This year, Hanukkah is just a few days after Thanksgiving starting on Sunday, November 28 and runs through Monday, December
Hanukkah, sometimes spelled Chanukah, is a Jewish holiday that lasts eight nights. As with all Jewish holidays, the observance begins at sundown the day before.
If you're looking to know more about the history and tradition behind Hanukkah and the Jewish festival of lights, here is what you need to know.
What is Hanukkah?
According to the JCC of Indianapolis, the most important thing to remember is that Hanukkah is not Jewish Christmas. Instead, it's considered one of the minor holidays to those who are of the Jewish faith.
Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev.
Chanukah is the Festival of Lights that commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after a revolt by a band of Jewish fighters, called the Maccabees, against the Syrian-Greek empire that had attempted to destroy the Jewish faith.
"As part of the rededication, the victorious Jews needed to light the Temple's menorah (seven-branch candelabrum), but they only had enough oil to last one day, and it would take eight days to prepare more. Miraculously, the one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days, which is why Chanukah lasts for eight days," according to the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis' website.
When does it occur?
Hanukkah begins between Thanksgiving and Christmas every year.
Jewish holidays occur according to the Jewish calendar — which is also considered lunar and has a different number of days — and not the solar calendar. Half of the time, according to the JCC of Indianapolis, it overlaps with Christmas, which is of Christian faith. In 2021, it has landed well before Christmas time.
How is it celebrated?
"It’s about lighting candles and playing games for chocolate coins and eating potato pancakes. Chanukah gift-giving rarely extends much beyond one’s own children," the JCC of Indy states on its website.
Celebrating Hanukkah consists of eating lots of oil. More specifically, food fried in oil. Jews traditionally eat latkes, or potato pancakes, and sufganiyot, also known as jelly-filled donuts.
A chanukiah, also known as a nine-branch menorah, is lit each night of Hanukkah, starting with one candle on the first night and adding a candle each day thereafter. It is traditionally placed in a window facing a street to help share light and celebration into the world.
Jewish communities and organizations as a whole may have larger menorah displays for public gatherings as well.
Menorah lightings and dinner celebrations around Indianapolis for Hanukkah 2021:
- Saturday, November 27: Hanukkah Handmade Family Workshop at Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center at 10:30 a.m.
- Sunday, November 28: Candle lighting at Indiana Jewish Discovery Center and Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis at 5 p.m.
- Sunday, November 28: Chanukah Dinner Celebration at Chabad Center for Jewish Life at 5:30 p.m.
- Monday, November 29: Candle lighting at Jewish Community Center and Hooverwood Living at 5 p.m.
- Tuesday, November 30: Candle lighting at Hasten Hebrew Academy of Indianapolis at 5 p.m.
- Wednesday, December 1: Candle lighting at Etz Chaim Sephardic Congregation at 5 p.m.
- Wednesday, December 1: A virtual evening of art, performance and learning hosted by the JFest at 6 p.m.
- Thursday, December 2: Candle lighting at Chabad Lubavitch of Indiana and Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis at 5 p.m.
- Thursday, December 2: Young Jewish Professionals of Indianapolis' Menorah Lighting in downtown Indianapolis and After Party
- Friday, December 3: Candle lighting at Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation and Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council at 4:30 p.m.
- Saturday, December 4: Candle lighting at Congregation Shaarey Tefilla and Congregation Beth Shalom at 7 p.m.
- Sunday, December 5: B’nai Torah Chanukah Party from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- Sunday, December 5: Candle lighting at Congregation Beth-El Zedeck at 5 p.m.
- Sunday, December 5: Latkes and Lights at Newfields
- Monday, December 6: A virtual Chanukah concert at 5:30 p.m.