Q:

Why do Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah?

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Quick Answer

"This holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E.," reports About.com. Although Hanukkah does not have the religious importance of the Jewish High Holidays, it has gained popularity in modern times due to its proximity to Christmas, and it is celebrated with more festivity than was historically traditional.

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Why do Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah?
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In 165 B.C., on the 25th day of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar, the Jewish rebel forces known as the Maccabees successfully reclaimed the Temple in Jerusalem from the Greek forces that had occupied it since 168 B.C. The Temple had been defiled by the worship of pagan gods like Zeus, and by practices such as the sacrificing of pigs upon the altar. Besides being non-kosher, pigs have a uniquely infamous significance under Jewish law, according to Chabad.org, and the Maccabees were intent upon the purification of the Temple.

To accomplish the purification, the Maccabees wanted to burn ritual oil on the Temple's menorah for eight days, but they were only able to find enough oil in the Temple to keep the menorah lit for one day. Miraculously, the menorah remained lit for the entire eight days, and the Jews have celebrated the successful rededication of the Temple ever since.

Hanukkah is the Jewish word for "dedication," and the Jews celebrate this holiday for the entire period of the first dedication. They light the first candle on the first day the menorah was lit, Kislev 25, and continue lighting one additional candle every day until the eighth day. Traditionally, the holiday is also celebrated with spinning the dreidel and eating fried foods like latkes. In modern times, it is also traditional for Jewish parents to give their children small gifts on each of the days of Hanukkah.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How long is Hanukkah?

    A:

    Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday celebrating the rededication of the Holy Temple 21 centuries ago, lasts for eight days. The dates on which Hanukkah is celebrated are determined by the Hebrew calendar. It begins on the 25th day of Kislev and ends on the second or third day of Tevet.

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  • Q:

    When does Hanukkah start?

    A:

    Hanukkah in 2014 begins Dec. 16th and ends Dec. 24th. Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the rebuilding of the holy temple, called the Second Temple.

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  • Q:

    What is the difference between Hanukkah and Christmas?

    A:

    There are many differences between Christmas and Hanukkah, as Christmas is a major Christian holiday while Hanukkah was originally a minor Jewish festival. Traditionally, Christmas marks the birth of the Christian savior, Jesus Christ, while Hanukkah celebrates the successful rebellion of the Maccabees against their oppressors and the retaking of Jerusalem.

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  • Q:

    Who celebrates Hanukkah?

    A:

    Hanukkah is a religious holiday celebrated by Jewish people. This holiday is observed for eight days and nights and is also known as the Festival of Lights or the Feast of Dedication. Hanukkah typically falls between late November and late December on the secular calendar.

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