Every year, Hanukkah is celebrated in late November or early December.

The exact start and end date of the celebration changes year to year, as it is determined by the 25th day of Kislev, according to the Hebrew calendar.

The eight-night Jewish Festival of Lights commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, which reportedly dates back to the 2nd century B.C.


Jewish people around the world celebrate Hanukkah every year.

Here are common ways to celebrate the holiday.

Jewish people around the world celebrate the holiday with a special Hanukkah menorah, which has nine candle branches. (iStock)

  1. What is Hanukkah?
  2. What is the popular Hanukkah tradition?
  3. How is Hanukkah celebrated?
  4. What food is eaten on Hanukkah?

1. What is Hanukkah?

The Talmud, a sacred Jewish text, states that Hanukkah recognizes the Maccabean revolt that the Hebrews led against the Hellenistic influence that was being imposed by the Greco-Syrian Seleucid rulers, according to National Geographic.

The sacred text says that a miracle of light occurred when Judah rededicated the Temple after the revolt.

A single intact jar of oil was found inside the desecrated temple and burned for eight nights, according to the Talmud. Several millennia later, Hanukkah still celebrates the miraculous moment when light supposedly overcame darkness.

2. What is the popular Hanukkah tradition?

Jewish people around the world observe the holiday with a special Hanukkah menorah, which has nine candle arms instead of seven.

The central candle, also known as the Shamash or auxiliary candle, is used to light the other eight for each night of Hanukkah. The candles are lit and placed on the menorah from right to left.


Hanukkah menorahs have eight candle arms to represent the eight nights the Second Temple oil lamp burned. The middle sail arm, which is technically the ninth, is reserved for the auxiliary sail. (iStock)

Many Hanukkah observers display their menorahs in areas where the sacred candelabrum can be seen by inhabitants and guests.

3. How is Hanukkah celebrated?

There are many traditions that are carried out in observance of Hanukkah. Some popular traditions that have become ubiquitous at the Festival of Lights include exchanging gifts and playing dreidel.

Especially in more recent years, several Hanukkah films have been made and commonly watched during the celebration. Hallmark, in particular, has started adding more Hanukkah-focused films to its lineup, with films like “Eight Gifts of Hanukkah” and “Hanukkah on Rye.”


There are many TV episodes related to Hanukkah themes. A popular one is an episode of “Friends” called “The One with the Holiday Armadillo” where Ross is determined to teach his son Ben about Hanukkah and get him excited about the holiday, but runs into hilarious challenges along the way. .

There's a Hanukkah episode of “Rugrats,” “The OC,” “The Goldbergs” and more.

Britannica reports that religious observers celebrate Hanukkah with readings from Scripture, recitations of Psalms, giving alms, and singing hymns.

The encyclopedia notes that Hanukkah is considered a national holiday in Israel. Schools are closed, but government offices, stores and transport services operate normally, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

4. What food is eaten on Hanukkah?

Latkes are a popular Hanukkah dish often served during the holiday. Latke is a fried potato pancake made with grated potatoes and is often served with different toppings such as applesauce and sour cream.

There are many ways to add more creativity to the classic dish, using ingredients like sweet potatoes or zucchini.

Dreidels and chocolate coins

Dreidels and chocolate coins are often given to children during Hanukkah celebrations. (iStock)

Sufganiyot is another food often eaten during Hanukkah. These fried jelly donuts are the perfect Hanukkah dessert. Another sweet associated with Hanukkah is gelt, the chocolate coins that are won during a game of dreidel.


A savory brisket and a side of Kugel, an egg noodle casserole, are also often part of the Hanukkah spread.

Cortney Moore contributed reporting.

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