Hanukkah – The Festival of Lights

This year #Jews around the world will be celebrating #Hanukkah – an eight-day #festivalof lights which begins this year on #December the 2nd. *

Why is Hanukkah celebrated? Around 200 B.C More than 2,000 years ago in what is now called Israel, a Syrian king named Antiochus allowed the Jews who lived there to continue practicing their religion. His son, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, proved less benevolent: Ancient sources recount that he outlawed the Jewish religion and ordered the Jews to worship Greek gods. In 168 B.C., his soldiers descended upon Jerusalem, massacring thousands of people and desecrating the city’s holy Second Temple by erecting an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs within its sacred walls.

Led by the Jewish priest Mattathias and his five sons, a large-scale rebellion broke out against Antiochus and the Seleucid monarchy. When Mattathias died in 166 B.C., his son Judah, known as Judah Maccabee (“the Hammer”), took the helm; within two years the Jews had successfully driven the Syrians out of Jerusalem, relying largely on guerilla warfare tactics. Judah called on his followers to cleanse the Second Temple, rebuild its altar and light its menorah—the gold candelabrum whose seven branches represented knowledge and creation and were meant to be kept burning every night.

According to the Talmud, (the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law and theology) Judah Maccabee and the others who took part in the rededication of the Second Temple witnessed what they believed to be a miracle. Even though there was only enough untainted olive oil to keep the menorah’s candles burning for a single day, the flames continued flickering for eight nights, leaving them time to find a fresh supply. This wondrous event inspired the Jewish sages to proclaim a yearly eight-day festival.

Today, people celebrate Hanukkah for #eight #days to remember defeating the Syrians, reviving the Temple of Jerusalem and marking the miracle of the eight days that the oil burned. Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting candles on an eight-branched candelabra – called the menorah with a place for a ninth candle – called the Shamash which is used to light the others. To further commemorate this momentous occasion, Jews eat a lot of food at Hanukkah that’s been fried in oil, such as sufganiyot (deep-fried #doughnut typically filled with #strawberry #jam and other array of flavors) and latkes (fried potato pancakes).

Wishing all those who are celebrating Happy Hanukkah!

* The Jewish calendar is based on the cycles of the moon, and Hanukkah is celebrated either in November or December of each year.)

* Some contents of this article were taken from http://bit.ly/2TXE2Pi

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