What is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah, sometimes spelled Chanukah, is the Jewish Festival of Lights. This year it lasts from sundown on Thursday, December 7 to sundown on Friday, December 15. The holiday always begins on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev and lasts eight days.
The Story of Hanukkah
The name Hanukkah comes from a Hebrew word meaning "to dedicate," and the holiday commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple when Jerusalem was retaken in the second century BCE during the Maccabean revolt.
To celebrate this event, a menorah (a nine-branched candelabrum) was lit. The menorah's supply of oil was expected to last only one day — yet, miraculously, the flames kept alive for eight days. Thus, Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting a menorah each evening over eight days: on each subsequent evening, one more candle is lit. It's also customary during Hanukkah to eat foods like latkes and doughnuts, to play games with a dreidel (a four-sided top), and to give and receive gifts.
Hanukkah in San Jose
Local Hanukkah events this year include:
- Firelight Shadow Theater will be presenting Spin Me a Shadow, Tell Me a Hanukkah Tale at four SJPL branches!
- Menorahs & Miracles at Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose (Sunday, December 3)
San José Public Library has lots of books, movies, and music to help make Hanukkah even more festive!