Culture & Technology

What is Hanukkah and When is it Celebrated?

Hanukkah lighting menorah

Nine-branched candelabrum lit


Chanukah? Hanukkah? Hannukah? It’s not easy to pronounce or write this name correctly but most of us know what it stands for. We have heard a lot about the Jewish holiday and still, there is so much behind its name.

What is the Hanukkah story? How and when is it celebrated? Do people exchange gifts? We are here to tell you more about the holiday and answer all these questions.


Hanukkah candles and a Christmas tree in the back



Hanukkah is a Jewish, wintertime holiday celebrated with special prayers, fried foods and nightly menorah lighting. It is an eight-day Festival of Lights. The word Chanukah in Hebrew means “dedication”. The holiday is named like that because it celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple.


When Is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah candles and sweets


Hanukkah starts on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. The holidays generally coincided with the month of December (late November and the end of December) although the precise dates change every year. Hanukkah continues for eight days. In 2018 the holiday ran from Dec. 2-10, in 2017 it took place from Dec. 12-20, in 2016 Dec 24 to Jan 1 and so on.


What are Hanukkah traditions?

Traditional Hanukkah jelly donuts


The traditional foods for the holiday are fried in oil since the Hanukkah miracle involved oil. Typical dishes are the potato pancake called latke garnished with sour cream or apple sauce and donuts filled with jelly called sufganya.


Hanukkah lighting menorah


The lighting of the Menorah is another very important tradition. A menorah or chanukkiyah is a candleholder with nine branches. Lit on each night of the eight-day Hanukkah celebrations, its ninth branch is called shamash and is used to hold the candle that lights up the other eight candles.


Traditional Hanukkah chocolate coins


Another tradition for the holiday is for the kids to receive gelt from their parents. These are chocolate coins covered in foil. Sometimes relatives exchange actual coin money as Hanukkah gifts. The story behind this tradition is very interesting. According to the legend the Jews minted national coins to celebrate their freedom after their victory and this is where the tradition stems from.




The dreidel games are also traditional Hannukkah fun. Each dreidel has letters in Hebrew on them and they represent the words: “A great miracle happened here” referring to the miracle of the oil.


What are the Hanukkah Decorations?

Elegant table decoration with Hanukkah menorah


The traditional color palette of the holiday decorations is very symbolic and it consists of blue, white, silver and gold. The menorah, dreidels, paper chains, wreaths and the Star of David are some very traditional Hanukkah decorative pieces.


Hanukkah lights


Although we did not find a definitive answer on how to pronounce the name of the holiday correctly, for sure we know that it is a celebration filled with beautiful meaning and spirit. With the holiday season in full swing, we would like to wish everyone celebrating or showing their appreciation for the holiday – Happy Hanukkah!



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