Menorah Hanukkah Berlin
The first lamp of a large scale menorah in front of the Brandenburg Gate lights after it was lit by Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal and German Interior Minist Lothar de Maiziere, Dec. 16, 2014, in Berlin, Germany. Carsten Koall/Getty Images

Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights will commence at sundown on Tuesday, Dec. 12, and end with nightfall on Wednesday, Dec. 20. The 8-day holiday celebrates the rededication of the second temple in Jerusalem following a massacre ordered by the Greek-Syrian King Antiochus IV that initially pushed Jews from the city.

Hanukkah, which means "dedication" or "inauguration," begins on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar and usually occurs in November or December.

Hanukkah, or Chanukah, has its origins in the Maccabean Jews’ successful uprising against the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire in the 2nd century BC. During the rededication of the Holy Temple they discovered that there was only enough oil to light the menorah for a single day but the candles stayed burning for eight days, giving birth to the Hanukkah miracle and an eight-branch menorah.

How to celebrate

Jews place the menorah with a straight even line of candles, with the ninth, middle, candle, known as the Shamash, either higher or lower. Hanukkah lights can be either candle flames or oil-fueled.

During the celebrations, children are usually given Hanukkah gelt, or money. Passages from the Book of Numbers in the Torah are read at synagogues during Hanukkah. The two most iconic Hanukkah foods are fried in oil — latkes, or potato pancakes, and sufganiyot, or doughnuts.

Hanukkah songs are played that were composed hundreds of years ago, such as "Ma’Oz Tzur." Modern classics in English and Hebrew, include "I Have a Little Dreidel," "Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah" and "Sivivon, sov, sov, sov" (a sivivon is a dreidel or top).


"Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light."

"Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe, Who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days at this time."

"Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion."