What Is Hanukkah?


Menorah from Pixabay.com

Sarah G. Barron, Contributor

‘What is Hanukkah?’ You may ask. You may know that it is a Jewish holiday, but what else? Hanukkah is an amazing holiday and celebration if you look into the facts. Let me tell you the history of Hanukkah.

Around 200 B.C Antiochus III, King of Syria, allowed the Jews to live and follow their religion. In the Jewish religion pigs are considered unclean and they do not eat pork. Yet his son, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, outlawed the Jewish religion and directed them to worship Greek Gods. Antiochus IV sent his soldiers into Jerusalem, killing people who lived in the city and destroying the city’s holy Second Temple by slaughtering pigs in the temple. The Second Temple was a holy Jewish temple. The Second Temple stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem until 70 CE.

Judah was one of the five sons of the Jewish priest Matthathis. When Matthathis died Judah took the helm. Within two years Judah and the Jews drove the Syrians out of Jerusalem. Judah had called his followers to cleanse the Second Temple. They lit a menorah, a golden candelabrum that has seven branches, that only had enough oil to keep the candles lit for one day, yet the candles burned for eight days. That was known as the Hanukkah miracle. 

Today Jewish people celebrate those days that the candles burned for eight days hundreds of years ago. A Hanukkah tradition is to light the menorah and put it in the window sill, as a reminder of the miracle. More Hanukkah traditions are to eat traditional Jewish dishes, spinning dreidels, and exchanging gifts. Dreidels are tops that have Hebrew letters on all four sides that have the phrase meaning “ A Great Miracle Happened There.”

Hanukkah is a great Jewish holiday. The history is a great thing to know, whether you are or aren’t Jewish. It’s good to know the history of holidays and worldly traditions.