Even our Sages ask this in Tractate Shabbat, so I am not offended when every non-Jew I know asks me to explain Hanukkah. This past week was a great opportunity for me to refine my spiel, so here is a short synopsis of WHY Jews celebrate Chanukah (there are many ways to spell it in English!)
Basically, it’s a 1800+ year old tradition that commemorates our successful fight for religious freedom against the Greek Army and the re-dedication of the Second Holy Temple in Jerusalem. We honour it by lighting candles for 8 nights, because after over 100 years of war we were unable to celebrate our most precious biblical holidays, Peasach and Sukkot, which are 8 days long. The Sages of our tradition decided to make up for that with a new holiday: Hanukkah, meaning “concentration” or “dedication” in Hebrew.
We also share thematic stories and eat thematic foods, but the previous points are the most important to know. Happy Holidays & I wish you much success and happiness in 2023/5783!
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