Hanukkah 2021: How To Celebrate

Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, will commence at sundown Sunday, Nov. 28, and end with nightfall Monday, Dec. 6.

The eight-day holiday celebrates the rededication of the second temple in Jerusalem following a massacre ordered by the Greek-Syrian King Antiochus IV that initially pushed Jews from the city.

Hanukkah, which means "dedication" or "inauguration," begins on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, and usually occurs in November or December. On the first day of Hanukkah, the first candle in the eight-branched candelabra or menorah, is lit.

How To Celebrate

During Hanukkah, Jews place an even line of straight candles on the menorah. A candle is added each night as part of "lo moridim ba-kodesh," which means one does not decrease in holiness. The length of the ninth candle, which is placed in the middle and is known as Shamash, is kept either higher or lower than the others. Hanukkah lights can be either candle flames or oil-fueled. During the celebrations, children are usually given Hanukkah gelt or money.

Celebrate the days with Hanukkah songs that were composed hundreds of years ago, such as "Ma'Oz Tzur." Modern classics in English and Hebrew, include "I Have a Little Dreidel," "Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah" and "Sivivon, sov, sov, sov" (a sivivon is a dreidel or top). Passages from the Book of Numbers in the Torah are read at synagogues during Hanukkah.

The two most iconic Hanukkah foods — latkes or potato pancakes, and sufganiyot or doughnuts — are fried in oil.

Dreidel, a four-sided spinning top, is used to play a gambling game during Hanukkah. Hebrew letters — nun, gimel, hey, and shin — adorn the sides of the dreidel, meant to spell out the words "nes gadol hayah sham," meaning "a great miracle happened there."

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