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Hanukkah - The Jewish Winter Holiday of Hanukkah (Hanukah)

Solstice Celebration

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Another festival connected with lights in the middle of winter, gift giving, and indulgent food is the 2000-year old holiday [www.ort.org/ort/hanukkah/history.htm] Hanukkah, literally, dedication, since Hanukkah is a celebration of the re-dedication of the Temple following a purification ritual.

Following this re-dedication, in 164 B.C., the Maccabees were planning to relight the Temple's candles, but there wasn't enough unpolluted oil to keep them burning until fresh oil could be obtained. By a miracle, the one night's worth of oil lasted eight days -- plenty of time for to obtain a new supply.

In commemoration of this event a menorah, a 9-branched candlestick, is lit each of 8 nights (using the ninth candle), amid singing and blessings. This commemoration is Hanukkah (also spelled Hanukah or Channuka / Chanukkah).

According to reader Ami Isseroff: “Channuka was originally Chag Haurim - the festival of light. This leads to the suspicion that it, too, was a solstice holiday that existed before the victory of the Maccabees, which was welded unto it.”

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