For the first time since Hanukkah, which begins Dec. 6, 2001, the December feast’s schedule has gotten shifted with a five-week holiday period starting Dec. 10. It’s the longest Hanukkah celebrations on record.
Or not. Hanukkah, which is known as the Festival of Lights, is actually six days long this year, making a total of eight days from the “Day of the Queen” to the “Day of the King.” Though the Jewish holiday commemorates the ancient miracle of being light enough to defeat an enemy by lighting seven lamp oil lamps, here’s a look at the history of Hanukkah.
2:08 a.m.: The two names Jews give to this time span are “the time of the two hamotzi” and “the day of the two miracles.” According to the Holy Torah, which the Talmud says was born through divine intervention, the time of the two is similar to other creation nights, but marks the exact time when Moses commands the Israelites to flee from the Egyptian army. This date tells us that God accepted God’s creation and revealed how everything is connected, including Adam and Eve and lighting lamps.
Dec. 10: Not since the two moons have occurred at this time, meaning it’s official Hanukkah. Another way to measure its length is to compare it to the 8th day of the Roman festival of Saturnalia, but that could have different roots because the first occasion falls in the 8th year of a 12-year cycle. The entire holiday, which begins during Jewish High Holy Days, commemorates freedom from the nearly 4,000-year period of Israeli and Syrian rule. Every year, this holiday begins on a Friday. If you want to celebrate on Hanukkah later in December, after the new moon, it begins on Saturday.
Dec. 17: This anniversary marks the exact moment when Maccabee (Yitzhak Rabin Ha’Eirwin Ben Israel) and his men took to the hills to take back Jerusalem and the Temple. By that time, all the surrounding villages had been taken over by local soldiers, but the Maccabees didn’t know the Greeks were plotting to restore religion to the Temple. When they caught sight of their rivals, they knew that they would have to act to stop them. To keep the Greeks away, they made a deal: two spies would pass on vital information, but they’d have to carry the loot for a long time.
Dec. 22: With the timing of the two moons, this is the beginning of the seven-day-long festival of Hanukkah. One of the eight days of the holiday is called the Eight Days of Freedom, which is thought to relate to the four senses – sight, hearing, taste and touch. Then, because seven grains of oil are enough to continue the lamps, the miracle occurred. The second miracle happened when Judah Maccabee lit the Chanukah candles – which everyone remembers at this time – on a small flame in the temple. When it got very hot, he didn’t know they were too small. They spent 40 years burning for all this time without burning out.
Dec. 25: The day of the “Redemption” in Hebrew. The beginning of Hanukkah: four nights of blazing flames and 27 candles, representing a miraculous and spiritual return. It’s when the Maccabees took the town of Bethulia back from the Greeks, who ruled Israel at the time. It was “the sultans’ first defeat,” according to a translator. The holiday, which continues through the last day of the eight-day festival in December, was also the day on which the last grain of oil in the “Redeemer’s lamp” burned for a full nine days. The miracle took place at the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The Israelites were seeking to re-obtain their religious rights as well as victory over the Greeks.