The Holidayopolis Menorah
THE HISTORY OF HANUKKAH
Hanukkah, or Chanukah, or חֲנֻכָּה or however you like to spell it (we’re not fussy), is a holiday that falls in the Jewish calendar beginning on the 25th of Kislev and lasting for eight days. It is known as The Festival of Lights, or Chag ha’Urim or חַג הַאוּרִים both because of the story of Hanukkah and because of the special candles we light each night of the holiday. Hanukkah might fall as early as Thanksgiving or as late as Christmas, but here in Hanukkah Town, we celebrate it every day. What we do to celebrate is to light a special candleholder that has room for eight candles plus one extra which is used to light the number of candles corresponding to the day in the holiday–one (plus the extra one) on the first night, two (plus one) on the second, and so on, until all eight candles (and the extra one) are blazing on the last night of the holiday in the front window. Some homes have a tradition of giving coins (or gelt) to children to teach them to donate money to charity. Other families like to give small gifts each night, or on the first or last night. It is traditional to understand that while the candles are burning, we are meant to have a small period of rest, or Sabbath, in which no work should be done. What’s especially fun about the holiday is games we play like dreidl (a spinning top that we use to “gamble” chocolate coins or pennies or raisins), songs we sing, and the foods we eat, which are traditionally fried foods like latkes (potato pancakes) and donuts. What’s not to love?