Thursday, December 8, 2011
What is Hanukkah?
In the story of Hanukkah, the Jewish Holy Temple had been destroyed by the Syrian people because their king had tried to outlaw the Jewish religion. A group of Jews known as the Maccabees decided to fight back against the king and his army -- and they won! The Jewish people were able to practice their religion freely once again, and took back their Holy Temple!
Inside the Holy Temple was a special light that was always supposed to stay lit. Because the temple had been destroyed, when the Jewish people went to rededicate it, they found there was only enough oil to keep the flame going for one day, and it would take eight days before they could get more! The miracle of Hanukkah is that the tiny bit of oil that should have only lasted for one day actually lasted for eight, until more could arrive!!
To remember this great miracle, Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah every year by lighting candles for eights days in a special candelabra (the menorah or hanukkiah) and by eating special foods like latkes (potato pancakes) which are made with oil! For many people, it has also become a tradition to give presents during Hanukkah, since it is a happy celebration to remember a great miracle.