Chanukah: The Festival of Lights

A Chanukah menorah (or chanukia) (CC0 image via Wikipedia)
A Chanukah Menorah, or Chanukia (CC0 image via Wikipedia)

Chanukah, also known as the Festival of Rededication, or the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day holiday that generally falls sometime in December (in the Hebrew calendar, the 25th of Kislev). This year it starts on Sunday evening, December 2 and ends in the evening of December 10th. It celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple after the successful revolt of the Maccabees against the Seleucid Empire. To rededicate the Temple, oil was needed to relight the menorah inside, and there was very little left – only enough to burn for one day.  However, the oil that was used burned for eight days, and to celebrate this, a festival was created – Chanukah.

Latkes and applesauce (Image by Mark Mitchell via Wikimedia Commons)

Among other traditions, fried foods such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) are eaten on Chanukah to commemorate the significance of the oil.

jelly doughnut
Sufganiyot (Image by Noam Furer via Wikimedia Commons)

We at the Touro College libraries wish a Happy Chanukah to all who celebrate!

If you are interested in learning more about the traditions behind the festival of lights; check out some of Touro College Library’s books on the holiday’s history.


Jewish Virtual Library. (2014). Jewish holidays: Hanukkah – Chanukah. Retrieved from

Contributed by Carrie Levinson, Scholarly Communications Librarian.

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