Hanukkah the Jewish festival of lights is a celebration of the undying Jewish spirit. In the eight days of Hanukkah the Jews light one candle each day after the setting sun to symbolize there is a light at the end of every tunnel and all you have to do if believe. Believe, like the Jews did more than 2000 years ago.
The handful of Jewish believers fought against the big Syrian-Greek army, when their faith was challenged and practicing their religion was declared as an offence punishable to death!!And this gave the world the festival of dedication, yes “dedication” is what Hanukkah means in Hebrew.
Known also by the name of Chaunkah, Hanukkah has been one of the greatest story of Jews, having wars, miracles and victories in itself. Tonight the great fest marked by the traditional food whether fried potato pancakes called latkes or the jam filled donuts will end.
Even when it is a less important festival in the eyes of law which does not grant any word day off or holiday for Hanukkah, it still remains a powerful statement of celebrating dedication. Its proximity to Christmas has made it commercially popular among north American countries.
The last day of Hanukkah is known as Zose Hanukkah, Zos Hanukkah or Zot Hanukkah. It is a particularly special day because it encapsulates all of Hanukkah and mark the end of the |Jewish celebrations. In modern America this day is reserved for concerts and Hanukkah melodies and food fried in oil.
The last day is usually the day when the kids receives their gift for Hanukkah. It is the last night of lighting the candle in menroha. At certain years the eighth day of Hanukkah coincides with Christmas eve. Reminding that joys are joys for ever.
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 wiuth the Syrian-greeks also known as the Maccabean Revolt. Sukkot is one of the Jewish religion’s most important festival that is celebrated with 7 days of dining and prayers. The more modern set of historians believe that there was not just a war for freedomof religion rather a civil war. The jews of Jerusalem were divided into two groups, the one group that followed the prayer to greek gods by fear other by acceptance.
The last day of Hanukkah has tradition of giving gifts. One of the most popular is a Dreidel. A dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side. It is used during Hanukkah to play a popular game that involves spinning the dreidel and betting on which Hebrew letter will be showing when the dreidel stops spinning. Children usually play for a pot of gelt, which are chocolate coins covered in gold colored tin foil, but they can also play for candy, nuts, raisins – anything and everything.
The four sides of Dreidel have four Hebrew alphabet when put together they stand for the Hebrew phrase “Nes Gadol Haya Po.” This means “A great miracle happened here.” There is another important and exciting story that is related to Hanukkah and this time related to driedel. It is believed that dreidels were used by the Jewish solders to pass encoded messages. When the Greek army, or soldiers could pass the followers of Jewish revolt , the jews could pretend it to be a game of dreidel and could easily escape from getting caught.
The last day of Hanukkah celebrates this spirit of freedom and is marked by Hanukkah songs. There are a few melodies like Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah, I Have Little Dreidel, Candles Bright. The melodies of these songs explain why some of the greatest music of America is made by Jews ;).
The most beautiful and amazing ritual however is held by 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. And the amazing belief behind menorah is the fact that the Jews believe that the eight candles in menorah should never be used for anything other than praying, enlighten and meditation and this is why the use the ninth candle in the menorah to lighten all the eight candles and the ninth is called the helper or Shamash.
This festival shows the silent and yet powerful message that the Jews gave to the world, fight for what you believe in , and then thy shall win!
And with this spirit and power of dedication Hanukkah gives us another excuse for celebration every winter each year.