Hannukah Q & A

Most Leigh students know that Hanukkah is the Jews’ winter holiday where families light the menorah, exchange gifts, and play dreidel. But beyond just that basic information, people had some questions, which we answered. Read on to learn about the eight night festival of lights that happens every December.


What does the holiday celebrate?

Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of when the temple was destroyed by the Greek-Syrians, and the eternal flame only had enough oil left to burn for one day. Miraculously, the candelabra burned for eight days. It also celebrates the success of the Maccabees against the Greek-Syrians.


When is it this year? What is the most fun part of it?

This year, it begins in the evening of Dec. 12 and ends Dec. 20. The most fun part is the food, family, and presents.


How is Hanukkah usually celebrated?

Each night you light one candle and the shamash for each night that’s happened so far (so on the first day you light one, the second day you light two, for a total of eight). This is because the oil burned for eight nights in the ruins. You are also supposed to eat oily foods, like latkes or sufganiyot because of the story of Hanukkah, with the oil in the lamp. Each night, children open another present, from parents, extended family, and friends.


Why is it such a non-pc thing to not mention it?

I personally have no problem with people saying Merry Christmas, but I think a lot of people feel that it’s better to say Happy Holidays since there are other holidays that people celebrate besides Christmas.


Is a dreidel really made of clay? Or is that like a historical thing?

I haven’t seen any made of clay personally, the only time you really hear that is in the song. Most of the time they’re made of wood.


Why do you give gifts?

There is no significance to giving gifts on Hanukkah. Instead, parents would give their children gelt (money). American families only exchange gifts because of the Christmas tradition.


Why does the date change every year?

Also, the date of Hanukkah changes every year because it is based on the Jewish calendar, which is lunar. The American calendar is Gregorian, and it goes by the sun.