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Hanukkah: Love & Light

Hanukkah - Love & Lights

Colorful candles burning bright, each lit on eight very special nights.

Hanukkah is here! The first candle lighting began last night and today is the first day of Hanukkah. So grab your dreidel, it’s time to celebrate Hanukkah!

What Is Hanukkah? A History

Hanukkah celebrates the triumph of faith and courage over military might, when a band of Israelites stood up for their right to be Jewish. They were prohibited under penalty of death from studying their sacred texts or performing important mitzvot. Their holy Temple had been defiled, and they were ordered to worship other gods. A small band of faithful Israelites, known as the Maccabees, rose up and defeated the invaders, reclaimed the Temple, and rededicated it to God.

The eternal flame in the Temple’s great menorah (the lamp stand) had to be lit, but the Jews had only a one-day supply of the sacred olive oil needed to burn (which took 8 days to prepare). They decided, in faith, to light the flame anyway, and a great miracle occurred. The jug of oil refilled itself every day with enough oil to relight the Temple’s great menorah, and this continued for 7 days, the exact time it took to prepare new oil!

 Celebrating Hanukkah

Lighting Candles

The most basic thing you need to celebrate Hanukkah is a 9-branched candelabra, called a Hannukiah (or often a Menorah, although technically a Menorah only has 7 branches). Eight of the branches represent the eight nights, while the last one (usually at a different height than the rest) is called the shamash or helper candle, and is used to light the rest of the candles.

On the first night, the shamash is lit, a blessing is said and the first candle is lit. On the second night, the shamash again helps to light two candles and so on, until the eighth night when all nine branches are lit. You should always light the Hannukiah from left to right. It is also a tradition to place your candelabra near a window to remind passersby of the miracle. However, be very careful with the lit flames!

Playing Dreidel

A four sided top, called a dreidel is used to play a gambling-type game with small candies or nuts. Players get an equal amount of candies, and some are placed into a “pot” in the center. Players take turns spinning the dreidel. The sides of the dreidel indicate whether to put in or draw out the loot. The game ends when someone has all the candies.

Hanukkah Gelt (Money)

Small gifts of money (gelt), usually coins, are given to children on each night of Hanukkah. Chocolate coins are also a popular treat during Hanukkah.

Importance of Oil & Hanukkah Food

Blue Hanukkah FlowersHanukkah just wouldn’t be the same without the traditional food cooked in oil. Latkes (pancakes made from shredded potatoes, onions, matzoh meal and salt) are fried in oil to crispy gold brown, then served with applesauce. The frying oil reminds celebrants of the miracle of the oil. Small powdered sugar donuts, called sufgeniot are also a popular Hanukkah treat, especially in Israel. Fried, oil-rich foods are the theme!

Hanukkah & Christmas

Although they are celebrated around the same time, they are completely different holidays. In fact, Hanukkah is only a minor Jewish holiday. Enjoy Hanukkah for what it means to our lives today about faith, and standing up for one’s beliefs in the face of strong opposition.

However, there are still many similarities. Both Christmas and Hanukkah trace their origins back hundreds of years and celebrate great miracles. There is gift giving, wonderful lights, candles, holiday parties, family gatherings, food (Christmas ham or fried kosher yummies), singing (Silent Night or Ma’oz Tzur) and beautiful decorations (blue and white for Hanukkah). Sure, there are still many differences, but over all the two holidays are all about being together and remembering our heritages.

So much so Chrismukkah has recently become a popular tradition between interfaith households.

Flowers & Hanukkah

Christmas and Hanukkah are both celebrated with parties and family get-togethers. Don’t forget your Hanukkah decorations! Beautiful white and blue blooms are the perfect way to enhance your home for any type of Hanukkah party. Flowers also make fantastic hostess gifts! They will be able to enjoy the beautiful and fragrant flowers all Hanukkah-week long! What could be better?

Don’t forget to always use a local florist when sending flowers, or even ordering them for yourself! Flower Shop Network makes it easy with our local florist finder! What are you waiting for!?

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