As happens when I nap too long during the day, I am awake at dark o’thirty. And as it is currently the first night of Hanukkah in 2018 as I wrote this, I’m going to tell you what I know about Hanukkah and its celebration.

Now, I do chuckle over the spelling thing, but all of the above spellings are accurate. Which is odd, no? It comes from Hebrew being a not-English language, to be quite blunt. And the current most popular spelling, as of this writing, is ” Dictionary.com puts this variance down to the need for transliteration versus pronunciation. Though, Newsweek published an article on Sunday, 2 December 2018, that says:

“Merrimack-Webster identifies Hanukkah as the primary spelling of the holiday and Chanukah as a secondary way of writing the holiday. Hanukkah is the most widely used spelling choice, although TIME pointed out that Chanukah is a favorite of traditionalists and five years ago, it was the favorite spelling choice. Other spellings identified by the Oxford Dictionaries were:

  • Hannukah, Hanukah, Chanukkah, Channukah, Hanuka, Chanuka, Chanuka, (and) Hanukka”.
  • So, because there’s some monthly shortening that can happen to the month of Kislev, Hanukkah can end either on the 2nd or 3rd of the next month, Tevet . Since, in 2018, Kislev has the normal 30 days, Hanukkah will go from Sunset on 25th Kislev to sunset on 2nd Tevet. This corresponds to sunset on 2nd December to 10th December, 2018.

    But what is Hanukkah? It is also called the Festival of Lights. This is, of course, not to be confused with the Hindu celebration of Diwali, which is called the same.

    It is considered a “lesser” Jewish holiday. However, due to its traditions and popular culture, many non-Jewish people know of its existence.

    Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Torah because the events that occurred to prompt the holiday’s creation were after the “end” of the Torah. The festival is mentioned, however, in the Talmud.

    Sometime in the second century BCE, the Holy Temple was ransacked by yet another king trying to force Jewish people do convert against their will. A force led by Judah the Maccabee won the day and was able to reclaim and rededicate the temple. Holy oils had mostly been destroyed or contaminated. However, what was left was enough to burn for a single day. It lasted eight. Wise men of the time decided to create a festival commemorating this miracle and the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

    The Wikipedia entry has some interesting information in it as well!

    Where does playing dreidel come in? Religious subterfuge of course! When kids of the Maccabee era were studying the Torah despite the ban on it, they would keep tops and play with those, hiding the forbidden materials, when needed.

    The four sided tops are marked with the Hebrew letters: nun, gimmel, hay, and shin. These stand for “Nais Gadol Hayah Shahm — a great miracle happened there.

    The game is simple: spin the top and win or lose by what letter you land on. Usually chocolate coins, or in my house pretzels, are used as the pot/chips. You start with a small pot in the middle and go from there.

    Land on Nun: Nothing is lost or gained.

    Gimmel: The whole pot is won!

    Hay: Half the pot is won.

    Shin: Add one to the pot.

    Now, the downfall with using pretzels is that they definitely often get eaten as you go. Just a warning!

    Happy Hanukkah!

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