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  August 27, 2014
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Hanukkah History - Fun Hanukkah Activites for Friends and Family

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Hanukkah History

Hanukkah comes from the Hebrew word meaning dedication. The history of Hanukkah begins with Alexander the Great who, after conquering Syria, Egypt and Judea, allowed all people to continue to observe their chosen religions. It wasn’t until later that the successor of Alexander the Great, Antiochus IV, caused a great upheaval in among the Jewish population.

Under the reign of Antiochus, the Jewish people were required to worship Greek Gods. In 165 BCE, Judah’s son Maccabee decided to rebel against this law and formed a crusade against Antiochus. Having defeated the Greek Army, Maccabee and his allies found a sacred temple which had been left in ruins as a result of Antiochus’ army, and they restored the temple to its former glory.

Thus, on the 25th day of Kislev, they dedicated the temple by lighting a restored Menorah. Although they were only able to find enough oil to keep the Menorah lit for one day, a miracle occurred in which the Menorah stayed lit for eight days.

Thus, the Festival of Lights was born to commemorate that day in the temple when the miracle of the Menorah first occurred. All Jews celebrate the miracle of the oil by placing eight candles in the Menorah and lighting one candle on each of the eight days of Hanukkah.

Although not considered a holy day, Hanukkah is nevertheless celebrated by Jews around the world in observance of the miracle of the oil that occurred in the temple. Hanukkah traditionally begins on the 22nd of December and ends on the 31st of December.

Research also reveals that there are two types of Menorahs: one is 7-branched and one is 8-branched. There was a prohibition against the use of a 7-branched Menorah similar to the one used in the original temple.

The Chanukah (another way of spelling Hanukkah) Menorah has a place for eight candles as well as a ninth candle set apart from the rest. It is said that the eight candles commemorate the miracle of the oil while the ninth candle, the Shamash, symbolizes light.

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