The Festival of Lights
What is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah, also known as Chanukah, is a festival of lights celebrated by Jewish communities around the world. Hanukkah goes all the way back to the 2nd century BCE when the Jewish people, led by the Maccabees, revolted against the Seleucid Empire.
The festival is observed for eight nights and days to commemorate the recovery of Jerusalem and rededication of the Second Temple. This event is also associated with the miracle of the one-day supply of oil but miraculously burned for eight days.
The Menorah and the Eight Nights:
Menorah is one of the most recognisable symbols of Hanukkah. Each night during the festival, one additional candle is lit, starting with the central candle called the Shamash, which is used to light the others. The menorah symbolises the miracle of the oil lasting eight days and nights.
While rooted in ancient history, Hanukkah adapts to the modern era, incorporating contemporary elements into its celebrations. From innovative menorah designs to creative twists on traditional dishes, the festival remains dynamic, reflecting the diverse ways in which Jewish communities express their identity and joy. Fried foods are particularly popular during this celebration as the festival is about the miracle of the oil. Potato latkes (pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts) are among the most enjoyed treats during Hanukkah.
Cultural Connection and Unity:
Hanukkah serves as a source of cultural pride, celebrating the resilience, strength, and unity of the Jewish people. In a modern context, the festival fosters a sense of community, it brings everyone together to celebrate, strengthen their bonds, furthering a sense of shared identity and pride.
Hanukkah, with its luminous lights and cherished traditions, holds a special place in the hearts of those who celebrate it. This festival reminds us that the threads of the past are woven into the fabric of our present, creating a tapestry of cultural identity, resilience, and celebration. And through the act of kindling the menorah, sharing festive meals, and embracing the joy of giving, Hanukkah becomes a beacon of cultural identity and a testament to the enduring spirit of a people bound by history, tradition, and celebration.
At UK Virtual School, we have a huge diversity of cultures and faiths. As it gets colder and darker during the winter months, it’s lovely to embrace festivals that bring together our community of families. Whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah or know someone who is, we hope you have a Happy Hanukkah!