Hanukkah lasts for 8 days.
It is a special time.
Each night candles are lit.
People give children coins.
They play a game with a little top.
A celebration is a happy time when people get together in honour of something special.
Different religions or countries each have their own celebrations or way of celebrating.
Hanukkah (say harn-uh-kuh) is the Festival of Lights and it takes place some time in November or December, depending on the moon.
Hanukkah, or Chanukah, is an eight day Jewish holiday. On each night of Hanukkah just before sunset one more candle is lit on a special candle holder called a menorah. The middle candle is called shamash and is used to light the others. On the first night of Hanukkah, the shamash is lit and lights one candle. On the second night the shamash is lit and is used to light two candles, and so on until the eighth night when the shamash is used to light eight candles.
Hanukkah celebrates a time hundreds of years ago when a small Jewish army won a battle against a huge army in Israel. The Jewish soldiers went to the temple but there wasn’t enough oil to burn lights in the menorah for more than a day. There was a miracle and the lights burned for eight days and eight nights.
Because of the miracle of the oil, some of the special Hanukkah foods are fried in oil.
Some special Hanukkah foods are pancakes called latkes and doughnuts with fillings like jam or cream.
At Hanukkah gifts of money are given to children and to charity.
A game is played with a very little top or spinner called a dreidel (say dray-dl). This is in honour of a time hundreds of years ago when Jewish people were not allowed to read their holy book, the Torah, or to teach children about it. Jewish children hid in caves to study the Torah. If soldiers came, the children pulled out their dreidels and pretended they were playing a game.
A dreidel has on each side a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet:
How to play the game:
Each player has 10 or 15 coins, either real or chocolate, or sweets or counters, and each puts one in the centre.
Each player takes turns to spin the dreidel. When it stops and falls over, the player reads the letter on top:
- If it is Gimel, the player wins all the pile of coins ;
- if it is Hey, the player wins half the pile;
- if it is Nun, the player wins nothing;
- if it is Shin, the player puts a coin into the pile.