For the happiness of young and old, Hanouka "the festival of lights" lasts 8 days. During this week we light candles, we gather around sumptuous meals and we taste delicious sweet donuts. Without forgetting the gifts to spoil the children!
What do Jews commemorate on Hanukkah? What are the rituals and customs specific to this celebration? How to celebrate Hanukkah in 2022 ? We tell you everything in this article!
Meaning of Hanukkah
Unlike many Jewish holidays that are biblical, Hanukkah is a holiday established by the Talmud. It celebrates an important event in our history.
To fully understand the history of Hanukkah , one must go back to the year 165 BCE.
At that time, Judea was ruled by the Greek king Antiochus IV. The latter seeking to unify his people, desecrated the temple of Jerusalem to impose the ancient Greek religion: Hellenism. Many Jews who tried to revolt were massacred.
A family of Jewish resistance fighters, the Maccabees, managed to fight off the king's armies and retake the temple. They cleaned up the desecrated Temple of Jerusalem, and inaugurated it under the name “Hannukat Habait”, hence the name of the holiday of Hanukkah. Hanukkah means “inauguration” or “edification”.
Hanukkah therefore commemorates the victory of the transmission of Judaism in the face of oppression and the prohibition of worship.
The dates of Hanukkah 2022
In the Hebrew calendar, Hanukkah lasts 8 days. The festivities begin on 25 kislev and end on 2 or 3 tevet (depending on the length of the month of kislev which lasts 29 or 30 days). This often corresponds to the month of December in the Georgian calendar.
When is hanukkah?
This year, Hanukkah takes place from December 18 to 26, 2022 . It includes one day of Shabbat, Friday, December 23, 2022.
Hanukkah ignition schedule
During Hanukkah, we also celebrate a miracle : that of the vial.
Indeed, the story goes that after the inauguration there was not enough pure oil to light the Menorah of the temple.
The priests found only a small vial of oil, the contents of which were insufficient.
They decided to light it anyway and the oil burned for eight days. Pile the time they needed to produce pure oil again.
This is why the menorah is lit for 8 days. It is a way of commemorating this divine miracle. But also a way to celebrate the victory of light over darkness. Hanukkah reminds us to always keep a glimmer of hope even in the most difficult times.
To find out what time to light the Hanukkah candles, you can follow our link to https://www.consistoire.org/calendrier/
As a reminder, Hanouka is a post-biblical celebration established by the Talmud (and not the Torah). It is therefore less important than other holidays such as Shabbat or Rosh Hashanah. There is therefore no obligation to rest during the week of Hanukkah. Everyone can therefore go about their usual activities.
The only obligatory ritual is the lighting of Hanukkah candles accompanied by its blessings. The other rituals are customs and traditions specific to our culture.
The lighting of Chanukiah
The lighting of Hanukkah candles can be done before sunset after the Mincha prayer or at nightfall. Beyond customs, the most important thing is that the whole family is reunited during this sacred ritual.
Every evening, the girls and women of the house light the candles.
Arrange the candles from right to left and light them from left to right, adding an extra candle each night.
To light them, a ninth candle, the shamach , is used, which is attached to a branch at the side or in the middle (depending on the hanukiah) but always above the eight main candles.
After lighting, Chanukiah candles should burn for at least half an hour after dark.
There is one exception, however: on Fridays, the Hanukkah lights are lit before the Shabbat candles.
There are three prayers in the form of blessing. These are recited by the householder or eldest boy when lighting the Menorah.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיוְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר חֲנֻכָּה:
"Baruch Ata Ado-nai Elo-henu Melech Haolam Asher Kideshanu Bemitsvotav Vetsivanu Lehadlik Ner Chanukah"
Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to turn on the Chanukah lights.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁעָשָׂה נִסִּים לַאֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם בִּזְמַן הַזֶּה:
"Barou'h Ata Ado-nai Elo-hénou Mélè'h Haolam Chéassa Nissim Laavoténou Bayamime Hahème, Bizmane Hazé"
Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the Universe, who did miracles for our fathers in those days, in this time.
On the first evening of the feast, the following blessing is added:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָֽינוּ וקִיְּמָנוּ והִגִּיעָנוּ לִזְמַן הַזֶּה:
"Barou'h Ata Ado-nai Elo-hénou Mélè'h Haolam Chéhé'heyanou Vekiyemanou Vehiguianou Lizmane Hazé"
Blessed are You, L-rd our Gd, King of the Universe, who made us live, exist and come to this moment.
It is not obligatory to have a festive meal on Hanukkah but the tradition is that we meet around festive dinners. This is an opportunity to share Torah songs and stories.
During the Hanukkah meal, it is customary to eat foods fried in oil which recall the miracle of the vial. Among these fried dishes we find potato latke or sufganiot, famous Israeli donuts with jam.
The Friday Hanukkah meal which corresponds to Shabbat is often more substantial. The menu is usually composed of beef or chicken and accompanied by pastries and sweets for dessert.
Hanukkah customs are passed down from generation to generation in the most practicing families as well as traditionalist families. Although each family has its own traditions, some are universal.
Donuts are the star delicacy of the Hanukkah holiday. They are fried in oil in commemoration of the miracle of the vial and eaten drizzled with sugar or garnished with jam. Yum !
Here is a delicious Hanukkah donut recipe that will delight the taste buds of the whole family:
- 50 g of baker's yeast
- ¼ glass of lukewarm water
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ glass of water
- ½ glass of orange juice
- 1 pinch of salt
- 3 tbsp margarine
- 1 tbsp oil
- 4 glasses of flour
- ⅓ cups of sugar
- Dissolve yeast, lukewarm water and 2cc of sugar in a bowl.
- Leave to rest for a few minutes then add the rest of the ingredients and knead until you obtain a smooth dough.
- Leave to rest for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
- Roll out the dough with it, keeping it about 1cm thick.
- Leave to rest for another 30 minutes.
- Divide the dough into balls of equal size and fry.
- Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.
- Enjoy your lunch !
Gifts to children
For children, Hanukkah is synonymous with the “distribution of gifts”. Even if it is not an obligation, it is a strongly encouraged practice.
Symbolically, it is a way of giving back to Jewish children the possessions that the Greeks stole from them millennia ago.
Also, the holiday being very close to the Christian Christmas party, the children will not feel disadvantaged compared to their school friends.
Regarding the nature of the gifts, they can have a spiritual dimension specific to the Hanukkah holiday such as spinning tops, books or even strategy games.
The spinning top game
The spinning top is the favorite game of adults and children during the Hanukkah holiday. Behind this activity hides a beautiful symbolic meaning.
At the time, the Greeks had forbidden the study of Torah. But the Jewish children continued to study it in secret. They hid religious texts and pretended to play spinning tops when checking Greek patrols.
The Chanukah spinning top has 4 facets. On each of them is inscribed a Hebrew letter: Noun, Gimel, Hey, China . These letters mean “Ness Gadol Haya Cham” which can be translated as: “A great miracle happened there.”
The spinning top game is played as follows:
- Chocolates, sweets or coins are distributed to all participants.
- Each participant places a coin or treat in a jar.
- A person spins the top.
- If the spinning top stops showing the Noun, it does not win but does not lose either.
- If it's Guimel, he wins the entire pot.
- If it's Hey he gets half the pot
- If it's Chin, he must add a coin or a treat to the pot.
- The game continues until one of the participants has won all the loot.
To console the winners, consolation prizes are distributed. So there really aren't any losers and everyone is sure to have a great time.
Hanukkah Money: Hanukkah Guelt
During Hanukkah, it is customary to give gifts in the form of pocket money to children. This custom is called Dmei Hanukkah (in Hebrew) or Hanukkah Gelt (in Yiddish).
Money can be distributed on any Hanukkah night (except Shabbat). It is also possible to give guelt every evening of the week.
Hanukkah Gelt rewards good deeds such as learning Torah or good grades in school. In addition to amplifying the festive nature of Hanukkah, it is an opportunity to introduce them to the importance of Tzedakah (charity).
Each Jewish family has its own traditions. Some will prefer to offer several small gifts and others a single large gift or even money.
In our family, when the children were small, they were entitled to a present every evening. All the surprises were placed in a room where we met after the lighting of the candles so that everyone could choose a present. It was a very friendly moment and kept the joy of Hanukkah going throughout the week.
Today, we have replaced gifts with Hanukkah Gelt , which they use to fund their young adult projects.
And you, how do you usually celebrate Hanukkah? Share with us in comments your best anecdotes and memories related to the festival of lights.
The entire Ô-Judaisme team wishes you a bright and happy Hanukkah!