December is indeed the month of amazing festivals and celebrations of all kind. Hanukkah or Chaunkah as it is also called at times is a eight day Jewish celebration in the month of winter.
Hanukkah is a celebration of dedication and symbolizes the victory of the Jews against the Greek-Syrian King Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the year of 168 B.C
Around 200 B.C the Jews lived under the Egyptian rule in Judea, or the land of Israel and practiced their faith under the King Antiochus III. For years Jews followed their own religion and faith with dedication and resolute. Then came 168 B.C when, the son of the King Antiochus III, took over and outlawed the Jewish Religion. He ordered the Jews to worship Greek Gods.
The greatest hurt to the Jewish respect came when the king destroyed the holy Second Temple in the city of Jerusalem and re-structured it for the worship of Zeus the Greek god!.They desecrated the temple and sacrificed pigs within its sacred walls. This did hurt the Jews and a revolt broke ou ,led by the Jewish priest Mattathias and his 5 sons.
The war to establish Jewish faith was fought for more than three years. And in the end the undying Jewish spirit won in the leadership of Judah Maccabee the son of Matthathias.
Judah succeeded in driving the Syrians out of Jerusalem and ordered his followers to cleanse the holy Second Temple. It was surprising how the small bunch of Jews fought against the Syrian King’s large army and won the battle. All that the Jews had was the undying Jewish Spirit , the aggressive belief on their faith and a nack of guerilla warfare.
This gave birth to the first Hanukkah and this dedication to keep their faith alive is what is celebrated now every winter. While some historians believe that it might be a result of late celebration of Sukkot, which the Jews had not had the chance to observe during their war with the Syrian-greeks also known as the Maccabean Revolt. Sukkot is one of the Jewish religion’s most important festival that is celebrated bith 7 days of dining and prayers.
The amazing story of Hanukkah does not end here, rather unfolds many more stores of Jewish belief. The most major part of the Hanukkah festival is an opera of nine candles also known as the ‘Menorah’. History suggests that Menorah is lit as a belief of miracle, a miracle that took place during the rededication of the holy Second Temple in the city of Jerusalem back in 168 B.C.
As per the Talmud,the central Judaism text , Judah Maccabee and the other Jews who took part in the rededication of the Second Temple witnessed what is believed to be a miracle. The Second Temple had a torch that was the symbol of the undying Jewish Spirit. It was supposed to be lit by untainted olive oil and was burning for ever without dying.
During the cleansing of the Second temple Judah and his followers found the holy torch broken and left with untainted oil that could support it only for a single day, but somehow the flames continued flickering for eight nights, leaving them time to find a fresh supply. This miraculous supply of fuel is being connected to their faith and dedication. And in order to celebrate the same spirit the Jews world wide light the Menorah even today.
The Menorah has nine candles eight of which are lit one by one each day after sunset for eight days with the help of the centre candle also known as “Shamash”, which means helper in Hebrew. It is because of this nine candle menorah that Hanukkah is also known as a festival of lights.
To signify the miracle of oil the traditional Hanukkah foods are all fried and oily, be it the tasty fried potato pancakes called latkes or the jam filled donuts. So make sure you have your gym sessions in place.
Apart from the tasty food, Hanukkah is also popular among the kids as they receive money and now gifts from their father. The proximity of the date of celebration with Christmas has introduced this exiting custom in Hanukkah in the recent years. This custom originated from the old custom of playing popular Hanukkah game of spinning the dreidel, which is a four-sided top with Hebrew letters written on each side in which children used to win Gelt. Gelt, which are chocolate coins covered with tin foil, are part of this game. With time Gelt changed to money and money to gifts.
On this Year 2015 the first day of hannukah is on 6th Dec and with that will begin an eight day celebration of dedication, lights and the undying and never collapsing Jewish Spirit!! Holy Hanukkah everyone.