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When Is Hanukkah

Hanukkah Menorah or Hanukkiyah

Hanukkah Menorah or Hanukkiyah

What Is Hanukkah

The Festival Of Lights

In Hebrew, Hanukkah—or Chanukah—means, "to dedicate." Technically speaking, it is an eight day celebration that begins on the 25th day of the Hebrew month, Kislev. This generally corresponds to late November and late December on the secular calendar. Because the dates shift annually on the secular calendar, some find it difficult to keep track of just "when" Hanukkah begins. To help with this issue, at the bottom of this article I have provided you with a ten year table that defines years 2012 through 2021 for Hanukkah start and stop dates. We Jews call it Hanukkah, to remind us of the re-dedication of the holy temple in Jerusalem following the defeat of the Zeus worshiping Syrian-Greek ruler Antiochus, in 165 B.C.E. You can discover more about the Hanukkah story, the menorah, the dreidel, and why each has become such a prolific icon for the Jewish people by reading further.

What Is The Menorah

What Does The Menorah Symbolize

The Menorah is a symbol of the miracle of the oil. After defeating the Jews in war, the Greeks had defiled the first Jewish temple by practicing animal (swine) sacrifices and worshiping foreign Greek gods. After many years, the Maccabees reacquired their land from the Greeks, but it would be necessary to purify the temple of the many disgraces that had taken place there. They would have to burn the temple's oil in the temple's menorah for a number of days; eight days to be exact.

The burning of  Hanukkah candles signifies the miracle of the temple oil.

The burning of Hanukkah candles signifies the miracle of the temple oil.

The Jews Needed Eight Days Of Temple Oil

When time came to burn the temple's oil, they found only enough oil to burn for a single day; surely this would not be enough. These dedicated people continued with the purification ritual anyway; only to discover, to much surprise, that the oil did in fact burn for all of those eight days after all. This is known as the miracle of the Hanukkah oil. It is the reason for the annual celebration where Jews light a special menorah—hanukkiyah—for eight consecutive days as a reminder to all who observe Hanukkah, that the festival of lights reflects the miracle which occurred in the first temple.

Proper Lighting Of The Menorah

Always start at far right, use the ninth candle to light all of the other eight candles—the shamash, or attendant—is the ninth or middle candle, and is always lit first. The shamash is not counted among the eight candles of Hanukkah. It is customary to light the menorah right at or soon after sundown. Should Hanukkah happen to fall on Shabbot, it is very important to light the Hanukkiyah just before sundown. Light one candle a day, and recite prayers accordingly for each of the eight days.

Blessing On The Menorah (Audio) - Text and prayers

Learn How To Light The Menorah Candles For Hanukkah

What You Think Really Does Matter!

What Is A Dreidel

The History Of The Dreidel

A dreidel is a spinning top that became an important Jewish icon in the second century. In 165 B.C.E., the Greek army—ruled by King Antiochus—lorded over the holy land that once belonged to the Jews. Prior to the Maccabees taking back this land, the King created laws that made studying a majority of the mitzvot (commandments) and all of the Torah punishable by death. Due to these laws, and because no Jew worth his/her weight in shekels would survive without the great words of the Torah to study, they had to find ways to study in covert fashion. This is where the dreidel comes in.

Hide The Torah, Spin The Dreidel

When the youngest members of the tribe would gather in groups to learn and study the Torah with the elders, they had to be very careful because the king's army would regularly patrol the outlying areas where the Jews resided, mostly the outer forest areas. Should the elders or children hear the approaching army while studying the Torah, they would quickly dispatch their books and pull out a dreidel from a pocket or satchel. This would give the soldiers the impression that the group of kids were simply being supervised while playing a spinning top game we call "spinning the dreidel." The dreidel top, and the game we recognize today, is a tribute to these remarkable efforts of our Jewish ancestors to honor the teaching of the Jewish children, as well as themselves, with the words found in the Torah.

10 Years of Hanukkah Dates (2012 Through 2021)

Information derived from the Farmer's Almanac



December 8th

December 16th


November 27th

December 5th


December 16th

December 24th


December 6th

December 14th


December 24th

January 1st


December 13th

December 20th


December 3rd

December 10th


December 23rd

December 30th


December 11th

December 18th


November 29th

December 6th

Where Did The Jewish-Roman War Take Place (165 B.C.E.)

Comments for "When Is Hanukkah And Its Traditions"

cardelean from Michigan on December 08, 2012:

Great hub India! I have always loved the story of Hanukkah. This year as part of our Advent celebration, the kids and I will be reading some stories about Hanukkah and learning about the celebration. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on December 08, 2012:

Sharkye11~ Thrilled you learned about Hanukkah by reading the hub. Thanks for the hublove and for stopping by!

Scroll to Continue

Happy Hanukkah~

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on December 08, 2012:

editorsupremo~ Thank you for commenting. For those who are interested in knowing when Hanukkah starts and ends for the next ten years, a ten year chart is found within the article! There is a lot more about Hanukkah that I did not explain in this article!

Cheers and Happy Hanukkah~

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on December 08, 2012:

Denise Handlon~ So glad you found a little info you didn't already know about! Happy Hanukkah, my dear friend!

Shalom and HubHugs~

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on December 08, 2012:

Daisy Mariposa~ Happy Hanukkah to you too, my friend!

Big HubHugs~

Jayme Kinsey from Oklahoma on December 08, 2012:

Beautiful hub! I knew about how these things were used, but not an in depth history of how they came to be so important. Voting up and sharing!

editorsupremo from London, England on December 08, 2012:

I enjoyed your article and explanation of Hannukkah .I now know what it means and can converse with knowledge about Hannukkah with my Jewish colleagues. Thanks.

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on December 08, 2012:

India-Thank you for writing this. Although there are many resources to investigate the meaning behind the symbols of Hanukkah, I love the way you simplify the explanation. I've been aware of the symbols and the story behind the Menorah, I was not aware of the story behind the Dreidel, so that was new information for me. Beautiful job, (as always) with the thoroughness of the resources available here, including that 10 year table. Great idea. :) Up/U/I and shared

Today is December 8th: Happy Hanukkah, my friend.

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on December 08, 2012:


Happy Hanukkah! Happy Chanukah!

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on November 28, 2012:

RTalloni~ I am so glad you appreciated the video...these prayers always bring back such wonderful Hanukkah memories. I am so grateful that shared verses from The Old Testament, a gracious gift on this day. I am praying for peace in Jerusalem every minute these days. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and beautiful words.

HubHugs and Shalom~

RTalloni on November 28, 2012:

It is always interesting to read about the history of Hanukkah, as well as other Jewish holidays. We read in the Old Testament, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem" and the command comes with a promise. One commentator writes, "Let her unanimity never be disturbed; let her prosperity ever be on the increase!" Enjoyed the video very much, thank you for including it.

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on November 15, 2012:

@Happyboomernurse~ So nice to find you in the comments. I can't tell you how many times I have been asked, "when is Hanukkah this year?" along with, "What is Hannukkah?" To which I became motivated to put together something quick and easy to understand regarding both. Having a ten year calendar of the dates hopefully will help keep everyone in the 8-day loop. ;) I sure appreciate you making it by!


@Mhatter99~ With that fantastic idea in mind, every Jewish woman just started making a grocery list for the holiday feast. ;) Thanks for commenting, sir.


@Nell Rose! A real joy to see you shared your thoughts on the hub with me. Really glad you were able to learn a little something about the festival of lights and the dreidel, by reading it. Thank you for making this part of your day, ma'am.

Super Big HubHugs~

Nell Rose from England on November 15, 2012:

Hi K9, I really enjoyed reading this, I learned something new about the dreidel, and that's something I had never heard about, fascinating stuff, and voted up! nell

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on November 14, 2012:

Thank you for sharing. I would suggest the inexperienced to find a Jewish family to adopt them for a time. :-)

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on November 14, 2012:

Well written primer about Hannukah traditions and the history and meaning behind the Festival of Lights.

I particularly liked the fact that you included the 10 years of Hanukkah dates.

Voted up across the board except for funny.

Hub Hugs,


India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on November 14, 2012:

Daisy Mariposa~ Thanks! That is exactly what I was going for. I appreciate your support.

HubHugs, my friend~

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on November 14, 2012:


What a great article! You covered all the key points in a very easy-to-understand manner.

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