When it comes to Hanukkah, you’re probably all too familiar with the lights, latkes, and dreidel-playing, but you may not be aware that despite it being one of the most recognized of the Jewish holidays, it does not carry much religious importance. In fact, Hanukkah is the only Jewish festival that honors an event not even mentioned in the Torah.
The historic reason we celebrate the Jewish “Festival of Lights” dates back to the second century. The holiday commemorates the recapturing of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Jewish rebels (Maccabees) after their victory over the Greek-Syrians. The Temple menorah, which was meant to burn every night, needed to be lit, but there was only enough blessed oil to keep the flame burning for one day. The miracle that followed was that the oil lamps continued to burn for eight days until fresh supplies of oil were obtained. The lighting of eight candles at Hanukkah symbolizes those eight miraculous days.
As the festivities kick off at sundown, we bring you 8 more fascinating facts you might not know about the holiday.
It’s all about the sufganiyot. Approximately 18 million jam-filled doughnuts (sufganiyot) are consumed in Israel during the eight days of Hanukkah. Roughly 80 percent of Israelis will eat at least one oily sufganiyot during the week of Hanukkah, with the average Israeli devouring at least four over the holiday period. The sweet treat is traditionally made with strawberry jam, but today’s sufganiyot makers are becoming increasingly innovative and turning out flavors from pistachio to dulce de leche.
sed out. Her actions helped save Israel from Babylonian invasion.
Is it Hanukkah, Hanukah, or Chanukah?
Hanukkah is a Hebrew word (חֲנֻכָּה), so it is difficult to transliterate it “correctly” into English, and that’s why there are many acceptable spellings of the word. There are at least 16 different ways to spell the holiday in English according to the web. The Spanish have at least three variations, with “Janukah” being the most prevalent. In 2005, the Board of Guardians of British Jews decided enough was enough and decreed that “British Jews should only spell the festival of Chanukah as Chanukah.”