Hanukkah lasts for eight days and eight nights for Jewish people around the world. The story of Hanukkah is one from the Old Testament. It involves the Greek king, Antiochus and the Maccabees led by Judah Maccabee.
As the story goes, the Jewish people of Jerusalem were conquered by King Antiochus who was a practicing Greek. King Antiochus did not approve of the views and beliefs of the Jewish people, so he sent his army to destroy anyone who continued to practice Judaism. When the army would come, children learning Judaism would put away their scrolls and take out tops called Dreidels. In addition to murdering innocent people, King Antiochus’ army vandalized the Jewish Beit-Hamikdash and tampered with the seals of the pure oil used to light the golden Menorah each day. The Jewish people only found one day’s worth of pure oil that had not been made impure and it would take eight days to get the new oil. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days and eight nights. Judah and the Maccabees defeated the Greek army with G-d’s help. This is why Jewish people around the globe celebrate Hanukkah for eight days and nights each year.
In the modern day, Jewish people play Dreidel and give gifts each night of Hanukkah. They eat foods, such as potato pancakes known as Latkes, jelly doughnuts called Sufganiyot and chocolate coins, Gelt. It is a wonderful celebration of Jewish heritage, however, it is not the most significant celebration in the Jewish religion.
Dina Shapiro, class of 2017, said, “So first we always light the menorah and then we usually have latkes together on the first night with applesauce and we sit at the table” about her Hanukkah experience at home.
Hanukkah is often compared to Christmas, but there really is no comparison. They are very different holidays for very different reasons. Christmas is mostly commercialized nowadays while Hanukkah, although slightly commercialized with gifts, is still more about the spiritual aspect. This is not to say anything against Christmas. It is still a great holiday, however, peoples’ motives for celebrating these holidays are not-so-pure anymore.