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The Festival of Lights Hanukkah, also known as Chanukah or the Celebration of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish festival.
Hanukkah begins on the 25th of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar, which corresponds to the time period between late November and December in the Gregorian calendar.
The first day of Hanukkah in 2022 begins at sunset on December 18 and finishes at sundown on December 26. This festival honoured the Maccabean Revolt, which occurred in the second century B.C., when Jews revolted against their captors.
Because Festival of Lights Hanukkah is not a federal holiday in the United States, businesses and schools are open.
History of Festival of Lights Hanukkah
Judea, or the Land of Israel, was under Syrian rule in the second century B.C. Antiochus IV Epiphanes come to power in 168 B.C. and banned Judaism, ordering his soldiers to ruin the Second Temple and establish a shrine to Zeus. Thousands of Jews were massacred as a consequence, and those who survived were compelled to convert to the Greek faith.
Over a two-year period, a band of Jews led by Judah the Maccabee rose up, armed themselves, and successfully drove the Seleucids out of Israel, regaining their city and Temple. When they were constructing the Second Temple altar, they discovered one cruse of olive oil that had not been touched by the Greeks.
What is the meaning of Festival of Lights Hanukkah?
Hanukkah is a Hebrew term that meaning “to devote,” and it commemorates the Maccabees’ rededication of the Temple to Jewish worship. It can also be an abbreviation for “Eight candles, and the halakha is like the House of Hillel,” which depicts the Hanukkah ceremony of lighting one candle in the Menorah for each night, as proposed by the House of Hillel.
In current times, Hanukkah reminds Jews of the tyranny they have faced throughout their history, as well as the need to strive for religious freedom. It is a historically significant holiday.
Festival of Lights Hanukkah in the United States
Although the Jewish population in America currently numbers in the millions, there were only a few thousand Jews in the United States in the nineteenth century, making basic Jewish religious requirements (such as kosher products and Torah scrolls) difficult to come by. As a result, Jews primarily celebrated big religious occasions, which meant that holidays such as Hanukkah were overlooked. Following the Civil War, some Rabbis began conducting special Hanukkah services for children in order to safeguard the survival of the Jewish religion in this new country.
By the twentieth century, industrialisation had enabled parents to give their children gifts for the holidays. Jews inherited this ritual but made it their own by sharing presents on Hanukkah rather than Christmas, so demonstrating their trust in America. To combat Christmas customs, Jews in American suburbia adorned Hanukkah festivities with decorations and presents in the 1950s, giving it a new unique significance. It is a reminder of the Jewish faith and Jewish family life at a time when everyone’s attention is on Christmas. Now, Hanukkah has a big significance in the United States.
Why does the date of Festival of Lights Hanukkah change every year?
Because Hanukkah is observed for eight days, beginning on the 25th of Kislev and ending on the 2nd of Tevet according to the Jewish calendar, the first and last day of Hanukkah vary from year to year. According to the Torah, Jewish holidays begin and conclude at dusk. Hanukkah falls around November/December on the Gregorian calendar.
Below are historical, current, and upcoming Festival of Lights Hanukkah start dates:
- Hanukkah 2019 is on Sunday, December 22nd.
- Thursday, December 10, 2020: Hanukkah
- Sunday, November 29, 2021: Hanukkah
- Sunday, December 18, 2022: Hanukkah
- Thursday, December 7, 2023: Hanukkah
- Wednesday, December 25, 2024: Hanukkah
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