Hanukkah also referred to as the “ Festival of lights”, is a Jewish festival. Hanukkah also called as Chanukkah is an eight-day celebration which excites children and people of all age groups. Hanukkah has taken a place equal to Passover as a symbol of Jewish identity. The North American and the Israelis versions of Hanukkah emphasize resistance, focusing on some combination of national liberation and religious freedom as the defining meaning of the holiday. The festival of Hanukkah is observed and celebrated worldwide with fun and frolic. Hanukkah is derived from a Hebrew verb which means "to dedicate”. Hence on this day we pray and dedicated ourselves to the God and rejoice with family. Lots of rituals and traditions are involved in this 8 day holiday season, where some are communal and some involve family only. There are special additions to the daily prayer service, and a section is added to the blessing after meals. Hanukkah is a holiday time to celebrate and hence there is no obligation to refrain from anything. Although there is no religious reason for schools to be closed or a holiday but in Isreal school close from second week to give children time to enjoy there Holiday season. People go out to work early so that they can get back home early to light up the lamp or Menorah.
It was instituted in 165 BC to commemorate the victory of the Maccabees(led by Judah)over the hellenistic Syrians in a revolt. The victory was considered to be an extraordinary event. The Temple Mount in Jerusalem had to be rededicated when it was reclaimed and the sources say that when the perpetual lamp of the temple was to be relighted only one jar of holy oil, sufficient for one day was found miraculously burning for eight days. In memory of this the Jews celebrated the festival of lights called Hanukkah.
Food plays a vital role in all occasions and therefore it is customary to eat fried foods on Hanukkah because of the significance of oil to the holiday. During Hanukkah a basic menu of traditional and contemporary dishes are served which includes “latkes”, better known as potato pancakes with sour cream. Jews also enjoy having sufganiot, a kind of jelly doughnut and other delicious savouries.
The most crucial ritual of the Hanukkah festival is the lighting of the candles one by one. Infact this is one of the major tradition of the holiday season. Candles are placed in a special candleholder called a "menorah" or a "hanukkiah". Each night, one more lighted candle is added. The middle candle, called the "shamash", helps to light the other candles and it is lit every night. Shamash has a special position in mehorah usually above the rest of the candles present in the Menorah. Menorah can be lighted with candles, or oil lamps. In some places blubs are used like in hospitals where flames are prohibited. Hanukkah lamps are lighted half and hour before it gets dark and the lighted lamps are placed near the window or door or any prominent position where passers by can see the light and get the feel of Holiday Season.
Since it falls near Christmas giving and receiving gifts has become an important part of the celebration. In addition to the preparation of highly enjoyable dishes, exchanging of gifts is also a popular tradition to hand out Chanukah Gelts or small amounts of money. It derives directly from Hanukkah’s close proximity to Christmas. Gift-giving tradition is believed to diminish jealousy and aggravate love among each other. With the change of time some new traditions like sending Hanukkah ecards and Hanukkah greetings are fast gaining popularity. People across the globe send their dear ones who are far away from them beautiful hanukkag greetings with their warm wishes.
After the lighting up of the Hanukkah menorah, people of all age from children to senior citizens play the traditional game of Hanukkah called Dreidels to celebrate the holiday accompanied by beautiful Chanukkah songs. Dreidel is a four sided spinning top that children play. Each side is imprinted with a Hebrew letter. When the dreidels are spin what side comes the players has to receive or give a part of his stash(coin). Traditionally speaking it is only a minor Jewish holiday. Hanukkah has taken a place equal to Passover as a symbol of Jewish identity.
Falling near Christmas Hanukkah is always celebrated with lots of happiness. Every nook and corner of the city is lit up with happiness and family reunion. Those who cannot fly to their dear ones now a days choose to send Hanukkah gifts or Hanukkah ecards, which are very easy to send any where across the globe. Hence go ahead send our free Hanukkha cards and Hanukkah greetings to your loved ones and make their holiday special!