The origins of Hanukah or the Festival of Lights are an event that happened 200 years before the birth of Christ. A king named Antiochus attempted to have all Jewish persons under his reign to follow the Greek religion. Under the leadership of Judah Maccabee, there was a rebellion.
After three years of fighting, the Maccabees drove the Greek soldiers away. The Maccabees wanted to rededicate the temple, but were only able to find enough oil for one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted eight days; long enough to make new oil.
An important part of the Hanukah celebration is the menorah. This is a candleholder with eight candles and a shammash or servant candle. One candle is lit by the shammash for each of the night of Hanukah.
After the lighting of the candles, people give gifts to one another. People sing and make merry. A popular food for Hanukah is potato pancakes, or latkes, cooked in oil in honor of the miracle.
Children enjoy playing the dreidel game. This is a top game played with nuts or gold-covered chocolate coins. There are four letters of the top which stand for nun, gimmel, hay, and shin and give the directions for what to give or take during the game. The letters also stand for "nes gadol hayah sham" or "a great miracle happened there."
to celebrate Hanukah:
Make a Dreidel