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The Jewish Hanukkah Begins

Antonia R.Antonia R.

From December 7 - 15, Jews around the world will be celebrating their biggest holiday - Hanukkah. The festival lasts exactly 8 days and translated from Hebrew its name means 8-day.

According to traditions, a candle on the menorah is lit every day for a period of 8 days. As each subsequent day passes, the number of lit candles increases. The main candle is called the "shamash".

The Hanukkah menorah actually has 9 candle holders, with the 9th located in its center being the only one from which the other, smaller candles are allowed to be lit.

The holiday has to do with the Jews' battles against the Greek conquerors and rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It commemorates the victory of the Maccabees, a small group of Jewish warriors, over the Greek army in the time when the Greeks ruled over Jerusalem and the Holy Temple in it.

Once the Jews won their freedom, they went inside their Temple to remove any statues of foreign deities and lit 7 candles with olive oil. They only had enough of it to keep them lit for just 1 day.

Despite this, the candles burned for an entire 8 days, whence the name of the holiday also comes from.

A special prayer is read every one of the days. During the 1st day, they call out for peace, understanding, tolerance and humanism.

Much like the Christian Christmas, Hanukkah is seen as a family holiday among Jews. It is a favorite among children, who receive presents and treats every day for the 8 days.

Special holiday songs are sung during the holiday. Chiefly, they consume dishes cooked in vegetable oil, reminding of the ritual oil once used at the Holy Temple. The most popular foods are the potato pancakes latkes and donuts with filling sufganiyah.