Recent & Upcoming Hanukkah Dates
Celebrations do not begin until sunset on the specified beginning
date and end at nightfall on the ending date.
2023: December 7th – December 15th
2024: December 25th – January 2nd
2025: December 14th – December 22nd
2026: December 4th - December 12th
2027: December 24th - January 1st
At the conclusion of the Maccabean Revolt in 164 BC, Jerusalem was reclaimed by a Jewish rebellion led by the Maccabees from under the oppression of the Seleucid Empire.
After cleaning out the Holy Temple of anything not pleasing to G-d, they rededicated the temple and lit the temple’s Menorah with the last jar of purified oil that had been sealed by a Rabbi. This jar of oil would typically have been enough to last for one day. However, the oil lasted for eight days which was enough to properly purify more oil up to the standards of the temple.
Therefore, Hanukkah is a celebration of the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem with an emphasis on family, miracles, and G-d’s provision.
Matityahu the Priest – A Jewish priest who helped establish the Maccabean rebellion along with his five sons.
Judah the Maccabee – A son of Matityahu who led the Maccabean revolt after it was passed on to him by his father.
Eleazar the Maccabee – Died in battle during the Maccabean revolt.
Simon the Maccabee - Led the rebellion along with his brother, Jonathan, after the death of Judah. Became high priest of Judaea.
Johanan the Maccabee – Oldest son of Matityahu who died in battle during the Maccabean revolt.
Jonathan the Maccabee – Led the rebellion along with his
brother, Simon, after the death of Judah.
Judith – Acclaimed for her heroism in the assassination of Holofernes, an Assyrian general.
Hannah and her seven sons – Arrested and killed one by one, by Antiochus IV Epiphanes for refusing to bow to an idol.
Lighting of the Hanukkiah – A special menorah with nine branches is lit on each night of Hanukkah. Eight of the branches symbolize the eight nights of Hanukkah. On each night, one more candle is lit than the previous night, until on the final night all eight branches are ignited.
The ninth branch is symbolic of the shamash ("helper"). This candle is lit first each night and is used to light the other eight.
Families and friends often sing songs and recite blessings
as the hanukkiah is lit.
It is customary not to work during the time that the candles are lit. However, some choose not to work for the first half-hour after lighting.
The tradition of lighting the hanukkiah each night serves as a reminder of the miracle that occurred throughout the eight days of the
rededication of the temple.
Hanukkah Game – The game is often played with a dreidel, a
four-sided spinner that contains letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The letters are nun, gimmel, hey, and shin, an acronym for “nes gadol hayah sham,” which means “a great miracle happened there.” Each player puts one piece of “gelt”
(usually candy or money) into the pot, or takes pieces from the pot, depending on their spin of the dreidel. When the dreidel stops spinning, the letter facing up signifies what the player must do. Shin = add one piece to the pot, hey = take half the pot, gimel = take the pot, nun = do nothing.
Charity – Giving to charity is encouraged for children and
adults to remind them that they can be a part of G-d’s provision for someone
Latkes – A potato pancake usually made with onion, fried with oil, and served with a dollop of applesauce.
Sufganiyot – A jelly doughnut topped with powdered sugar.
Brisket – Hanukkah food frequently has brisket as the main dish due to the practicality of Kosher recipes, affordable prices, and delicious taste.
Kugel – A traditional, sweet dish made of egg noodles, sugar, cinnamon, nuts, and fruits.
Cheese – Many Jews will eat cheesy foods such as cheese danishes and blintzes in honor of Judith’. According to the story, she tricked Holofernes into eating cheese and drinking wine and then killed him while he was intoxicated to save the people of Bethulia.
A Hanukkah Blessing
Blessed are You, Adonai our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.