The History of Chanukah
and foremost, Chanukah is a historical, nationalist holiday. It commemorates the
successful rebellion, in the second century B.C.E., of a clan of Jewish freedom
fighters called the Maccabees. These warriors rose up against Antiochus, a
Greco-Syrian monarch who ruled Israel with a hard hand, banning Jews from
practicing their faith and pressuring them to convert to a Hellenic way of life.
Despite being greatly
outnumbered, the Maccabees managed to recapture the Holy Temple, the premier
site of ancient Judaism, from their oppressors. Chanukah means dedication in
Hebrew -- the holiday pays tribute to the dedication of a group of Jews who
believed fervently in their right to religious and nationalist freedom.
Of course, there's also a religious aspect to Chanukah. Also known as the
"Festival of Lights," Chanukah celebrates the miracle that occurred
when the Maccabees reclaimed the Temple. The sanctuary was a shambles, torn
apart by the Greco-Syrian forces. The fighters found only enough oil to light a
lantern -- by which to read the Torah -- for one day. But the lantern blazed for
eight full days.
Celebrated on the 25th
day of the Jewish month of Kislev, during the darkest days of the year, the
candle-lighting holiday is a warm ritual to banish the winter blahs. When
Jews light the eight candles of the menorah on the eight nights of Chanukah,
they recite a prayer extolling God who "performed miracles for our
ancestors in days of old."
[ Home ] [ Chanukah Recipes ] [ Chanukah Info ] [ THE DREIDEL ] [ The Maccabees ] [ Chanukah History ] [ Chanukah Timeline ] [ Chanukah Lessons ] [ Chanukah Songs ] [ The Night Before Chanukah ] [ The Dichotomy of Jewish Mothers ] [ Site Map ]