The first night of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah begins Dec. 6 and runs for eight days and nights until Dec. 14. Jewish families around the world mark the occasion, often referred to as the Festival of Lights, with festive games, food and gifts. Below are a few facts about the holiday.
1. The exact details of the origins of Hanukkah are debated by historians, though most agree that the events which inspired the holiday took place around 200 BCE during the Maccabean Revolt in Judea. Following a violent conflict, Jews took part in a rededication ceremony of the Second Temple by lighting a menorah on the altar. There was only enough oil to keep the menorah lit for one night but it burned for eight nights, constituting a miracle.
2. Modern celebrations of Hanukkah commemorate the original event by saying prayers and burning candles on a menorah for each of the eight nights. Traditions also include festive food and games. Many families make latkes, a potato pancake made with shredded potato and onion served with applesauce. Other popular dishes include brisket, a type of braised beef, and Sufganiyot, a jelly donut cooked in oil meant to symbolize the lamp oil of the original Hanukkah menorah.
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) December 1, 2015
3. One popular game is the spinning of the dreidel in which children spin a clay or wooden top to compete for gelt, or chocolate coins. Some families give one gift to each other each day for the eight nights of Hanukkah.
4. On the more frivolous side of Hanukkah, Jewish comedian Adam Sandler wrote a new version of his "Hanukkah Song" as a way to make up for the fact that there are dozens of Christmas Carols but almost no popular songs for Hanukkah. Sandler debuted the fourth and most recent version of his song last week on YouTube. "Here’s the fourth list of people who are Jewish, just like Jesus, Olaf, Punky Brewster, Scott Rudin, and me," sings Sandler in his latest tune.
5. Is it Chanukah or Hanukkah? In the Hebrew, Chanukah is pronounced with the letter chet. The letter “H” makes the closest sound. So both names are fine.