PHOTOS & VIDEOS
Many families celebrate the holidays by enjoying a meal together. Latkes, or potato pancakes, are a popular Hanukkah dish. They are often served with applesauce and sour cream. Jelly doughnuts, known as sufganiyot, are also popular.
When is Hanukkah?
Jewish holidays are based on a lunisolar calendar, which is based on the movement of the sun and moon. A year on the Hebrew calendar ranges from 353 to 385 days. So, unlike Christmas, Hanukkah does not fall on the same date each year. This year, the first day of Hanukkah falls on December 17.
The Hanukkah Menorah
Menorahs were the lamps used in the ancient holy temple in Jerusalem. The original menorahs only had seven candleholders. A Hanukkah menorah has nine. During Hanukkah, it is tradition to light candles on a menorah—one for each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, and an extra one to light the others. The world’s largest Hanukkah menorah—at 32 feet high—can be found during the Festival of Lights in New York City's Central Park.
Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel
A dreidel is a popular Hanukkah toy. It is a four-sided spinning top with different Hebrew letters on each side. To play the dreidel game, players start out with the same amount of money (or candy) and they gain and lose depending on which letter turns up when they spin the top. In Hebrew, the letters form the initials of the message, “A great miracle happened there.”
The Gift of Gelt
One Hanukkah tradition is the giving of gelt, or gold coins. In the past, children would give gelt to teachers and charities. Eventually, it also became the reward for winning dreidel games. During the holidays, chocolate candies wrapped in gold tinfoil are sold to mimic real gelt.