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Guides: Religious Festivals

Last Updated: Monday December 10 2001 14:14 GMT

Hanukkah (Jewish)

The nine-branched candlestick
An eight-day festival celebrating a time in history when the Jews won a battle against the Greeks to practise their religion freely. The Greeks had banned Jewish rituals.

To celebrate, an oil lamp was lit in the temple. There was only enough oil to burn for one day - but miraculously it burned for eight days.

This is why the Hanukkah festival lasts for eight days and why light is the main item in the celebration.

Traditions

  • Children play with a spinning top called a 'dreidel' and they also get small presents each night.

  • Families eat 'latkes' or potato fritters and other oily food to remember the miracle of light.

  • The holiday is celebrated by lighting a nine-branched candlestick called a Hanukiyah, or Chanukah Menorah. You light the candle in the middle first, that one's called the Shamash. Then you use it to light one more candle on each night of Hanukkah.

    When?

  • December


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