Hanukkah 2012: Date And 5 Things To Know About The Festival of Lights [PHOTOS]

 @nadinedeninnon.deninno@ibtimes.com
on December 07 2012 2:45 PM
  • 208881-an-ultra-orthodox-jewish-man-holds-a-child-as-he-lights-a-candle-for-h
    Hanukkah 2012 starts at sunset on Saturday and ends at sunset Sunday, Dec. 16. Here is all you need to know about the Jewish Festival of Lights. Reuters
  • Jewish seminary student Mayer Engel recites a prayer as he lights a candle for the Hanukkah in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighbourhood
    Jewish seminary student Mayer Engel recites a prayer as he lights a candle for the Hanukkah in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighbourhood Reuters
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Hanukkah 2012 starts at sunset on Saturday and ends at sunset on Sunday, Dec. 16. Here is all you need to know about the Jewish Festival of Lights.

What is Hanukkah?

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah commemorates Judas Maccabaeus, who successfully fought for freedom. In 168 B.C., Matathias and his sons, namely Maccabaeus, led a rebellion against Antiochus, the Syrian ruler of the Greek Empire. Jews expelled the Syrians from Jerusalem and reclaimed the Holy Temple.

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield shared with FOX News the importance of the holiday for Jews and non-Jews alike. "While Hanukkah is not the Jewish Christmas, each tells a story of finding greater hope and salvation than one could reasonably expect, and of doing so in the most unlikely of places. Whether in a little jar of oil that lasted longer than it should have or through a newborn baby delivered in a Bethlehem, we are reminded that good things do come in very small packages when we open our eyes and our hearts enough."

Celebrities who celebrate Hanukkah include Bar Rafaeli, Drake, Andrew Garfield, Kat Dennings, Adam Sandler, Elizabeth Banks, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jason Segel, Scarlett Johansson and Kate Hudson.

When does Hanukkah begin?

Hanukkah begins at sundown on Saturday with the lighting of the first candle. It is celebrated annually on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar.

What is a menorah?

A menorah is a nine branch candelabrum light during the eight day celebration. After the first candle is lit, additional candles are light each night until the menorah has all eight lights lit. The shammes is used to kindle other candles. The holiday lasts for eight days in honor of the eternal light which burned though the Jews only had enough ritually pure oil to burn their eternal light for one day.

How is Hanukkah celebrated?

Hanukkah is celebrated by members of the Jewish community all around the world with special rituals unique to the holiday. Daily rituals include daily prayer service, blessing food, singing, exchanging gifts on each night and traditional meals.

What is a drediel?

Dreidels, or sevivon in Hebrew, are spinning tops with four sides with Hebrew print, frequently played with by children during Hanukkah. There is a game associated with the drediel which many families play after lighting the menorah.

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