Holidays Around the World: Celebrating Hanukkah

Imagine you are living in the city of Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago, and you are  a Jewish warrior, ready to help the people living in the sacred city of Jerusalem.  You are traveling with a group of other warriors who share your Jewish nationality and come from the same nation as you, and have similar customs- the warriors are known as the Maccabees, and they helped the people of Jerusalem.  

As a warrior, you see the people of Jerusalem gathering around and keeping warm by a candle that is burning by using oil underneath the candle to light it. The people of Jerusalem only have enough oil to heat a candle for one whole day, but, as you try your best to protect the people living in the city and stay with them, you see that the candle lasts for another 8 days.  This is the miracle of Hanukkah. 

Hanukkah celebrations last for a whole week, from December 10 to the 18, and is in honor and remembrance of the candle that lasted for 8 whole days and kept the people of Jerusalem safe and warm.  

One of the most traditional symbols of Hanukkah is the menorah, which is a candle holder with room for holding 8 candles, to mark each night the candle lasted over 2,000 years ago, as well as one more candle to light all the other candles.  

The other candle is called a “Shamash.”  

There are also traditional foods served during each night of Hanukkah, including potato pancakes called “latke” and jelly donuts for dessert. 

Every night during Hanukkah, children receive a small present to commemorate the holiday.  This can be a dreidel, which is a small toy that has a twister on top to turn it, a doll, or other traditional toys given during this Jewish holiday.

Children may also receive chocolate and other treats during Hanukkah, and families celebrate with a home-cooked meal lit by oil each night at sundown, and open small presents on each night of Hanukkah, which lasts for 8 days. 

This important Jewish holiday is also celebrated by having a mass that is held with services for every night of Hanukkah, and a candle is lit on the menorah for all 8 nights of Hanukkah in a Jewish synagogue, which is a church. Families and friends gather for each night and sing songs and open gifts during this commemorative

holiday, along with lighting a candle on the menorah for all eight nights.     

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