This calendar listing is intended to provide information about the named cultural/religious observation and is not intended as an actual campus event. If a campus event is associated with this observance, it will be listed separately on the master calendar.
This holiday, often misunderstood as the “Jewish Christmas” since it occurs in December, commemorates the victory of the Jewish people, led by the Maccabee family, over the Syrian Greeks in 165 B.C.E. This victory marked the end of a three-year period of religious persecution, restored Jewish independence, and ensured the survival of monotheism (belief in one God). According to legend, when the Jews returned to cleanse their Temple, which had been defiled by pagan worship, they discovered only enough consecrated oil to keep the holy lamp burning for one day. However, the oil miraculously lasted eight days, the time needed to secure a new supply. Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting a candle on each of the eight days of celebration. On the first night, one candle is lit in a branched candlestick called a menorah, and an additional candle is lit each night until the eighth night. This ceremony has given the holiday the additional name of “Festival of Lights.” Hanukkah is joyfully celebrated. Special Hebrew hymns, including “Rock of Ages,” are sung, family members exchange gifts, and children play with a dreidel, a four-sided top inscribed with the Hebrew letters for “a great miracle happened there.” Potato pancakes, or latkes, are a traditional food treat, with the oil used for cooking recalling the oil in the sacred lamp.
Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: A four-sided top for spinning, called a dreidel, is popular for playing various Hanukkah games. Potato pancakes, called latkes, are a very popular food that can be found in many supermarkets or delicatessens.