Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration that falls around the same time as thanksgiving and Christmas. Hanukkah is also known as the “Festival of Lights” and “Festival of Dedication,” it is an eight-day Jewish holiday that commemoration the rededication of the second Holy Temple in Jerusalem during the time of the Maccabean Revolt during the 2nd Century BCE. Hanukkah lasts eight days and eight nights starting on the 25th day of Kislev. Depending on how it associates with the Gregorian calendar, which is the calendar is used today, it can occur any time from late November to Late December.
This celebration is observed by the lighting of candles on a special candelabrum. Which is a 9 branched Menorah or Hanukiah. One candle is lit every night of the holiday, while the center candle is used to light the others. The extra light is also called the shamash, or the “attendant.” The “Shamash” is said that it supplies symbolically light that might be used for some other secular purpose.
If you do not know already, Hanukkah originates from when the (second) Temple of Jerusalem only had enough oil for one night but miraculously lasted for 8 days, which is about the length of time it took at the time to press, prepare and consecrate new olive oil, which is what was used for candle light at the time.
Hanukkah is mentioned in 1 Maccabaeus and 2 Maccabeus, the first one states “For eight days they celebrated eight days they celebrated the rededication of the alter. Then Judah and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of the rededication should be observed every year for 8 days. (1 Mac. 4:56-59)”
Some people may not know all of the Hanukkah rituals if they are not part of the faith. As most people already know, you kindle the Hanukkah lights every night during the 8 days. Each candle represents one day that the oil lasted. At the time of lighting, the Hanukkah lights should stay lit for half an hour after it gets dark. Although on Friday night, this presents a problem because candles can’t be lit on the Shabbat itself. So therefore, the candles need to be lit before sunset to avoid lighting the candles on Shabbat.
There are also blessings that are done over the candles once they are lit. Jews recite 3 blessings are recited during the 8 day festival. One the first night, all three are recited but all subsequent nights, only 2 are done. The blessings are said before or after the candles are lit, depending on the family’s tradition. According to tradition, on the first night, you light the candle on the far right, then the second night, you light the one on the left, then you go back and forth every night.