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4 Facts About Hanukkah

Hanukkah’s rites and rituals are rooted in stories and history. Here are four facts that help explain the tradition of this ancient celebration.

Hanukkah’s rites and rituals are rooted in stories and history. Here are four facts that help explain the tradition of this ancient celebration.

  1. Known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration, usually in December, marked by the lighting of a candle each night. The eight days symbolize the miracle in which a lamp in the ancient temple of Jerusalem burned with just a one-day supply of oil.
  2. The Hanukkah candles are held in a nine-candle holder called a Menorah; the ninth candle, the Sammash, is the first to be lit, and it will light all subsequent candles.
  3. In honor of the oil, the symbolic “light” of the holiday, fried foods are traditional Hanukkah fare – latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyots (doughnuts) are often on menus. Cheese is also a popular Hanukkah ingredient used in kugels (baked noodle dishes), blintzes (cheese-filled crêpes) and, of course, cheesecake.
  4. Gifts are exchanged, and a typical present for children is “gelt” (money); it often takes edible form in the shape of chocolate coins wrapped in colorful foil.