Hanukkah is a very popular Jewish festival which is also known as Festival of Lights and it’s celebrated in the memory of the second Jewish temple located in the present day Israeli capital Jerusalem. The word “Hanukkah” means dedication, this festival of lights is celebrated for 8 days and it starts on the Kiselv 25 in the Jewish calendar or you can say in December at the same time.
Hanukkah 2020 will begin in the evening of
Thursday- 10 December 2020
Hanukkah will ends in the evening of
Friday- 18 December 2020
It’s a very special festival for the Jewish people; it has the same importance as Christmas for Christians and Eid for Muslims. During the 8 day celebration, a candle is lit in the menorah every night. The first candle is lit on the first night of Hanukkah and then the number increased as the days are past. During the festival celebration, a special prayer is also said for thanking GOD for all the blessings along with a Jewish hymn which is sung in the background.
Hanukkah Candle-Lighting Time
The candles or also known as Hanukkah lights are lighted for at least half-hour after the sunset or when it gets dark. There are a total of nine candles and they are lighted one by one on each day of the event. There is also a specific name for each candle, while each candle also carries religious importance.
There is a ninth candle called Shammash which is also known as servant candle because it’s used to light up the other candles.
Shammash is kept in a higher position as compared to other candles in the candle stand.
What is the Story of Hanukkah?
There is a long story behind this Hanukkah Jewish festival of lights. It goes back to 200BC (Before the birth of Jesus), in Seleucid Empire which ruled under the Greek law, Israel was a small state located in this empire under the command of the king of Syria. In 171BCE, there was a king named Antiochus who was a strict follower of Greek ways, he also wanted the Jews to follow the Greek laws but only a few Jews accepted his order and most of them prefer to remain Jewish.
There was a man who bribed King Antiochus to become the highest Priest, his brother was already Priest but he wanted to overthrow him through unfair means. Somehow, he stole the gold made objects from the Jewish Temple at that time to pay the bribe that he promised to King Antiochus of Syria. One day, King Antiochus was returning from a lost battle, he stopped in Jerusalem and punished the innocent Jewish people to satisfy his anger of losing a battle.
He burned thousands of houses, killed thousands of people, and deprived many families. After killing the innocent people, he tried to enter the Jewish temple and tool all the gold from the temple. He also placed a statue of Greek God inside the temple that resembled the face of Antiochus. On the 25 Kislev, which is now a starting date of Hanukkah, he ordered to demolish the sacred places inside the temple and destroyed the Holy scrolls of Jews.
Moreover; he also banned the practicing of Jewish Religion and strict punishments were announced for those who do not obey the orders of the King that include the death sentence of the entire family.
Later on, some Jewish people along with a Jewish Priest named Mattathias refused to obey the orders and killed hundreds of Syrian soldiers. He starts the freedom movement and even after his death, thousands of freedom fighters joined his cause. After his death, his son Maccabee was commander-in-chief of all the freedom fighters, they saw many hardships in their struggle, and finally, they defeated the Syrians in an open battle.
The Jews finally got back Jerusalem to their control where they were allowed to practice their religion without any fear or oppression. The Jewish temple was again constructed on the 25 Kislev.
It’s a complete story of Hanukkah which is narrated by several historians.
How Christmas and Hanukkah Are Linked With Each Other?
Well, there is a strong bond between these two festivals, as we have discussed above that on the 25th of Kislev, the Jewish Temple was dedicated again. The early Church also chose December 25th as the exact date of Christmas because they took over the birthday of Zeus which was a Greek God. If you want to know about christmas you can read All About Christmas.
There is also another reason behind the association of Christmas with Hanukkah, in many countries like the United States, Jews and Christians happily live and celebrate each other’s event together, as both events are celebrated in the same month of December, so everyone loves to prepare for their festival by helping each other. In the Holiday season, Both Jews and Christians proudly invite each other and celebrate their Holy Festivals with memorable gatherings.
What is the Hanukkah Celebration Date in 2020?
As we have discussed earlier that Hanukkah starts on the 25 Kislev according to the Hebrew Calendar. It lasts for 8 days, however; in 2020; the Hanukkah Festival will begin on the evening of Thursday, 10 December 2020 and it will end on the evening of Friday, 18 December 2020. Remember, these are the correct dates of Hanukkah, you can trust these dates and start the preparation of Hanukkah according to your celebration way.
We hope you got all your answers for why is Hanukkah celebrated and who celebrates Hanukkah. We have explained the religious and historic background behind this Jewish Festival of Lights along with its link with Christmas. If you are still confused about celebrating Hanukkah or you are looking to buy relevant stuff such as Hanukkah candles, don’t hesitate to comment below, we will try our utmost to answer all your questions.
You can also find more information about Hanukkah related to celebration ways, Hanukkah traditions, and many other things on several online Jewish forums where you can directly chat with Jewish scholars. We hope this Festival will bring happiness to your house as you will finally get a chance to spend some quality time with your friends and family out of a busy routine.