Hanukkah: Remembering the Past

The annual festival of the Jewish people Hanukkah, also known as the festival of lights, is one of the most awaited and popular events in the Jewish culture. The festival is celebrated for eight straight days in December or late November as per the Gregorian calendar which begins on 25th of the month of Kislev, third month of the Jewish calendar.

This blessed and joyful family festival is a great opportunity for family and friends to come together, sing Hanukkah songs, play the game of driedel and light the menorah, remembering those who have shown their bravery and fought valiantly, and those who sacrificed their lives so that the people of Israel could enjoy the freedom that they have and experience today.

Celebrating Hanukkah is never complete without food. Food plays a significant role in Hanukkah celebrations. It is regarded as a combination of ancient customs and cultural influence. All the dishes prepared on that day have to be deep fried or baked, preferably cooked in an olive oil. For the Jewish people, it is a reminder of the miracle of the oil which should have lasted for a day, but remained its fiery glow for eight days in the temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabees and the Jews claimed their victory over the Syrian armies in 165 B.C.E.

Dairy items are also a big part of Jewish delicacies. It is often serve in banquets to remind them of the story of the charming and beautiful Judith, who risks her life and saved her village town of Bethulia, in the land of Judea when it was under siege by the Syrians and their mighty Syrian-Greek general Holofernes. Judith seduced and killed the Assyrian commander, by giving the general salty cheese to make him thirsty, and offering him plenty of wine to quenched his thirst. When he was sprawled on the ground, dead drunk, Judith draws Holofernes heavy sword, take aim at his neck and beheaded him. The next morning, the soldiers panicked and flee when they found their mighty commander in his tent lifeless and his head severed from his body. Thus, Judith and her people gained back their freedom from the conquering Assyria

Jews ensure that apart from all the fun that comes with the celebration during the holiday, the customs and traditions are also strictly followed. They make extra efforts and take responsibility to follow the laws and traditions and keep the candles of menorah lit and chant all the special blessings before lighting each candle until the last day of the festival.

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