Sunday marks the first day of Hanukkah, the eight day “festival of light” for the Jewish community.
By tradition, on each day of Hanukkah a new candle is lit on the nine-candle Hanukiah (as opposed to the seven-candle menorah). One candle is lit on the first day, two on the second, and so on – the ninth candle is used to light the othe eight. You probably know that already. But do you know what is behind the tradition?
In 165 B.C. a small band of Jews defeated the Syrian-Greek army and drove it out of Israel. The temple in Jerusalem had been defiled by the occupiers and in the process of rededication they discovered that only a one day supply of oil remained to light the menorah.
Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days – long enough for oil to be purified – and a holiday was born.
Today, millions of Jewish faithful celebrate Hanukkah with traditional prayers, games, food (lots of which is fried in oil), and the daily lighting of the menorah. It is a joyous time of thanksgiving, and an acknowledgement of the miraculuous oil in the temple twenty-one centuries ago.
To those who celebrate the festival of light, we wish you all the best, and Happy Hanukkah!