Hanukkah, the festival of lights, has a number of traditions and customs associated with it. Some have their source in the past, while others have evolved from the earlier trends. For instance, lighting the Hanukkah Menorah is an age-old Hanukkah tradition, associated with the miraculous burning of the Menorah, during the rededication of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. The Jews recite candle lighting blessings during the eight days of Hanukkah. For the purpose, all the members of the family congregate around the Menorah.
Preparing an elaborate meal forms one of the most popular traditions associated with the Hanukkah festival. Jews have some typical foods for the festival, which are necessarily cooked. It is also customary for them to have foods baked or fried in oil, preferably olive oil, during the festival. The special foods for the days include latkes, sufganiyots, loukomades and pretzels. The Jewish people also consume dairy products on the festival, as a symbol of tribute to Judith, who played an integral role in the liberation of Jews.
As a part of their tradition, Jews also play a typical game called dreidel on Chanukah. The dreidel is a 4-sided spinning top, which consists of a distinct Hebrew letter on each side. In America, the letters stand for "A Great Miracle Happened There". Then, there is the gift giving tradition, which has evolved from the ancient gelt giving tradition. Since Hanukkah falls near Christmas, it got influenced by the latter's gift giving tradition as well. All these traditions give significant meaning and importance to the festival. In this section, we bring you the details of all the major traditions associated with Hanukkah.
Hanukkah Gift Giving Tradition
Hanukkah, like any other festival, has several traditions associated with it. The lighting of the special nine-branched candelabrum, Menorah, forms the main tradition of the festival. One light is lit per night proceeding to the lighting of eight lights on the final night. Among other traditions of Hanukkah, the gift giving tradition is growing popular with the passing time. It is actually a new concept that has evolved out of the gelt giving tradition of the Jews. In the past, the children were tested about their knowledge on Hanukkah.
Candle Lighting Blessings
Hanukkah is the Jewish festival of lights, which is celebrated for eight days, by lighting a special candelabrum called menorah. The festival commemorates the victory of Maccabees, over the Hellenistic Syrians. As per the Jewish tradition, the number of candles to be lit depends on the day of the festival, proceeding to eight lights on the last i.e. eighth night. People also light an extra light throughout the festival, called the shamash.
Hanukkah Food Tradition
Hanukkah, like any other festival, has some typical food traditions associated with it. For instance, it is customary to eat baked or fried foods. Preferably olive oil is used for making the dishes. This custom is based on the miracle that took place during the rededication of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. After the victory of Maccabees, the Temple was rededicated and the Menorah had to be lighted. But the Jewish High Priest, Kohen Gadol discovered that only a small quantity of olive oil was there.
Lighting Hanukkah Menorah
Hanukkah is also known as the ‘Festival of Lights'. As the name suggests, the entire festival is a celebration of the miraculous event that occurred years ago at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The wicks of the Menorah lit for an amazing eight days at a stretch, although the sacred oil in the temple was enough to light the wicks for only one day. This is the reason why lights and lighted decors play such an important part in the observation of the celebration.
Dreidel Playing Tradition
When the talk is about the festival of lights and goody food, as in Hanukah, the first thing that strikes the mind is undoubtedly the Dreidel playing tradition. Dreidel is a 4-sided spinning top, consisting of a distinctive Hebrew letter on each side. In America, the letters stand for "A Great Miracle Happened There". The Hanukkah tradition of playing Dreidel is not new.