Hanukkah — what is it? History and traditions of Hanukkah
Every year in the Jewish world from the 25th of Kislev until the 2-3rd of Tevet is celebrated a great holiday – Hanukkah. What is "sanctification" and "update", which gave the name of this tradition? Symbolizing the custom of lighting candles, tasty treats and a celebration that lasts eight days? Try to understand.
What does "Hanukkah"
The word "Hanukkah" in Hebrew consists of two parts. First, "Han" literally means "they made up the rest." The second, "ka" – a combination of letters, numerical value of which is twenty-five. It relates to the military and spiritual victory of the Jews over the Greeks, which occurred the 25th of the month Kislev (in the Jewish calendar) in the year 164 BC.
The name of the holiday "Hanukkah" is derived from the word "laanat", meaning "dedication" ("sanctification"). This day was re-consecrated on the altar in the temple of Jerusalem, which is exactly 3 years before this day desecrated by the pagans. In our days are called Hanukkah, "the Festival of lights."
The story of Hanukkah
Traditionally, Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days. It begins with the 25th day of Kislev, which usually falls in November or December. The event, which is the beginning of the story of Hanukkah happened in the time of Alexander the Great (of Macedon), when the territory of present-day Israel was part of Syria, the former, in turn a province of the Greek Empire. For a long time the Jews and the Greeks found a common language. Law-abiding Jews obeyed the rules established by the conquerors, and the successors of the Macedonian attitude towards other religions is quite tolerable. However, everything changed when the Syrian throne was Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
With fire and sword, he tried to impose on subject Nations of the Hellenic religion. Under pain of death, Jews were forbidden to circumcise, to study Torah, to observe the laws of Shabbat. In the temple of Jerusalem at the behest of the king were arranged, the altar of Zeus chief of the gods of the Hellenistic Pantheon.
As a result, Modine, a small settlement near Jerusalem, a rebellion broke out. It was headed by one of the elders of the settlement, a Jew Mattiyahu, and after his death, which occurred a year later, the rebels continued to lead by his son, Judah Maccabee.
In total, the struggle of the Jews for liberation from Syrian oppression lasted twenty-five years. However, three years after the start of the uprising Maccabeu managed to liberate Jerusalem. First, the winners began to put in order the desecration of the temple. The idols were thrown out, rebuilt the broken altar and the Golden menorah (the temple lamp), which was stolen temporarily put a regular iron.
However, when it came time to light the menorah in front of the altar, it was found that all the oil before the temple was desecrated. The net had only a single tiny jar, which would suffice only for one day of burning. And for making new oil would take eight days...
And yet the menorah lit. When it happened, a miracle occurred: the light mysteriously burned it for eight days! The Church was consecrated again. And now in honor of this event each year is the celebration of Hanukkah.
What a chanukkiyah
Now that we know the historical meaning of Hanukkah what a "Chanukia" will also be an easy guess. Is a traditional stand for the Hanukkah candles, which symbolizes the firmness of spirit and victory of good over evil.
Form a menorah with eight lamps. They symbolize the miracle that occurred during the Maccabee victory over the Greeks. In ancient times it was customary to hang her on the street, to the left of the front door. Later, however, in connection with the danger of fire, the menorah was commanded to light the inside, placing it on the windowsill so that the candle light reminded the neighbors and random passers-by about what the holiday of Chanukah.
These lamps are made of any material: tin, marble, brass, porcelain and iron. Those who are richer, can afford Hanukkah from gold or silver. Their sizes also are different from a very impressive, what the first day of Hanukkah is usually lit near the government buildings, to modest and small, which usually burn in these days in all Jewish homes.
The order of ignition of lights
In accordance with the custom, common to the most widely, the order of ignition of the festive candles these days has its own strict rules.
The very first night is usually lit the candle to the extreme right. On the second night of the stand adds another candle to the left of the one delivered yesterday. First light a new candle is added, then move to the right. This procedure is repeated every night: first, add one candle, then light all one by one, starting with her, from left to right.
As supposed to light the candles
You should also know in the tradition of the holiday of Hanukkah, what is the "Shamash". This special service candle, which either separated from the other eight candles, either placed above them. From the SHAMMASH is lit every night all the main candles that are on the same level and at a small distance from each other.
According to tradition, light the eight candles should be used exclusively for the reminder of the miracle, which began with the story of Hanukkah. They can not be used for any other purpose. Because these candles should be lit from the SHAMMASH, but not from one another.
Hanukkah: traditions ignition lights
Hanukkah candles are supposed to light up in the house where they live, and in the room where you usually eat. Lamp (Chanukia) is installed in a conspicuous place in the room.
Begin to light the Chanukah lights, usually in the evening after sunset (according to another report, after the appearance of the sky the first stars). If for some reason this time it was not possible, permitted to light and say the blessings before that time, while you are awake all the family members. One who does not have time to do this before dawn to light the fires on this day not to.
In the last festive evening lit all eight candles. As a rule, they are supposed to burn for half an hour after the appearance of the stars. Thus, in those homes where candles are lit right after the sun, they will Shine at least fifty minutes.
At a time when it should light the Hanukkah lights is forbidden to eat, drink or do anything.
Decided to candle lit women – they are only witnessing how their kindles husband or father, and answer, "Amen!" in response to the words of blessing which he pronounces.
Boys start to learn the mystery of lighting the Hanukkah lights, as a rule, from the time when they become able to light a candle and say a blessing.
A traditional treat for Hanukkah
A hearty meal, accompanied by traditional songs and stories of miracles performed in those days by God to the ancestors — that's what Hanukkah is all about. The Jews of this holiday is considered to be fun and joyful, so these days forbidden to fast or mourn the dead.
In the days of Hanukkah are supposed to cook traditional dishes. This is latkes – potato pancakes and sweet doughnuts with jam or marmalade (sufganiya). Method of cooking – roasting in vegetable oil – also is a reminder of the miracle, which is based on the story of Hanukkah.
In addition, these days eat dairy dishes – especially prepared with cheese. As a sauce, most commonly used sour cream.
The customs of Hanukkah celebration
In recent decades, more and more people worldwide know about what is Hanukkah. The Jews had a tradition to light huge Hanukkah at the city square, and tourists who visited Israel in the days when celebrated this holiday, have the opportunity to examine the ancient customs.
Interestingly, in the days of Hanukkah are not forbidden to work. But women, following the ancient custom, as a rule, do not work, until the burning of the festive fixtures.
During all eight days of the festival in each of the prayers is supposed to insert special words of gratitude to, and during morning prayers read aloud excerpts from the Torah.
In the days of Hanukkah in Israeli schools come the holidays. Traditionally, the night of the fourth or fifth day of the celebration, parents often give children toys or money, which they can spend on their own. However, some of these funds are supposed to donate to charity.
There is another curious custom, which is famous for Hanukkah. What is a "dreidel" or "svivon" must be known to every Jewish child. This is a special four-sided spinning top, which made playing these days. Play this game, usually on small coins of the "Chanukah money", as well as sweets, apples and nuts.
In Israel, on each side of the top is written one letter in Hebrew: nun (meaning "bore" – "the miracle"), "Gimmel" ("Gadol" – "great"), "hay" ("Haya" – "was") and "drink" ("here"). On the spinning tops that children play Jewish Diaspora, the last letter is replaced with a "Shin", which means "sham" – "there" - i.e. the land of Israel.
According to legend, in the times when learning the Torah was threatened with death, Jewish children come to school with such gyroscopes, and in case of spies or enemies started with a passion to play as if it was for this here today. In our days this game was just exciting contest, employees at the same time a reminder of the past, as well as many other customs of the Jewish people.