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2012-12-08

Happy Hanukkah!

It's here! Tonight marks the first night of Hanukkah 2012. It will continue for 8 nights and the following days, ending on the evening of Sunday, December 16, 2012.

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Tonight, the candle on the far right of the menorah is lit, with one additional candle being lit each night until the end of Hanukkah. While Christians will use electric candles or Christmas lights nowadays, it would be very rare to see electric or even gas Hanukkah lights, as Hanukkah itself represents the miracle of the temple oil, that should have only lasted one night, burning for 8 nights. The candles are lit at Sundown, and usually remain lit until the stars are visible in the sky, about 30 minutes. The family gathers for the lighting each night, and special blessings are read. No work is done in the vicinity of the candles during this burning time, especially not housework, it is time spent telling stories or reading the Torah.

The Torah is also read during the 8 days of Hanukkah and it is customary to increase charitable donations and works during this time. Children receive  Hanukkah gelt (money), adding to the overall festivity and excitement :-)

You have no doubt heard of latkes - potato pancakes - which are a popular Hanukkah food, as are any foods cooked in oil (to reference the Hanukkah miracle) - bring on the doughnuts! Cheesy food also figures prominently to honour the story of Judith, who used a simple meal of cheese and wine to lure an enemy general to his death (meaning that when he fell over drunk, she stabbed him with his own sword!), allowing for a successful surprise counter attack by the Hebrew inhabitants of the town he was holding under siege.

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If you want to learn more about Hanukkah rituals and traditions, click here. For last year's St. John's Mom Hanukkah post, click here.

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