Hanukkah: The Jewish Festival of Lights

Shalom! It’s the last day of Hanukkah (also known as Chanukah) which started December 10, and we can only wish you all the best as we get closer to the end of the year. For those who aren’t familiar with the word, Hanukkah, it’s a Jewish festival which is usually observed to commemorate the early victory of the Jews against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean revolt.

In Hebrew, Hanukkah means dedication, and it begins on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar and often celebrated in November or December. If you have Jewish friends or neighbours making reference to the Festival of Lights, they are probably saying something about Hanukkah. This festival is celebrated for 8 days and we shall let you in on the story behind it.

Image Source: Pixabay

According to history, around 200 B.C., the control of Judea (also known as the Land of Israel) was taken over by the Seleucid king of Syria, Antiochus III. The king was benevolent to an extent and he didn’t prevent the Jews who lived there from practising their religion. However, since all humans are not the same, it’s not surprising that the King’s son (Antiochus IV Epiphanes) had a different idea about conquering a nation and being the supreme leader.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes placed a ban on the Jewish religion and mandated that the Jew had to worship the Greek gods. It was said that during his reign, his soldiers massacred a lot of people and desecrated the city’s holy Second Temple by erecting a place of worship for Zeus and sacrificed pigs. This act of disregard for the Jews and their faith resulted in a rebellion which was led by Mattathias (Jewish Priest) and his five sons. After the death of Mattathias, his son (Judah) carried on with the battle and they won within two years.

The Jews had to cleanse the desecrated temple, the altar had to be restored back to its original state and the menorah (gold candelabrum) had to be lit. The menorah’s candles were meant to be kept burning every night despite having olive oil to sustain the burning just for a single day. Based on different sources, it was reported that the light was on for eight nights (also known as the Hanukkah Miracle), and this enabled the Jews to have enough time to find olive oil.

Apart from Israel where we all know you have higher chances of finding a Jew, there are other countries that have Jewish communities. The U.S. and the UK are some of the places where the Jews thrive, they even have schools for their children, some are notable politicians and entrepreneurs, others have contributed to the field of science, while others just enjoy being lecturers in the University.

Hanukkah is widely celebrated by Jews, and if you really want to know those celebrities that are celebrating the 2020 festival, simply go to the social media pages of your favourite Jews. I’m certain that you will be greeted with pictures of a nine-branched menorah. On each night of the eight days celebration, a candle is added after sundown. It’s also worth noting that a night candle (shamash) is required to light the other candles.

As usual with any sacred festival, one typically has to pray. Other essential or interesting aspects of the holiday include traditional foods (Latkes, Briskets, Challah Bread, etc.), gifts (Wine, Shirt, Candle, Gloves, etc.), games (Dreidel, Scavenger Hunt, etc.), and placing the menorah close to the window to remind people of the event that led to the Hanukkah.

For the sake of those that might be wondering who these Jewish U.S. celebrities are, well, our list will surely blow your mind if you don’t know them. Lets quickly dive in into the world our favourite and famous Jewish celebrities and they include but not limited to; Tiffany Haddish, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mila Kunis, Drake, Gwyneth Paltrow, Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, and Rashida Jones.

Image Source: Instagram (Andy Cohen)

Also, we have others or well-wishers that acknowledge the existence and significance of Hanukkah to the Jews and have at one time or the other celebrated the festival with the Jews. We have people like; Kamala Harris (U.S. Vice President-elect), Chrissy Teigen and Michael Buble.

With the global pandemic, travel plans have been disrupted and social distancing seems to be our new best friend. It’s more likely that so many people skipped the idea of social gathering to settle for an indoor celebration of the Hanukkah with family and few friends.

Once in a while, I still come across people that feel anyone from Israel must definitely be a Christian because Jesus Christ was a native of Israel. They are totally oblivious of the fact that Judaism is the religion of the Jews and they celebrate Hanukkah instead of Christmas. If you plan to relocate to a country where the dominant religion is Christianity, then Italy has to be on your radar.

It’s the festive season and we just want to say Happy Hanukkah to every Jewish community out there.

As usual, the Dartemuv team just want to say thank you for reading this article and hope to bring you more…

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