How much do you know about Hanukkah? Do you know why the menorah has 9 candles? Or why Jewish people eat fried foods like latke? Get ready to learn about Hanukkah’s history and how it became such a widely celebrated holiday. (It wasn’t always as popular as it is today!) These are 25 Facts About Hanukkah You Might Not Know!
Hanukkah celebrates the military victory of the Maccabees, an army of Jewish rebels, when they took back the Temple from the Syrian-Greeks.
The holiday lasts 8 days because when they re-conquered the temple, the Maccabees lit a lamp. They only had oil for one day, but it burned for eight!
The Torah doesn't actually mention Hanukkah.
Since there isn't any exact way to recreate the Hebrew sounds in English, there are numerous ways of spelling Hanukkah (Hannuka, Chanukah, etc).
The Jewish religion puts more emphasis on holidays like Passover and Rosh Hashanah.
Jews in the US began to put more emphasis on the holiday in the early 20th century because it occurs around the time that people of other religions, notably Christians, are also celebrating.
Today, Jews around the world, even in Israel, have followed suit and thus Hanukkah is much more important than it once was.
Traditional Hanukkah food is all fried in oil to commemorate the miracle of the oil.
During Hanukkah, kids play with dreidels which are basically small spinning tops.
Legend says that since the Jews weren't allowed to read the Torah, they pretended to gamble with the dreidels while studying the text.
Modern dreidels have four Hebrew letters written on them - Nun, Gimel, Ha, and Shin. It is said that they stand for "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham," meaning "A great miracle happened there."
Some popular foods eaten during Hanukkah include latkes (potato pancakes), kugel (noodle or potato casserole), and gelt (chocolate coins).
Since the holiday is based on the Hebrew calendar, there is no set Gregorian day for Hanukkah.
In 2013, Hanukkah overlapped with Thanksgiving which led to numerous Thanksgivukkah memes. (The next time this happens will be in 2070.)
In the past, many Jews would give money instead of presents. Due to the influence of holidays like Christmas, however, modern Jews tend to prefer gift giving.
Children typically receive gelt, or money, in the form of chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil.
Hanukkah always starts on the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev.
Hanukkah menorahs are nine-branched candelabrums lit during the eight day period of the holiday.
The ninth branch is called a shamash and is used to light the other branches.
Every day of Hanukkah an extra candle is lit, as well as all the candles that were lit on the previous days. To celebrate the whole eight days, you'll need 44 candles!
Besides different colors, there are also different scents available for menorah candles!
Music isn't a significant part of Hanukkah (compared to Christmas), and songs like "I Have a Little Dreidel" are mainly for kids.
In 1979, President Jimmy Carter lit the first National Menorah in the White House lawn.
In 1996, the US Post Office issued a 32 cent Hanukkah stamp as a joint issue with Israel.
As compared to other Jewish holidays, Hanukkah has almost no restriction on work other than for a few minutes after lighting the candles.
Featured Image: shutterstock, 25. wikimedia commons (public domain), 24-22. pixabay (public domain), 21. Eczebulun, Passover-usa, CC BY-SA 3.0, 20-16. pixabay (public domain), 15. Adiel lo, Colorful dreidels2, CC BY-SA 3.0, 14-13. pixabay (public domain), 12. www.someecards.com, 11. pixabay (public domain), 10. liz west, Chanukah gelt, CC BY 2.0, 9. pixabay (public domain), 8. Yoav Nachtailer, Exhibit in heichal shlomo – Hanukkah Menorah4, CC BY-SA 3.0, 7-4. wikimedia commons (public domain), 3. AgnosticPreachersKid, White House DC, CC BY-SA 3.0, 2-1. pixabay (public domain)