Hanukkah: the in’s and out’s

Hanukkah: the ins and outs

Hailey Pullo, Editor-in-chief

Last Sunday at sundown marked the beginning of Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday that is celebrated over the course of eight days. Hanukkah is a joyous holiday that is celebrated starting on the 25 of Kislev, the ninth month of the Jewish calendar.
The holiday is celebrated to commemorate the miracle that occurred when Judas Maccabeus, a Jewish leader, successfully defeated King Antiochus IV who had outlawed Judaism in Judea. Antiochus IV had reportedly desecrated the city’s holy temple by erecting a statue of the Greek god Zeus, and sacrificing pigs within it. After Maccabeus had driven out Antiochus IV, he went to cleanse the temple but was only able to find enough sacred oil to burn for one night, though miraculously it burned for eight nights.
To celebrate this miracle, each night of Hanukkah Jewish people light one candle out of the nine that are held in a menorah. The center candle is lit first and is then used to light the other candles from left to right. Typically a blessing is offered with the lighting of each candle. Many Jewish people also have daily readings of scripture while observing Hanukkah.
Traditionally, food eaten during Hanukkah is often fried in oil to commemorate the burning of oil over the eight nights. Foods like fried potato pancakes called latkes, and sufganiyot -fried donuts- are commonly eaten during this time. In modern years, gift giving has become popular with those who celebrate Hanukkah.
Hanukkah is spelled many different ways in English, this is due to the fact that it is originally a Hebrew word. Because the Hebrew language has its own alphabet, the word must be converted into the English alphabet. Because the Hebrew alphabet has letters that do not have a corresponding letter in English, the sound of the word must be translated. The closest letter to this specific sound is ‘h’, but the combination of the letters ‘ch’ is more similar to the Hebrew pronunciation. This is why it may be spelled both Hanukkah and Chanukah.
Hanukkah is considered to be a minor Jewish holiday compared to major holidays like Yom Kippur-the day of atonement-and Rosh Hashanah-Jewish new year. Unlike these holidays, the observance of Hanukkah is not mandated by the Torah. Jewish people are not obligated to take time off of work or school for the celebration of Hanukkah. Because Judaism is a closed religion, Hanukkah may only be observed by those who practice the Jewish faith.
To wish someone a happy Hanukkah you can use the phrase “Hanukkah Sameach” which means “happy Hanukkah”. It’s also appropriate to use the phrases “Chag Urim Sameach” and “Chag Sameach”, which mean “Happy festival of lights” and “Happy holiday”.