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Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrated for eight days and nights. It is in fact the only Jewish holiday that is not mentioned in Jewish scripture. It starts on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, which coincides with late November-late December on the secular calendar. In Hebrew, the word "hanukkah" means "dedication." The name reminds us that this holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E.
Hanukkah traditions are strictly followed to celebrate the festival. One of the very important Hanukkah traditions is lighting the nine-branched candelabrum called Menorah. One candle is lit on each night of the eight-day festival. Three Jewish prayers are chanted before the candles on the Menorah are lit. According to the Hanukkah tradition, an extra candle is used to light the rest of the candles of the candelabrum. The extra candle is called as the "Shamash" or the 'servant candle', the single candle located at the middle of the candelabrum. After all the lights are kindled, Hanukkah songs are sung as part of the Hanukkah traditions. Games such as dreidel are played. Traditional Hanukkah food is cooked during the festival with oil as the key ingredient. Delicious Jelly donuts, fried latkes, pancakes, deep fried puffs are some of the most common foods served during the festival. Gift giving is another popular Hanukkah tradition. The Jewish children receive small gifts from their elder family members on Hanukkah. Hanukkah is celebrated worldwide and as with any major holiday there are some variations on the traditions and the way it is celebrated from region to region. For example, In Germany, the eighth and last night of Hanukkah all the left-over wicks and oil are lit in giant bonfires. People would then spend the rest of the night singing and dancing around the fire into the early hours of the morning. Following the Shabbat during Chanukah,...
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