The eight-day festival beginning on the 25th day of Kislev, commemorating the victory in 165 B.C. of the Maccabees over Antiochus Epiphanes (c. 215-164 B.C.) and the rededication of the Temple at Jerusalem. Also associated with the miracle of the oil lasting for 8 days to rededicate the temple. Often called the Feast of Dedication or Feast of Lights.
Thare are two different English spellings of Hanukkah/Chanukah and neither is incorrect. The Hebrew word for the festival of lights, Hanukkah/Chanukah, consists of five Hebrew characters opening with the consonant het (chet). This letter is not the same as the English letter "h". It is also not the same as "ch". It is a Hebrew guttural sound that has no precise equivalent in English.
The Menorah is a nine-branched candelabrum used in celebration of Hanukkah. Eight of the candles symbolize each night of Chanukah, and the highest candle, known as the Shamash, is used to light the other candles. On the first night of Chanukah a candle is lit, a new candle is lit for eight nights until all the candles are shining brightly.
A dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side. During Chanukah children and adults have fun playing the Dreidel game.
Each player is begins the game with a set number of game pieces. They can be coins, candy pieces, nuts or other items. At the beginning of each round, every player puts one game piece into the middle, or the pot. When it is your turn, you spin the dreidel. When the dreidel falls, it will land on one of the 4 letters. Depending on the outcome, you give or get game pieces from the pot. Each letter signifies something:
You keep playing until you run out of game pieces.
- Nun - "nothing" - You do nothing.
- Gimmel - "everything" - You get everything in the pot.
- Heh - "half" - You get half the pot.
- Shin - "put in" - You must put a game piece into the pot.
Check out the video below of The Maccabeats of Yeshiva University a capella Hanukkah hit video.