/Hanukkah – Festival of Lights or Feast of Dedication (25th day of Kislev)

Hanukkah – Festival of Lights or Feast of Dedication (25th day of Kislev)

Hanukkah is a rabbinical holiday. The events marked at Hanukkah began unfolding in the year 175 bce [before the Common Era], when Greek Antiochus IV became the King of Judea, ruling from Syria. Antiochus wanted his entire empire to be Greek and ordered that all of his subjects, including the Jews, should worship the Greek gods. He further required that the Temple in Jerusalem be used for this worship. The Jews revolted against the occupying power but ten years were to pass before the Syrian army was driven from Jerusalem and the Temple could be rededicated.
According to Jewish tradition the Temple menorah, or seven-branched candelabrum (today, the national emblem of Israel), should always be alight. But, at the time, the flames had gone out and there was only a single small container of blessed oil in the Temple. However, at Hanukkah by some miracle the small amount of oil kept the Temple menorah alight for eight days, until more oil could be produced.
Hanukkah celebrations are very much focused on the Jewish home, where it is customary to mark the festival by lighting candles in a special nine-branched candelabrum called a hanukiah. On the first day the attendant, or shamash, candle and one of the Hanukkah candles are lit. The shamash is lit first and with it the first candle. To represent the growing miracle, one more candle is lit each day, until on the final day of the festival all the eight candles of the hanukiah light up the home.