burned and a ninth candle that sits apart, known as the shamash, or servant candle that lights the others. One candle is lit on the first night, another on the second, and so forth until all candles are lit on the last night.

Note: Jewish holidays begin at sundown the day before the date specified for the holiday.

About Anni Orekh

Anni Orekh (which translated from Hebrew means: I m an editor (Publisher) it is the online pen-name of author and Managing Director of MD Enterprises.

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