The History of Hanukkah

As we celebrate different cultures and traditions during the month of December, I will feature a different winter holiday each week — today’s feature: the history of Hanukkah.

This Jewish holiday, also called the Festival of Lights, celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BCE. The festival lasts for eight nights, and is marked by lighting candles in the menorah, one for each night, with a ninth called the shamash used to light the rest. This tradition has its origins at the original rededication of the temple, when only enough ritually pure olive oil was available to light the menorah for one day; miraculously, it lasted eight days.

Visit the History Channel website for an interactive look at the meaning and traditions of Hanukkah — The History of Hanukkah. Learn where it originated, and how it’s celebrated today. Explore the origins of the menorah and discover its origins in Jewish culture.

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