Hanukkah (also spelled “Chanukah”) is an eight-day winter “festival of lights,” which begins each year on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. Because the Hebrew calendar is based on the lunar cycle, the dates of Jewish holidays according to the Gregorian calendar change from year to year (the Old Farmers Almanac). In 2020, Hanukkah begins at sundown on December 10.
The holiday is celebrated with the lighting of the menorah, traditional foods, games and gifts. “The Hanukkah celebration revolves around the kindling of a nine-branched menorah, known in Hebrew as the hanukiah. On each of the holiday’s eight nights, another candle is added to the menorah after sundown; the ninth candle, called the shamash (“helper”), is used to light the others. Jews typically recite blessings during this ritual and display the menorah prominently in a window as a reminder to others of the miracle that inspired the holiday” (History.com).
In short, Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after a group of Jewish warriors defeated the occupying Greek armies. The festival celebrates the triumph of light over darkness and of spirituality over materiality. Click here to learn more about the history of Hanukkah.
Traditional Hanukkah recipes include foods fried in oil, to commemorate the original miracle of the oil. Dairy products are also popular during Hanukkah. Some of the most popular foods include latkes (fried potato pancakes), applesauce, sufganiyot (deep-fried or jelly doughnuts), and rugelach pastries. See more Hanukkah recipes!