Celebrating Hanukkah or Chanukkah

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Celebrating Hanukkah or Chanukkah. A collection of Hanukkah related recipes, crafts and articles at FabulousLiving.com.

Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, is celebrated with eight days of presents, games, songs and feasting. While Hanukkah's origins are of a minor festival, it has become a major celebration, especially for Jews in North America.

History of Hanukkah
In 167 BC, the Greeks set on converting the world to their customs and religion. Some Jews converted voluntarily while others resisted. Following seven years of conflict, a small group of Jewish soldiers known as the Maccabees overcame the larger and better-equipped Syrian army. Upon their return home, they found their Holy Temple desecrated by the soldiers they had defeated.

Chanukkah PlateThe Maccabees cleaned the Temple and threw out the Greek idols. When it came to the lighting of the Holy Eternal Lights, they only found enough to last for one day, but they lit the lights anyway. It would take eight days of travel to procure more holy oil for the lights, but a miracle occurred when the oil that should have burned for only one day instead lasted for eight days and eight nights.

The victory of this small, steadfast group against the larger, more powerful army, as well as the miracle of the oil are the reasons Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days and eight nights.

Eight gifts are traditionally given over the course of the eight nights of Hanukkah; one on each night, after the lighting of the Menorah. Sometimes money or chocolate gelt is given alongside the gifts or as gifts themselves.

Hanukkah Crafts
These Hanukkah votive candle holders are easy to make and mots of fun. Click here for the simple instructions!

Hanukkah Votive

Hand Made Hanukkah Cards

Add a personal, handmade touch to your Hanukkah gifts and greetings with these easy to make cards. One rubber stamp image can be used for all these Hanukah card designs (and many more). Click for photo instructions.

FreeKidsCrafts.com -- Hanukkah Origami Candy Dish complete with easy to follow folding instructions.

About.com Hanukkah Crafts and Activities for Families -- Crafts, games, recipes and free printable coloring book pages.

wine at hanukkah, wine and food parings Wine at Hanukkah

Latkes are the most traditional Hanukkah food as the fried potato pancakes are a reminder of the oil that burned for eight days instead of one.

Hanukkah Traditions

The Menorah
hannukahEach night of Hanukkah at sundown comes the lighting of the menorah, called a Hannukiah in Hebrew. The menorah has nine branches, four on each side and one in the center. In Orthodox religion, the Hanukiah's branches are level with one another, except for the center branch which is called the Shamash. The Shamash, which means servant in Hebrew, is lit first and it is then used to light the other candles.

Except for the Shamish, on the first night of Hanukkahonly the candle to the far right is lit. On the second night, the two right-most candles are lit. Throughout the celebration, the Shamash is always lit first, then the newest candle, then the others from left to right. This continues until the eighth night, when all eight candles plus the Shamash are lit. Prayers are said with the lighting of the candles.

Dreidel Games
The dreidel is a traditional toy used to play Hanukkah games. Resembling a four-sided top, each of the four Hebrew letters on the sides of the dreidel stands for a word, which translates to "A Great Miracle Happened There." The letters also indicate play of the game.

To play the game, a pile of coins (often chocolate coins or gelt) is placed between the players. The first person spins the dreidel. A spin of Nun means the player does nothing. A spin of Gimmel means the player takes everything from the pot. A spin of Hay means the player should take half of the pot. A spin of Shin means that the player must add an object to the pot. When there are no objects or only one is left, each player adds one to the pot. If an odd number of objects are in the pot and someone rolls a Hay, half plus one is taken. When one person has the entire starting pot, the game is over