Thursday, December 2, 2010


Hanukkah (or Chanukah), sometimes referred to as the Festival of Lights, began December 1st. It's an eight-day holiday recalling the events of the Maccabean Revolt, the reclaiming of hegemony over the Temple at Jerusalem, and a reliving of the celebration that followed.

Modern Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration starting on the 25th day of the month of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, which places it in late November or December on the Common Era calendar. There is a story told in the second book of Maccabees concerning the relighting of the altar fire by Nehemiah as the result of a miracle that had occurred on Kislev 25. This event from an earlier era appears to be the reason
Judah Maccabees selected Kislev as the day for the rededication of the altar in 165 BCE.

Observance is carried out through a set of rituals performed each day of the eight days. Most are family-based and occur around the evening meal, the most important being the lighting of the candles soon after nightfall. On the first night a single light is lit, that number increasing by one each of the eight nights. The Hanukkah menorah has room for nine candles, the ninth, the shamash or guardian candle, should be higher than the others and is used to light the other candles. As the candles are lit, specific blessings over the lights and remembering God’s miracles are said.


Edited by J. Gordon Melton and Martin Baumann
ABC-CLIO, 2010

This masterful six-volume encyclopedia provides comprehensive, global coverage of religion, emphasizing larger religious communities without neglecting the world's smaller religious outposts.

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